- West Berkeley, Berkeley, California
Coordinates: West Berkeley is generally the area of Berkeley, California which lies west of San Pablo Avenue, abutting San Francisco Bay. It includes the area which was once the unincorporated town of Ocean View, as well as the filled-in areas along the shoreline west of I-80 (the Eastshore Freeway) including, mainly, the Berkeley Marina. It lies at an elevation of 23 feet (7 m).
Ocean View began as the name given to a stagecoach stop established by former sea captain William J. Bowen along the Contra Costa Road (today's San Pablo Avenue) in the early 1850s. The name was applied thereafter to the settlement which began growing up between the stop and a wharf built at the foot of what is now Delaware Street. Ocean View was included in the incorporation of Berkeley in 1878 and thereafter was known as West Berkeley. Ocean View was also, briefly (1908-9), the name of what is now Albany, California, just north of Berkeley. Ocean View was primarily an industrial, working class community. The name derived from the fact that the Pacific Ocean is visible through the Golden Gate across San Francisco Bay from the site.
The main east-west thoroughfare in Ocean View was Delaware Street. In later years, it was eclipsed by University Avenue. The main north-south thoroughfare was San Pablo Road (initially called the Contra Costa Road), today's San Pablo Avenue. One of the earliest buildings in Berkeley was an inn at the stagecoach stop called "Bowen's Inn", located at what is now the northwest corner of San Pablo Avenue and Delaware Street. The wharf at the foot of Delaware Street began as "Jacobs Landing", named for its builder and proprietor, James H. Jacobs. The wharf was improved and enlarged with the help of Zimri Heywood, the proprietor of a lumberyard at the wharf, which was then renamed "Jacobs and Heywood Wharf". Lumber, soap, hay and many other goods were transhipped from here. Ferry service was established between the wharf and San Francisco in 1874. In 1876, the Central Pacific Railroad constructed its new main line, part of the transcontinental overland route, along the shoreline. A passenger and freight depot was built at Delaware Street. This was replaced in 1911 by a new depot at 3rd Street and University Avenue which still exists, although it is no longer in use as a depot. However, Amtrak's Berkeley Station is now located adjacent to this former depot and provides daily train service.
The earliest school in what is now Berkeley was the Ocean View School located on the southeast corner of Virginia Street and San Pablo Avenue, established in 1856. The creek that flowed adjacent to the school was dubbed "Schoolhouse Creek". The school was subsequently renamed The San Pablo Avenue School, and again later as the Franklin Elementary School. Nothing of the original Ocean View School building remains. In June 2002, Franklin was closed and a year later, transformed into the new site of the Berkeley Adult School which opened on September 7, 2004.
The first mayor (technically, the President of the Board of Trustees) of the newly incorporated Town of Berkeley was elected from Ocean View, Abel Whitton of the Workingman's Party. He served from 1878 to 1881.
Just east of I-80 between Ashby and University Avenues is Aquatic Park created in the 1930s by the WPA. Its centerpiece is an artificial mile-long lagoon.
West Berkeley was one of the Bay Area's principal industrial zones up until about the 1960s after which it began to decline. Several well-known companies such as Colgate-Palmolive, Heinz, Canada Dry and Cutter Labs had plants in West Berkeley. Some industry remains. Pacific Steel Casting (opened 1934) was the third-largest steel foundry in the United States as of 2007. The film company and former music production company Fantasy Studios is located here as well.
The drug manufacturer Bayer, who bought Cutter Labs, has a large manufacturing facility in West Berkeley and is the city's largest private-sector employer. The future of the Bayer Berkeley campus is in doubt, though, as the company is considering moving the facility to reduce costs. The neighboring cities of Oakland and Emeryville, along with Berkeley, are considering asking for tax incentives to induce Bayer to stay in the city.
Beginning in the late 1970s, the development of the retail commercial area along 4th Street led to a gradual gentrification of the surrounding residential area. Businesses located there include Anthropologie, Crate and Barrel Outlet, Restoration Hardware, Builder's Booksource (an architectural bookstore), Aveda, Bare Escentuals and Peet's Coffee and Tea.
Local public transportation in the West Berkeley area are provided by the West Berkeley Shuttle.
Addition: The first inhabitants of Ocean View were indigenous people who settled along Strawberry Creek in around 3700 B.C.and began building possibly the first and one of the largest of the 425 shellmounds around San Francisco Bay. Archaeologists estimate that native people lived on or near the shellmound for 45 centuries, until the Medieval Dry Period. They abandoned the West Berkeley Shellmound in around 800 A.D. However where the people went is still a mystery. They may have associated with other mound dwellers or left the area entirely. The extant Ohlone tribe may be their descendants.
The name Ocean View was revived during the 1970s when neighbors fought against the City's West Berkeley Redevelopment Project. Those struggling to save what remained of the old Victorian neighborhood coalesced to form the Ocean View Committee. The OVC, in association with Berkeley preservationists, assemblymen and congressmen, succeeded in saving Ocean View which later went on to experience a full revival of apartment building and commerce. Throughout the 1970s-2000s, tours have been led that feature the restored buildings.
- West Berkeley Landmarks, articles about the history of West Berkeley and its notable architecture (Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association)
- WestBerkeley.com, West Berkeley on the Web, a community website (from the West Berkeley Neighborhood Development Corporation)
Berkeley, California Neighborhoods Education Trunk roads and highways Public transportation People
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