Windows

Similar to fences and gates, the variations in windows of houses are interesting to observe while walking. Due to the large number of older bungalows in Berkeley, there are many more interesting windows than other areas with newer houses that usually have windows with vinyl or aluminum frames. Despite the drafts and noise they let in, many houses still have the original (usually double-hung) windows with their interesting patterns, colored or stained glass, leaded glass, and other variations. And no wonder — newer replicas of the old windows are expensive and just don’t really look like the originals.

Windows can also be an indicator of level of crime in certain neighborhoods, specifically by the presence of security bars. With neighboring Oakland and Richmond unfortunately always in the news due to the high rate of violent crime in those cities, Berkeley may seem like a relatively safe place to live. And while it is true that bullets are not flying at every street corner, there is still plenty of crime here in Berkeley. Where the houses are more expensive, people tend to spend more money on expensive security systems and gates. In other areas, security grills or bars tend to be more common (and unfortunately pose a safety hazard in case of fire). People like to theorize about the vague idea of a “borderline” or a “transitional” or “up-and-coming” or “soon to be gentrified” neighborhood. Whether a neighborhood changes and how quickly it does so is difficult to determine, but it is possible to observe certain qualities that show where an area has changed at some point. One of the indicators I have seen most often on my walks is the mix in a neighborhood of homes with and without window bars; where some people have decided to take them off and others are still hesitant to remove them permanently.

The Ohlone Greenway cuts through a good part of Berkeley, and so I naturally end up on portions of it during many of my walks. I noticed work being done on the house pictured here, which is located right off the path, and was naturally curious about the end product. The remodel intrigues me because, as you will notice, the only windows are all small and high up on the house. Originally the house had larger windows, which were filled in. The windows themselves are not atypical; interesting salvaged windows are very popular and can be found at places like Ohmega Salvage and Urban Ore. But in most cases, I have seen them used decoratively, with other larger windows being the primary source of light for the house. I wondered if the homeowner actually wanted a darker interior or whether perhaps this was a creative solution to prevent break-ins without window bars.

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1 Comment »

  1. Spike said

    Due to the large number of older bungalows in Berkeley, there are many more interesting windows than other areas with newer houses that usually have windows with vinyl or aluminum frames.

    I hear ya. Same goes here.

    The windows on that remodel are a puzzle.

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