Just a few miles north of Oakland, and a few miles east of San Francisco, lies Berkeley, a city far enough from both to have its own history and community atmosphere. You might know that it's home to a world-famous college, UC Berkeley, or that hippies once made up a large portion of the population, but there's a lot more to this hilly town. Read on to learn more about Berkeley and what makes it so unique.
Site of the Free Speech Movement Protests and Bloody Thursday
Events in Berkeley in the 1960s set off what we now call the Free Speech Movement, but the 1969 clash between President Ronald Reagan and Berkeley activists is seen as the pinnacle of the Vietnam War. Leading up to the clash, President Reagan called Berkeley a breeding ground for "sexual deviants, communist sympathizers, and protesters," so he ordered California Highway Patrol and Berkeley Police officers to shut down People's Park, an abandoned lot that anti-war protesters had turned into volunteer grounds.
When people in Berkeley saw People's Park blocked off, a riot broke out, protesters chanting, "We want the park! "The riot was violent when more than 800 police and National Guard officers began shooting tear gas canisters in the backs of the protesters, beating people with night sticks, and shooting (both pellets and bullets) at the crowd. All in all, 58 people were treated for injuries, 30 were shot and 12 were admitted to hospitals. People's Park Riots have become known as Bloody Thursday.
The Naked Run
Few things are as entertaining as the UC Berkeley tradition that takes place every year during Dead Week, the week before the final exams, when students are given time off to study. Students cramming for tests in the Moffitt and Doe libraries get quite a show when a bunch of naked students stroll through the stacks, sing, shout, and stir up commotion for a good 20 minutes. The origins of the Naked Run can be traced back to the Lothlorien House, a UC Berkeley co-op that organizes a run every year and is meant to be an entertaining stress reliever for the coming finals.
Country’s Largest Chilean-American Cultural Center
Berkeley is home to a large Chilean-American community center, the La Peña Cultural Center. La Peña was opened in 1975 and is an internationally recognized center for performing arts. It offers community dance classes, cultural workshops and hosts over 200 events, ranging from public dialog to art exhibitions, spoken word poetry readings to dance performances. The cultural center has been an integral part of the Berkeley community for over 40 years , bringing together people of all backgrounds to celebrate social justice, intercultural understanding and the arts.
Oldest School in the University of California System
The city's crown jewel, UC Berkeley, was the first school in the University of California system. The system, which now has ten world-renowned institutions, all began temporarily in Oakland in 1868, finding its permanent home in Berkeley in 1873. It's no wonder that school is generally just "Cal" as it really was the first in the University of California system.
UC Berkeley is consistently ranked among the top three public universities in the country, often earning the number one spot. In addition, faculty and researchers have won more Nobel Prizes than any other UC, earning a total of 104 awards to date, and ranking third in the world for institutions with the most awards. Although not an Ivy League school, UC Berkeley continues to excel and earn top honors every year. In fact, as of 2016, UC researchers and faculty were responsible for creating over 900 start-ups, more than 1,700 inventions and controlling over 12,000 active patents.
Berkeley Food Scene Stacks Up Against the Best
It may be well known for its vegan-friendly fare, but it happens that Berkeley has a burgeoning restaurant scene for all kinds of food critics. Head down Shattuck and Vine Avenues, and you'll be treated to what locals love to call the "Gourmet Ghetto." Chez Panisse put Berkley on the map when it opened its doors in 1971, and this spot in the Gourmet Ghetto emphasizes the farm-to - table experience.
Just down the street, The Cheese Board Collective offers a wide range of cheese varieties for purchase at its storefront, and at the back of the shop, a pizzeria that serves only one type of pizza every day. Try French potato puffs – the taste of garlic and parsley is pleasing to the crowd – in Grégoire and, after a long night of drinking, do something like the locals and check out Top Dog.
These must-see places of interest are the hidden gems in Berkeley, California:
- Cafe Ohlone
- Games of Berkeley
- Morrison Library
- Fairy Post Office
- Founders Rock
- Fish House
- The Vine Street UFO
- East Bay Vivarium
- Indian Rock
All of these wonderful - but not so well known - attractions are located just a short distance from our location at 1261 Locust Street in Walnut Creek, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!