Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Berkeley Marina

The Berkeley Marina is the westernmost piece of land that falls within the Berkeley city limits. It is located at the foot of University Ave.
Entrance to the Marina.
The Berkeley Marina was initially built as Berkeley Yacht Harbor in the late 1930s with Works Progress Administration (WPA) money.  The 1935 Annual Report of the Berkeley Recreation Department describes the park as follows:

 'The central feature of this park will be a lagoon, large enough for out-board motor races, and with facilities for electric boats, rowboats and canoes. Around the lagoon land areas are being filled in to create a shoreline of bays and peninsulas. Lawns and areas with tables, fireplaces and ample picnic facilities, sheltered from prevailing breezes by shrub and tree plantings, will be laid out on the peninsulas... At the University Avenue end of the park will be constructed a recreational center to include an outdoor, salt water swimming pool, 240' x 75', with bath house, bleachers and sandy beach; tennis courts; a sea food inn; and a complete playground. A drive 20' wide will encircle the park, giving access to picnic and park areas, boat houses and view points.'

Historical marker at the pier.
Remains of the Berkeley Pier.

It's worth noting that the original shoreline was immediately east of what is now 3rd St.  The history of the marina dates back to 1909 when the city of Berkeley built a municipal pier that extended from the base of University Ave.  The pier was primarily used for ferry service to San Francisco and Sausalito and at its height stretched close to 3.5 miles into the Bay from the original shoreline.  Ferry service ended with the opening of the Bay Bridge and the pier suffered from neglect, with the outermost end being regularly damaged by storms.  Following the creation of the Berkeley Marina, and further restoration work in the 1970s, a portion of the original pier is still standing but is only in use for fishing and viewing.

Adventure Playground
There are some neat things out at the marina, and I was surprised by how much was there because, quite honestly, I just expected to see boats.  But hey, surprise is the default experience when you're in the vaguely cycling related local history blogging business.  It was a nice bike ride out there since I followed the Bay Trail from Emeryville and I got some great views of the Bay from the Berkeley Pier.  My favorite thing that I found at the Berkeley Marina was the Adventure Playground, an absolutely amazing "build your own playground" wonderland for kids where children are encouraged to use tools, paint, and recycled materials to build their own play structures.  It has an absolutely incredible raggedy, haphazard feel to it and I loved seeing how kids have built and painted the structures.  I could see how this facility could simultaneously be a child's dream playground and an overly protective parent's worst nightmare.
Adventure Playground

Getting There By Bike...
Sure the Marina is right at the foot of University Ave., but riding down University Ave. is no fun at all.  I recommend either taking Bancroft to the Berkeley Aquatic Park and then crossing the highway on the pedestrian bridge, or taking the Bay Trail from either Emeryville to the south or Berkeley and points beyond to the north.  If you're going to take the time to ride out there you might as well make it fun.  It's also right next to the Berkeley Aquatic Park if you have a little more time and energy. Just head right over the pedestrian overpass,

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