Walking Tours

Picture of people on a walking tour

We offer walking tours in the spring and fall.

Tours are held on Saturdays. They start at 10:00 am and end at approximately 12:00 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 (see below on how to choose the walks and pay). Tours are conducted in rain, shine or Berkeley fog and are wheelchair accessible unless otherwise noted.

The regulations and recommendations of the Berkeley Health Department at the time of each walk will apply. The walks are entirely outdoors and the leader will speak over a PA system. You may take further personal precautions such as wearing a mask if desired.

Fall 2022

Saturday, September 24: Berkeley’s Civic Center: Past, Present, Future
Led by Ann Harlow & Sergio Mazariegos

Picture of Maudelle Shirek Building (Old City Hall)
Maudelle Shirek Building, Stephen Rosen photo

Big plans are underway for revitalization of the Civic Center neighborhood. The City of Berkeley has entered a second phase of planning for the Maudelle Shirek Building (“Old City Hall”), the Veterans Memorial Building, and MLK Civic Center Park. This tour will include historical background and a chance to see areas of the buildings that have not been open to the public for years. Sergio and Ann are on the coordinating committee of Community for a Cultural Civic Center as well as active in BHSM. Includes one flight of stairs in each building, with no elevators. Limit 20.

Saturday, October 1: Tank House Tour: Discovering Berkeley’s Forgotten Wind-Powered Wooden Water Towers
Led by Aaron Goldstein

Saturday, October 1: Tank House Tour: Discovering Berkeley’s Forgotten Wind-Powered Wooden Water Towers. Led by Aaron Goldstein

Picture of a windmill-topped water tower

This walk reconstructs a once ubiquitous but now largely forgotten piece of the circa-1900 Berkeley landscape.  Back then, windmill-topped water towers stood on nearly every city block, pulling up water from wells into elevated water tanks and providing pressurized water for domestic use.  Of the hundreds of “tank houses” that once existed in Berkelely, only a handful remain.  We’ll visit six surviving examples in North and West Berkeley and learn about what people had to do to get water in the pre-EBMUD East Bay. 2.75 miles, flat terrain. 

Saturday, October 15: Elmwood: A Village Revealed Led by Burl Willes

Saturday, October 15: Elmwood: A Village Revealed. Led by Burl Willes

Picture of Ozzie Osborne at his famous lunch counter on College Avenue
Ozzie Osborne at his famous lunch counter on College Avenue

Small and compact, a “cozy village within a city,” we’ll explore what makes this village unique: its small stores, many women- and minority-owned businesses; hidden gardens and cottages; its political activism and strong sense of preservation (think Elmwood Theater, height restrictions, commercial rent control). A 90-minute stroll.  Limit 20.

Saturday, October 22: Cragmont Literary Lanes
Led by Robert Johnson

Picture of art nouveau entryway gates to a house on Sterling

Art nouveau entryway to a house on Sterling

This is a leisurely walk through the lesser-known Cragmont subdivision area where we will hear about former prominent residents (including some who are nationally famous), learn a little about the history of this hillside area and its street names, enjoy occasional views, and admire a few bits of architecture and gardens. The route is mostly on pavement (but with few sidewalks) and includes some up and down but no long, steep climbs.  About 1.7 miles.

Saturday, October 29: Restoring and Reconnecting to the Bay: A Walk (Through Time) Along the Berkeley Waterfront
Led by John Steere and Susan Schwartz

Join John Steere, president of Berkeley Partners for Parks, and Susan Schwartz, coordinator, of Friends of Five Creeks, in a stroll from Aquatic Park to the mouth of Schoolhouse Creek, all along the recently established McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.  We will pass through the just-dedicated Brickyard Cove and the remarkable “restoration area” that re-creates the habitats of West Berkeley before settlement, while learning about the ecology and history of the Berkeley shoreline and the fight to protect it from development and create a new kind of park.

If you have suggestions for future walking tours, please email us or leave a message at 510-848-0181.

For year-round walks featuring local history, you might wish to check these sites:

Photos by Tom Edwards