Downtown Berkeley is one of the liveliest neighborhoods in the East Bay. Its central location in the city makes it convenient to all the other neighborhoods.
Berkeley is probably best remembered for the Free Speech Movement and protests against the Vietnam War, for counterculture and People’s Park. Those last two are still there, by the way.
But modern Berkeley has grown up without losing its long-haired youthful energy. At the same time, the architectural details of its homes and commercial buildings display vestiges of the style and decoration that give the city its old-world character.
Its blend of single-family homes and mixed use housing developments give the area a feel of both permanence and transience. You’ll find city government and public services all in one tight quadrant: City Hall, the main library, the police department, the courthouse, and most administrative agencies.
In short, downtown offers the best of both historic charm and modern convenience in one neat package.
Downtown Berkeley Recreation
Downtown offers an amazingly large variety of entertainment options, all within a few blocks of each other.
The Berkeley Repertory Theatre has been holding down the cultural front since 1968, and has long been regarded as one of the leading regional theatre companies in the country. Right across the street, the nonprofit Freight and Salvage has been presenting live folk and world music for just as long.
Around the corner, Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas and the UA Berkeley 7 offer more than a dozen first-run screens between them. And across the street from there, you’ll find indie and mainstream films at Landmark’s California Theatre in a historic old space built in 1913.
Cornerstone, at the corner of Shattuck and Durant, is an exciting new hot spot with a beer hall and restaurant on the Shattuck side and a high-tech music venue on Durant. The UC Theatre on University Avenue, a former film revival house, now offers live music in an elegant concert hall setting.
The Zellerbach Theater on the nearby UC Berkeley campus presents world-class music, dance, and theater nearly year-round with Cal Performances. The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive show an eclectic mix of independent and foreign films and exhibits.
And if college football is your thing, the Cal Bears play just up the hill in California Memorial Stadium — which also hosts major concerts.
Downtown Berkeley Shopping
Shattuck Avenue cuts north-south right through downtown, and University Avenue runs across the top. Both are major commercial streets with bars and restaurants, shops, movie theaters, coffee houses, and much more. Here and nearby on Telegraph in Southside, you can find boutiques with clothing and home decor items from India and other parts of southern Asia.
Downtown Berkeley Transportation
The Downtown Berkeley BART station drops you smack in the heart of downtown at the corner of Center and Shattuck, and you can walk to everything from there. You’ll also find a wide assortment of buses, ride shares, rental bikes and more.
In fact, Berkeley is one of the most cyclist-friendly places around. There’s secure bike parking at the BART stations to make your commute or other connections easier.
Downtown Berkeley Schools
Local kids go to Washington Elementary and then across the street to Berkeley High School. The city’s population changes noticeably when the college students at Cal move in and out for the school year.
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(all data current as of 2/14/2019)
Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.