Yore Ave. Tour 

Telegraphed stories in Berkeley.

New in Berkeley this fall? Trudged up and down Telegraph without knowing of its place in history? Tried to eavesdrop on the hoary-bearded ancients at Caffe Med? Then you'll want to know about Berkeley historian Steven Finacom's free, guided walk of historic Telegraph Avenue and its surrounding neighborhoods, a fascinating lesson in local history and architecture.

Finacom says he could spend one hour each on the sixteen square blocks north of Dwight he'll be covering, but he has culled the most interesting highlights for the two-hour version. One especially storied block is at Telegraph and Dwight, where painter Chiura Obata sold art supplies and his wife taught flower arrangement, the Telegraph Repertory Cinema introduced foreign movies to thousands of students on the sweltering second floor, and James Rector was shot to death on the roof during the People's Park uprising.

In contrast to its student/street people population now, the 19th-century south-of-campus was one of the first settled family neighborhoods, with residences, churches, private clubs, and even a public school that has since been replaced by the Rochdale complex (the cooperative movement being a Berkeley historical legacy from the 1930s). The Haste Street mural building was once a Lucky's supermarket that suffered "shop-ins" in the early 1960s, in which disgruntled "shoppers" went to the cash registers with full carts demanding to know why no African Americans were employed there, and left the carts unchecked at the exit.

The neighborhood also contains numerous architectural masterpieces by Julia Morgan, Bernard Maybeck, and others. Finacom can fill you in on the origins of the Berkeley Free Clinic, the role of the First Congregational Church in the Japanese-American internment, the beginnings of the sidewalk merchants, and how the creation of Sproul Plaza ironically created a stage for the Free Speech Movement.

Gather at 10 a.m. this Saturday at Sather Gate, on the UC campus, one block north of Telegraph and Bancroft. The tour lasts approximately two hours, and is wheelchair-accessible. 510-708-0658.

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