That notwithstanding, the essence of the Olmsted plan has survived. The center of Campus is still dominated by a large glade, called Memorial Glade, and the voluminous tree groves, located along the two creeks and at their confluence, have been preserved. It is only the nature of the trees that has been changed. Already from the outset, new trees were planted, such as, Cedars, Pines, Cypresses and Olive Trees, to complement the native triad. At the creeks’ confluence, the forest was completely renewed, by planting only Blue Eucalyptus. But what about the redwoods? They arrived much later, planted as they were by University Landscape Architect Gregg in the early 1930s.
A little further on, just opposite California Hall, stands a memorable clock in marble, donated, no doubt, by a class of alumni from times long past. Below this clock, many a student demonstration is taking place, to convince the University Administration, which is located in California Hall, to better its ways. The signs on the clock tell the story of a recent hunger strike on the greens in front of the building, to convince the Chancellor to protest against a newly adopted law in Arizona permitting the police to arrest anyone, without a permit, that they suspect being an immigrant.
It started out as a steam plant! When steam went out of fashion, it was refurbished as the UCB Art Gallery, until the University’s Art Museum was completed, in 1970. Thereafter it was, successively, used as the bike bureau of the campus police; a facility for storing used furniture; and a campus stationery store. The music department currently is raising money to renovate this venerable brownstone for use as a concert and performance facility. We can but congratulate this decision to save an enticing jewel in the jungle.
It took the more sedate pace of mature age to observe that the wall there was adorned with two memorable mosaics, almost Byzantine in their splendor, albeit with distinctly modern motives. These two images bear beautiful witness to the depressed times of the ‘thirties, when America rose to the task and introduced a series of policies to wrench the country out of its misery, with activities organized by the Works Project Authority (WPA) within the New Deal. The work was done in 1936, by the two female artists Helen Bruton and Florence Swift. Are we doing as well in present times of crisis, when organizing public projects?
You may have noticed that my blog is sorely missing pictures of campus sculptures, although many a statue is adorning this place of academic virtue. There is a reason for this: who would be interested, on our old continent, in the quixotic statues of academic athletes and coaches, that abound around the halls and glades, bearing witness to the typical American symbiosis of sports and academics? Our interest remains firmly focused on more traditional esthetics, preferably in the form of enticing young females!
Can you guess which of the two is the better maintained and more orderly? You guessed right! If you ever would plan to follow in my footsteps, dear readers, and spend some time in Berkeley, here is a nice idea for you: even without being faculty you can rent a room in one of these cozy venerable establishments. The cost is still moderate and, whilst staying in the midst of calm and cool glades, you reside smack in the middle of campus and the town of Berkeley, with all the main attractions only at less than half an hour’s walk away. You would have to be a pedestrian though, no parking facilities appear available nearby.