Photo by Joe Reifer

In most places I’ve walked, one of the elements of homes that I usually find least interesting is the garages, primarily because modern suburban garage designs seem to be limited to a few styles. One of the first things I learned about garages in Berkeley was that many of them are falling apart. Some are slightly dilapidated, while others look like they are very close to falling apart completely. This is not surprising with the number of older homes in Berkeley, and with the relatively expensive cost of renovating or re-building a garage.

Some garages are attached to homes, and many others are separate and located down a long driveway that runs along the side of the house. Most are “one-car” garages (the quotes because most modern cars don’t fit in the garages at all), though I have seen a couple of two-car garages here and there. I have not seen any of the three-car garages that can be found in some suburbs. Because most garages here do not to have automatic doors, and also because many cars are parked in driveways rather than in the tiny garages, you do see most people when they are coming and going. In my dreams, of course, most people would be leaving their house on foot or bicycle, but at least it is not as extreme as the neighborhoods where you never seen anyone because they enter their cars in the garage, open the automatic door, and drive off — all without stepping outside.

Last weekend I was down on the Peninsula, and spent some time walking around Palo Alto. I noticed a few instances where circular driveways had been installed in small front yards on quiet streets, which didn’t make sense to me at all. I had to chuckle a bit when I noticed one circular driveway where a car had pulled in and parked on each end of the driveway — defeating its purpose because one of the cars would have to back out anyway.

Every once in awhile, I spot a garage door in Berkeley with an interesting geometric pattern, like the one pictured above. I had walked by the garage door shown below on many occasions, but had not noticed the X’s. A couple of weeks ago, coming at it from across the street, it was easier to spot. It’s always nice to have a reminder to keep looking and looking again and again — and then you still probably haven’t seen everything.



  1. Joe Reifer said

    Wow — thanks for the big photo feature! Your shot with the white car and brown garage is brilliant.



  2. Georgia said

    The garage photos are among my favourites. By the way, your last two posts seem like book chapters. Any plans to publish?

  3. I love this posting about garages, and the photos! It is so interesting.

  4. Georgia — quite a few people have asked me about whether I am thinking about writing a book about the experiences. I hadn’t really thought about this until people started asking, thought I do actually have quite a few ideas for fun walking tours in Berkeley. I might think about the book possibilities once I finish up with the project. I’m happy that the blog has reached as many interested people as it has up to this point, but something in print would definitely reach a larger audience.

  5. Georgia said

    I am intrigued by the walking tours idea. Autumn walks are really nice….

    I borrowed a 1982 copy of “31 Walking Tours of Berkeley, Cal” (BAHA) with the idea to walk while observing and photographing gardens. I searched the BPL catalogue for a walking tour of Berkeley (or East Bay) gardens/front yards. The search did not yield any results. Please let me know if you or any of your readers know of or find a resource for tours of Berkeley’s residential gardens/yards. (You can email

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