Archive for November, 2007

Walk Highlights, Part 1: Commercial Areas

With only a couple of walks left to do, I am going to get started on reviewing some of the highlights of my walk and favorite spots for walking. You can view all of these entries at a later date by selecting the “Best Of” category (right column of the blog), which I just created. The spots I have left to walk are completely residential, so I’ll start by talking about some of my favorite commercial districts and areas of Berkeley. First, a caveat: my recommendations will not help you find the best shopping spots in Berkeley. For that, I recommend SFGate’s East Bay Neighborhoods, which has current listings of shops, dining, and other things to do in Berkeley and surrounding cities. Most of my favorites have much more to do with what is interesting to me as a walker — variety of interesting and unique businesses, signs, storefronts, architecture, etc. In no particular order:

Hopkins Street (near Monterey): This small neighborhood commercial district has the feeling of a small European shopping area, where you could go from shop to shop filling up you basket with the day’s ingredients for meals. During the day, and especially on Saturdays, the street is bustling — people drinking coffee and reading newspapers at Espresso Roma, filling their carts from the huge piles of produce at Monterey Market, lined up for slices at Gioia Pizza’s window, and shopping at and chatting with the owners of the small stores that sell fish, bread, cheese, and other ingredients. I’ve often seen neighbors running into each other and chatting on this street in the midst of their errands.

Shattuck Ave. near Berkeley/Oakland border: Most people are familiar with Shattuck Ave. in downtown and North Shattuck (the “gourmet ghetto”), but the south end of Shattuck is not as well-known. I think this zone is particularly interesting because it is the home of a number of small arts venues and organizations and other small businesses that I rarely see in the Bay Area anymore due to the high cost of commercial rental spaces. On this strip are places like La Pena Cultural Center (with arts events and a colorful mural) and the Long Haul Infoshop (activist group meeting space and zine library). For a walk of this area, start on Shattuck just south of the Berkeley Bowl, and walk south on the street, continuing over the border and ending at the Nomad Cafe at 65th.

San Pablo Avenue (entire length): Like many old highway roads, San Pablo is a varied and interesting street to walk despite the presence of lots of traffic. For the full effect of this street, I suggest walking the entire length from the Albany to the Oakland border. Starting at the north end, you pass outlet stores and sporting goods businesses, and then what some people call “gourmet ghetto west” at Cedar Street (where you might want to fuel up for your walk with some bread from Acme or a coffee from Cafe Fanny, but expect to wait in line for awhile). As you continue south through the University/San Pablo intersection, you’ll see Indian businesses, Mexican and Halal groceries, and and assortment of other stores, and then auto repair businesses interspersed with pockets of other retail businesses. Near the intersection of Dwight is an area that has attracted a number of vintage clothing retailers, antique stores, and other small retail outlets. With the opening of Caffe Trieste, this corner has become a lively neighborhood spot. Two blocks south of Ashby is the Berkeley border, where you can turn around and head back on the other side of the street or venture into West Berkeley for some more walking. Although this is a fun street to walk during the daytime, I don’t find it to be the safest street to walk at night in most sections where most of the businesses are closed and a fair amount of crime (drugs, prostitution) is present.

Some runners-up: University Avenue from I-80 all the way to the UC Berkeley campus (like San Pablo, it is a long, varied street), MLK, from about Rose to Virginia (this isn’t a commercial district, but interesting to think about how zoning works here, as a few businesses are interspersed amongst residences), Fourth Street, south of Hearst (venture beyond the main shopping area with newer shops to see old restaurants, the train depot, and a sake factory, among other attractions), College Ave./Elmwood (I prefer walking here when the shops are closed to look for the old signs and architecture amongst the newer ones; also walk north of the main drag to Derby to see the Julia Morgan Center).

Comments (1)

Status Report

A number of people have asked about the progress of my walk, and also how I plan to finish the walk. I haven’t been able to give more than vague answers, but at this point I think I can see that I have one long and three short walks left to do to complete the walk of every Berkeley street and path. These include several streets surrounding the Clark Kerr Campus of UC Berkeley, a small group of streets off Tunnel Road in Claremont, and a longer walk in the Berkeley hills near Grizzly Peak and Wildcat Canyon roads. I had not been sure what I would do for my final walk, but when I was reviewing my marked-up map I realized that I had not walked the Bay Trail south from the I-80 bike bridge to the Emeryville border. I’ve walked throughout the Marina (which might not be entirely accessible for awhile due to the recent oil spill), and on the Bay Trail north to the Albany border. At this point for my last walk, I am planning to do the remaining section out and back that then end at the bike bridge, which is one of my favorite features in Berkeley.

Timing wise, my goal is to be done by the end of the year, which shouldn’t be a problem. The most difficult walk will be the one in the hills. That section has taken much, much longer than I expected. Each time I go up there, I only end up doing part of my originally planned route due to confusing intersections, lack of street signs, and lots of hills. I really thought that I would be finished with that section on my last walk, but four hours later I still had a bunch of streets left and decided to head home. It is not unusual to see wildlife, especially deer, up in this section of the hills near Tilden Park. However, I did not see any the entire time I was walking early on a Sunday morning. Surprisingly when I got down from the hills and was near Sacramento and Hopkins I spotted deer near behind some trees at a school. I watched for awhile, and they eventually ran down the middle of the street a ways and into someone’s back yard. I couldn’t figure out how they got so far away from any wooded/natural area, nor how they would get back, but hopefully they ended up getting there. Oh, and I inadvertently captured in the second photo one of the modified “Stop Driving” signs that appear throughout Berkeley.

Comments (4)

Another Berkeley Walker!

I was very excited to receive a note from Andy Datlen, a Berkeley resident who has also been attempting to walk every street and path in Berkeley! He started when he retired from EBMUD in 2003, and is about 3/4 of the way done at this point. Like me, he has been using the Berkeley Path Wanderers map to record his progress. Here’s a nice excerpt from Andy’s note, describing his walking experiences in Berkeley:

I was walking in the area North of Marin today around Maryland Ave, and the views across the Bay to the City and Mount Tam were spectacular because it was so clear. In the hilly territory I do about 2-3 miles, whereas in the flat area I used to do about four. Some of those stairways are really steep. I walked the Maryland Steps today, down and back up, and it almost killed me. I do this to keep fit, because I have a serious heart condition, with a pacemaker. If I drop dead on one of the stairways one day I can’t think of a better way to go!

Andy would enjoy being in touch with others who are walking the Berkeley streets. Rather than subject him to lots of spam, please either leave a comment here or email me at jen.in510 [at], and I will forward your contact information to him.

Progress of Andy’s walk, recorded on the Path Wanderers map

In my series about Why People Walk, I covered exercise in general and spiritual and meditative walking, but Andy’s correspondence made me realize that it would be great to talk about walking and medical conditions. If you have walked to recover from an illness or injury or walk as ongoing therapy for a chronic condition, and would like to share your story, please contact me. Your identity, of course, can remain anonymous if you wish. And if you are in Berkeley and walking has been recommended to you by a medical professional, you are indeed lucky — as you can see from Andy’s comments. While the walking itself may be painful or difficult, you will have a chance to enjoy wonderful views, hidden stairways, interesting architecture, and unique sights.

Comments (2)