5.6 out of 10

West Berkeley (South)

37.8574445920586 -122.291805057659
Great for
  • Childcare
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Internet Access
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Eating Out
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Hipsters


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

"A Bit of Everything and a Park"

The southern part of West Berkeley is a mix between residential and commercial interests.

Much of the northern end of this neighborhood is a fairly typically residential much like any other in the Berkeley. A recent report noted that the Bay Area has the largest concentration of pre-WWII home of any city in America except for Boston. You can definitely see that in this as in many other neighborhoods in Berkeley. The homes here tend to of the older variety—not quite Victorian, but not yet the Ranch homes of the Fifties (very, very common in SoCal). You will even see some colonial style homes with their Gambrilled roofs in this area —though clearly they were not constructed during the colonial era since Berkeley is a post-Gold Rush phenomena.

Rents are relatively moderate here—with a few exceptions. Although some homes start a fairly high prices, many deals are to be found for the right situation.

Transportation is strong here as it is throughout Berkeley, where it is common for residents to not own cars. Aside from buses that serve the major thoroughfares at the edges of the neighborhood (University Avenue, San Pablo, and Ashby), there are also a couple of other important features of transportation just outside the neighborhood’s border--the Berkeley Amtrak station north of University, and North Berkeley BART station, north east from the neighborhood.

South of Dwight, office buildings dominate this neighborhood. They are mostly squat non-descript buildings housing smaller Berkeley firms that conduct the commerce of the city (much of it related to the University directly or indirectly). You mostly see workers from these companies in this area.

As you near Ashby, the area becomes more commercial with stores like lumber stores and a BMW dealer. You also have the western extension of the famous Berkeley Bowl, a hippy styled supermarket with fresh, organic foods and a long tradition of principled food production.

On the edge of the West Berkeley South is Aquatic Park, right by the frontage road and then the bay. In some ways it is representative of the crazy eclectic mix which is Berkeley itself. On its northern half, Aquatic Park has a nice playground and area where people can jog, etc. On its southern end, however, Aquatic Park is well known as a gay hook-up spot. If this seems like a strange mix, it certainly is—but in many ways that’s Berkeley. It’s a city that is constantly challenging you to hold opposing thoughts in your head at the same time.
  • Affordable Rents
  • Aquatic Park
  • Flat and Bland
  • Small, Older Houses
  • A Bit Rundown
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Hipsters
StephSF West Berkeley is also home to Berkeley Ironworks. Don't be fooled by the name - this abandoned factor has actually been renovated into one of the best climbing gyms in the Bay Area. With topropes galore, a massive bouldering cave, yoga classes and both weights and cardio machines, the gym is a paradise not only for climbers but for any multisport athletes. Soft ratings, a host of rental equipment and massive overhanging lead-only routes make this an ideal place for beginners and experts alike.

Even better, the gym is a community for many locals and hosts everyman climbing competitions several times a year for your "average joe" climbers. Think open climbs, no formal registration, pizza, and beer (once the beer wristband goes on, the climbing stops!) Comps are free for members and food and drink are included.

Ironworks is part of the Touchstone Climbing family, which has gyms in Oakland, San Francisco, Concord and Sacramento, and memberships are reciprocal. You can learn more at www.touchstoneclimbing.com
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