Berkeley is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County. It is bordered by the cities of Oakland and Emeryville to the south and by the city of Albany and unincorporated community of Kensington to the north, while its eastern limit is the border with Contra Costa County that generally follows the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. Berkeley is the site of the oldest campus in the University of California system – the University of California, Berkeley – and of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that the university manages and operates.
- Berkeley has a number of distinct neighborhoods.
- Surrounding the University of California campus are the most densely populated parts of the city. West of the campus is Downtown Berkeley, the city’s traditional commercial core; home of the civic center, the city’s only public high school, the busiest BART station in Berkeley, as well as a major transfer point for AC Transit buses. North of the campus is the quieter Northside neighborhood, the location of the Graduate Theological Union. Further from the university campus, the influence of the University quickly becomes less visible. Most of Berkeley’s neighborhoods are primarily made up of detached houses, often with separate in-law units in the rear, although larger apartment buildings are also common in many neighborhoods. Commercial activities are concentrated along the major avenues and at important intersections.
- In the southeastern corner of the city is the Claremont District, home to the Claremont Hotel; and the Elmwood District, with a small shopping area on College Avenue.
- West of (and including) San Pablo Avenue, a major commercial corridor, is West Berkeley, the historic commercial center of the city, and the former unincorporated town of Ocean View. West Berkeley contains the remnants of Berkeley’s industrial area, much of which has been replaced by retail and office uses, as well as residential live/work loft space, with the decline of manufacturing in the United States. Along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay at the foot of University Avenue is the Berkeley Marina. Nearby is Berkeley’s Aquatic Park, featuring an artificial linear lagoon of San Francisco Bay.
- North of Downtown is the North Berkeley neighborhood, which has a concentration of well-known restaurants and other food-related businesses. Further north are Northbrae, a master-planned subdivision from the early 20th century, and Thousand Oaks. Above these last three neighborhoods, in the northeastern part of Berkeley, are the Berkeley Hills. The neighborhoods of the Berkeley Hills such as Cragmont and La Loma Park are notable for their dramatic views, winding streets, and numerous public stairways and paths.