8.3 out of 10


37.8670515000566 -122.25816728371
Great for
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Public Transport
  • Medical Facilities
  • Childcare
  • Internet Access
Not great for
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Parking
  • Safe & Sound
  • Clean & Green
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • LGBT+
  • Hipsters


5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5

"The Intellectual Heart of the Bay"

Southside is perhaps the most famous area of Berkeley, containing the section of Telegraph that leads right up to the campus at Sather Gate and having that famous sixties Mecca, People’s Park, within its geographical range.

This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Berkeley in terms of history. It began way back in the 1860’s and originally was designed as an alphabetical grid—a fact that you can still roughly notice in the names of the streets as they move south away from campus and west away from Piedmont (Berkeley’s Frat Row). Some of the names, however, have changed (like Telegraph that used to be Choate) and blocks have also been further subdivided. Nevertheless, the neighborhood still retains its grid format.

Southside is still largely associated with the University and has one of the youngest demographics of any city in Berkeley or in the East Bay, with the average Southside resident being in his or her early 20’s. In fact, the demographics of Southside almost exactly mirror the demographics of the University.

These students largely live to the west of Telegraph Avenue in one of the many Victorians and three story buildings that characterize the leafy neighborhood in that area. Each story, and sometimes each room of the homes and apartments that make up this area is, as a rule, parceled out to student renters, who regularly pay upwards of $800.00 for individual rooms and prices starting at $1,500.00 for one bedroom apartments.

Parking in this area is difficult and residents must purchase parking permits to park here long term during the day. Even with permits parking spaces are difficult to find day or night and especially on the weekends when droves of young people converge on Berkeley to hang out or take part in a modern day version of Berkeley’s counterculture past.

Telegraph Avenue is without a doubt the focus of this convergence. On any day of the week you will find droves of young people, many of them Cal students, but many of them the regular set of street urchins who come to Telegraph to pan handle, meet friends and gawk at one another. Getting from one end of Telegraph to the other without being asked for change is a virtual impossibility.

Towards the southern end of the neighborhood sits what remains of People’s Park, the focus of much of the Berkeley’s protests of the late 1960’s when the on campus Free Speech Movement began moving off campus and tackling bigger issues, such as the Vietnam War. Today the park is largely a drug haven where the scent of marijuana is strong and dreadlocked young people regularly lie about playing guitars or just taking in the sun.

Along Telegraph you can find several bookstores—such as Shakespeare and Company, Moe’s and the iconic Cody’s books where famous political writers often come to give speeches and promote their latest works. Telegraph also offers visitors the opportunity to get a tattoo or piercing at Zebra’s or buy CD’s or Vinyl Record’s at Amoeba’s. Leather clothing stores and other Goth boutiques can also be found along Telegraph.

There are also several eateries along Telegraph that are the favorites of students and visitors alike. You can choose from food as prosaic as burgers or bagels, to more exotic entries like sushi, and until recently even Ethiopian food (although the restaurant has fallen victim of the recession).

Along Bancroft on campus to the west of Telegraph, you find Zellerbach Hall, one of the premier locations for performances and for speakers like Noam Chomsky (who regularly packs the auditorium during his visits). Most of the intellectual bang on Southside however comes from east of telegraph. It is here that you will find the Kroeber Anthropology Museum and the Berkeley Museum of Modern Art and the Pacific Film Archive. The last of these is perhaps the most impressive. The PFA is a theater run truly by intellectuals. Rather than playing popular alternative films, the PFA plays obscure movies and restored prints of the kind the vast majority of us have never heard of. So you can see Hungarian films from the Soviet era or lost silent classics here. It is always a discovery and the typical crowd is made up of intellectuals and Cal students so that you can overhear the latest gossip about academe even as you enjoy the visual treat.

This area also has a distinctly International flavor, largely because of the location of I-House at the eastern side of Bancroft. I-House is where the exchange students are housed during their stay. You will also find one of the grand old Berkeley hotels here and three large dormitories. Several churches and temples also dot this area, as well as YWCA. All of which is to say that this is a highly eclectic and energetic section of the Berkeley and one in which you are just as likely to hear someone talking about Miley Cyrus in Korean as discussing Schopenhauer in Portuguese.

Finally, one cannot discuss Southside without mentioning the coffeehouse culture that dominates the neighborhood (and Berkeley in general). Southside is home to several coffee houses, not the least of which are La Strada up by the museums, Meditterano by People’s Park and my personal favorite, Milano, at the edge of campus and right by Sather Gate—a favorite for students on the way to and from classes.
  • Eclectic People
  • Great Restaurants
  • Amazing Museums
  • Crowded
  • Druggies, Bums amd Panhandlers
  • Noisy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • LGBT+
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish

Travelling to Southside?

Find Hotels

Unranked Streets in Southside

"The Intellectual Heart of Berkeley"
37.8686897357684 -122.259451419687

Ellsworth St

"For Cal Undergrads"
37.8663428917308 -122.263364853323

Best Neighborhoods to Live In

Best Cities to Live In

Tell everyone what you love about your neighborhood!

Leave a Review

Have a question?

How are schools? Is the area safe? What about public transit options?" Why not ask our community of locals!

Ask Now

Selling or Renting Your Home?

Maximize the selling price of your home by sharing what you love about your suburb to increase its appeal...

Leave a Review

Corporate Relocation Manager?

Enable your employees to share local knowledge in a private, trusted environment with those relocating... while building community.

Learn More