Berkeley: It’s Hip But It’s Not Happening

I have a friend, an artist, who lives in a converted machine shop on Fourth Street in West Berkeley. The space she and her family share is inspiring. It makes you want to break out of your little box and start again. Her interiors are outsize and gloriously stylish. I loved it so much I wrote an article about it for a British newspaper.

This part of Berkeley a mix of the rough-edged and the hip and happening. There are light-industrial factories and craft warehouses, dilapidated bungalows, loft apartments, Painted Lady Victorians that have seen better days and, never far away, the Bay and the regular moaning of the freight trains that lumber along its shore.

Nearby is the achingly fashionable Fourth Street shopping district — a relatively new and appealing collection of interesting stores. Cody’s bookstore is there which always makes a trip worthwhile. There’s also Lunettes du Monde where my sister-in-law stockpiles reading spectacles every time she visits, Miki’s Paper for beautiful Japanese handmade papers and several great restaurants, including Bette’s Diner, a Berkeley institution.


This $599,000 live-work, 2-bedroom condo on three levels is unapologetically contemporary and, I would have thought, would suit a creative type who relishes the idea of living a little on the edge. But nobody is biting: it’s been on the market for a long time and has seen a $51,000 price reduction. It’s worth looking at but also worth finding out why it’s lingering.