The History of Downtown: Events Pertaining to Circulation and Destination

Red=Events that emphasize Berkeley downtown as a destination or space to occupy/enjoy for longer periods of time. Green=Events that emphasize quickly circulating traffic and people through the downtown area.


Berkeley Branch Railroad

Approx. 1876

Constructed to connect Transcontinental Central Pacific Railroad to Oakland Pier.

Berkeley Station

Approx. 1878

Berkeley Station at Shattuck and Allston established as a rail depot. It is purely residential along Shattuck.

Berkeley Station Relocates

Approx. 1911

Under community pressure, Berkeley Station moves to West Berkeley to create a more lingering feel downtown. The California movie theater is established and the Shattuck Hotel opens above Hink & Son department store.

Wells Fargo

Approx. 1925

Wells Fargo is built on Shattuck and Allston.

UA Opens

Approx. 1932

United Arts movie theater opens on Shattuck, which is an ode to berkeley's commerce and downtown success during the depression era.

Berkeley Station Demolished

Approx. 1938

Berkeley Station is demolished and replaced by commercial buildings and a telegraph office.

Commercial Expansion

Approx. 1950

Significant retail expansion on Shattuck, Hink's department store thrives as a shopping destination. Parking islands along the centerline of Shattuck installed.


Approx. 1960

Parking islands on Shattuck are replaced by fountains to add to downtown ambience.


Approx. 1973

BART opens and its construction damages downtown destination appeal. Fountains on Shattuck removed.

Decline as Commercial Destination

Approx. 1978

Hink's closes, Berkeley as a regional shopping destination begins to decline. Shattuck is expanded to accommodate diagonal parking and circulate traffic through the area quicker.

Increased Circulation Focus

Approx. 1985

Fast food restaurants and banks occupy most of the commercial space. There is a greater focus on maximizing traffic flow/circulation through downtown.

Downtown Plan

Approx. 1990

The “Downtown Plan” to revitalize central Berkeley creates the arts district and increases density downtown for greater destination appeal. However,there is an emphasis on buildings built to the street edge, making commercial retail accessible by cars. There is little emphasis on well-designed streets for pedestrians.

New Downtown Plan Takes Shape

Approx. 2005

A new downtown plan is proposed to align interests of the city and the university.

New Plan Proposed

Approx. 2009

The proposal for new city plan with sustainability/pedestrian/bike components takes shape in order to emphasis Complete Streets and Berkeley as more of a destination.