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History Walks

Fall 2017 Walking Tours

Saturday, October 7: Ohlone Greenway Walk. Led by Bob Johnson
While exploring a segment of the Ohlone Greenway we will learn a little about the history of the Santa Fe Railway, BART and establishment of the Greenway as well as the rich history of Spanish land grants, farming, founding of community gardens, creek restoration, murals and more. Easy walking over flat terrain. Option to have lunch and chat at the Westbrae Biergarten afterward.

Saturday, October 14: Colusa Circle and 500 Block of Neilson Street. Led by Fred Etzel
Located in Kensington, an unincorporated area of Contra Costa County, Colusa Circle is formed by the intersection of Colusa Avenue, Oak View Avenue and Berkeley Park Boulevard. The Colusa Circle commercial area dates from the late 1920s. In 1926-27, two brothers who were speculative builders, Frank and Ramon Blanco, built 22 houses around the corner from Colusa Circle on the 500 block of Neilson Street in Berkeley. The Blanco brothers probably used Walter Wilbur Dixon’s Book of Plans. This walking tour illustrates the symbiotic relationship between the Colusa Circle commercial area and the residential 500 block of Neilson Street.

Saturday, October 28: Kensington Village. Led by Ann Harlow
Despite being across the county line, Kensington was developed in the early 20th century as an extension of the Berkeley hills. Among its subdivision names were Berkeley Park, Berkeley Highlands, and Berkeley Woods. Learn about an early Kensington landowner, “Potato King” George Shima; William R. Yelland, architect of several Kensington homes and a long-lost storybook style village center complex; pharmacist/local historian Louis Stein, Robert Oppenheimer and other notable residents, and more. Some steep sections and stairs; not wheelchair accessible.

Saturday, November 4: Berkeley Rep’s Harrison Street Campus. Led by Susan Medak
We will tour the building (originally North Face’s headquarters) where the Berkeley Repertory Theatre rehearses and constructs all their productions. The tour will visit scenic, paint, prop and costume shops as well as costume and prop storage and the rehearsal halls.

Saturday, November 11: The Story of The Graduate Movie. Led by Steven Finacom
In 1967 Berkeley became a popular movie setting with the release of the hit The Graduate that came to define the zeitgeist of a generation. Even though it’s fifty years later, most of the local sites and backdrops used for the film still exist in the south of campus area. We’ll visit them, and other “Sixties” sites on or near Telegraph Avenue, and consider whether any can survive another fifty years. Steven Finacom, our guide, is a past president of BHS and is also authoring a City of Berkeley Landmark application for the Victorian house that served as Dustin Hoffman’s boarding house in the film. Largely level walk, mainly on sidewalks.

A printable flyer is HERE.

A printable registration form is HERE.

Tours start at 10 am and end by approximately 12 noon. Sometimes they are slightly longer, so some extra time should be allowed in case the walk meets an informative passerby or dwells at an interesting site. Tours are limited to 30 paying participants unless noted otherwise. Pre-paid reservations are required and tickets are not refundable. Tours are conducted in rain, shine or Berkeley fog and are wheelchair accessible unless otherwise noted.

Keep a record of your order. E-mail addresses and telephone numbers are very important for last-minute changes and confirmations. You will be sent an e-mail or we will mail confirmations with starting points.

If you have suggestions for future walking tours, please contact the tour organizers at or leave a message on the BHS phone answering machine.

For last-minute reservations, call 848-0181 between 1 and 4 pm on the Thursday or Friday before the tour to determine meeting place and sign up if there is an opening.

By signing up for any of these walks, all participants agree to the following: “To the fullest extent allowed by law, I agree to waive, discharge claims, and release from liability the Berkeley Historical Society (BHS) and its officers, directors, agents, and tour leaders from any and all liability on account of, or in any way resulting from injuries and damages, whether caused by my own negligence or the negligence of the BHS or its officers, directors, agents, or tour leaders, in any way connected with a BHS activity. I understand and intend that this assumption of risk and release is binding upon my heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, and includes any minors accompanying me on the activity.”

The BHS, a volunteer organization, appreciates your support.

BHS offers walking tours in the spring and fall. For year-round walks featuring local history, you might wish to check these sites:


Information about past walks is in the Web Archive.


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1931 Center Street - Berkeley, CA 94704
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