Street addresses on the Oakland/Berkeley border

San Francisco colored by address numbers, via cartophile. Yellow means lower house numbers, blue means higher numbers, as far as I can tell; the highest numbers are on very long streets like Mission and Geary. Parts of San Francisco have nice orderly grids of streets and street numbers that reflect that; others less so. I especially get confused in the Mission; 16th and Mission, for example, is 2000 Mission, while 16th and Valencia is 500 Valencia. Since there are numbered streets I want the house numbers to line up with the street numbers — I want both to be 1600. (For the most part Market and the streets running parallel to and south of it, like Mission, are off by four hundred from where I expect them to be, consistently. I can live with that, I can remember the offset.)

I live near the Oakland/Berkeley border. Oakland also has numbered streets, and at least in the flatlands the street numbers reflect the numbering — so 4799 Telegraph is between 47th and 48th Street, on the corner of 48th. Berkeley has very few numbered streets (and I don’t spend much time in the part of town where they are) but generally has a grid of streets and the numbering of houses seems to respect them — the address 2100 on an east-west street will be at Shattuck Avenue (which runs north-south), for example, or the addresss 2500 on a north-south street will be at Dwight Way (which runs east-west). So in both cases the analogue of this picture would look like the western parts of San Francisco. But it can get a little confusing along the border — In Oakland numbers increase as you head north and west, and even numbers are on the north and east sides of streets. In Berkeley they increase as you head south and east, and even numbers are on the south and west side of streets. Notice that there are four independent parameters here and the two cities clash on all four, which almost seems like a conscious decision.

Two very nice coordinate systems. Both have been useful in helping me navigate. But they don’t mesh.

This is particularly confusing if you walk the length of Alcatraz Avenue. Those not familiar with the Oakland-Berkeley borderlands are thinking “wait! isn’t Alcatraz on an island in the bay?” Those people are right, but if you extend the street into the bay it comes reasonably close to hitting Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz Avenue runs east-west for two miles roughly along the Oakland-Berkeley border, which it crosses three times. This wreaks havoc on the street numbering.

From Claremont Avenue to just west of College Avenue it’s in Berkeley; numbers decrease heading westbound, as they do in Berkeley, from the mid-2700s to the mid-2600s.

Then suddenly we’re in Oakland. On the south side of College the numbers drop from 2636 (Berkeley), 317, 319, 321 (Oakland). Alcatraz Avenue remains in Oakland until Dover Street, the next intersection west of Shattuck); for example on the north side of the street numbers go 770, 774, 778, 784 (last house in Oakland), 1917 (first house in Berkeley), 1909, 1901, and decreasing. (This is all from poking around maps on Zillow, the real estate site, since they show every lot.)

Numbers reach 1269 just west of Idaho Street; then they jump back to the Oakland numbering scheme as the street crosses the border again, starting at 1046 and increasing westbound – to just under 1100 at San Pablo Avenue, where the street ends.

So the numbers go down, then up, then down, then up; the ranges of numbers that exist are roughly 310-790 and 1040-1100 (both in Oakland) and 1260-1920 and 2630-2750 (both in Berkeley). It’s lucky that there’s no duplication, at least, because people don’t generally seem too aware of where the municipal border is, despite the “Nuclear Free Zone” signs that Berkeley posts. (Oakland’s nuclear-free, too, but they’re quieter about it.) I live in Oakland, if I remember correctly in the sixth house over the border. My landlord says the house is in Berkeley, presumably to get more rent.


3 thoughts on “Street addresses on the Oakland/Berkeley border

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  2. […] Because I am a hard-partying creature, I spent one of my last nights in Berkeley before a two-month absence going for a walk on the Oakland-Berkeley border. I’m not sure why the border gets so weird around here (had minor angst about it several months ago): north of Lake Merritt, Oakland’s east-west streets are numbered starting at 1 at the lake and ending with 67th on the border with Berkeley—in Berkeley, in fact, along with bits of 66th, 65th, 63rd, and 62nd (there is no 64th…possibly it got renamed as Alcatraz, since that’s where a hypothetical 64th Street would be). All of those streets are already in bits, scattered in disjointed dead-ends, pseudo cul-de-sacs, jagged blocks that never meet main roads—some of which are in Oakland, some of which are in Berkeley, and some of which are in Emeryville, most likely for reasons of a gerrymandering sort. Not only is the border sometimes north of Alcatraz and sometimes south, but Alcatraz itself will switch spasmodically between the two cities, the house numbers wildly disparate depending on which city you’re in. (Great blog post on that here) […]

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