Images of 2012: The Berkeley year in photos

Sometimes it’s all about the image. Berkeleyside has strived to track down and publish great photography since its inception more than three years ago. You know what they say about the worth of a picture …

As the year draws to a close, we have selected photographs for each month of 2012 to present a visual trip down Berkeley’s memory lane.

This is an opportune moment to thank all the wonderful photographers who contribute to the Berkeleyside Flickr pool and send us their images by other means. Berkeleyside would be a lesser site without you.



Berkeleyan Michael Layefsky, who we profiled in January, launches helium balloons to capture dramatic shots such as this one of the Berkeley Art Museum from on high. BAM/PFA will move to a new downtown location in the not too distant future, into a building designed by New York architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, as its current building does not meet seismic standards. Photo: Michael Layefsky



There was much excitement in February when it was discovered that five Western burrowing owls had returned to Cesar Chavez Park on the Berkeley Marina. The small ground-dwelling birds spend much of the day sitting alertly near their burrows, astonishingly close to all those humans enjoying the park with dogs, kites and strollers. Photo: Doug Donaldson



March saw a fair amount of rain. Berkeley’s creeks ran high and the early spring skyscapes were often beautiful to behold. Photo: Joe Parks


In March, hundreds of Cal students took part in Occupy  protests against cuts to public education. Photo: Pete Rosos



In April, Occupy the Farm activists broke into and took over the UC Berkeley-managed Gill Tract in Albany, planting carrots, broccoli and corn seedlings to protest what they saw as the university’s inappropriate use of the property . Photo: Tracey Taylor

Great Horned Owl, Owlet, and lunch

In April, a Great Horned Owl made its nest in the crotch of a Eucalyptus tree on Berkeley’s Claremont Canyon fire trail. The arrival of a chick was a source of fascination for many bird-loving hikers and photographers. This photo was taken on April 24 by Lee Aurich



Watching the partial eclipse of the sun on the afternoon of Sunday May 20 at the Lawrence Hall of Science. Photo: Elazar Sontag


May offered another reason to gaze skywards with the appearance on May 5 of the supermoon, “the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit.” Photo: Ira Serkes



Yarn decorates the bike racks outside Berkeley’s North Branch Library in June after the originals were removed by the Library because they felt the guerrilla artwork detracted from the library’s grand re-opening ceremony in April. Photo: Streetcolor



When the U.S. Post Office announced it would sell the historic building that houses the downtown Berkeley post office, many locals and officials vowed to save it. However, as we reported in July, precedents set in other states suggest chances of it not being sold are slim. Photo: D.H. Parks

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Berkeleyside contributor John Rieger wanted to know what’s up with all the chickens in Berkeley. So, in July, he set out with Berkeleyside contributing photographer Nancy Rubin to find out what’s clucking and produced a wonderful photo-podcast. Photo: Nancy Rubin


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Berkeleyans had front row seats to a fire that erupted at the Chevron refinery in Richmond on Aug. 6. More than 80 firefighters spent five hours battling the blaze which prompted shelter in place orders for an estimated 160,000 local residents. Photo: Jef Poskanzer

Cal memorial stadium

August saw the unveiling of a renovated Memorial Stadium, the result of more than 30 years of planning, $321 million in pledged funding, many feats of seismic engineering, and 21 months of construction. Photo: D.H. Parks


In August, SOL Grotto, an art installation at the Natural Discourse show at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens, got right-wing bloggers, Fox News and the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a froth after they discovered it used 1,368 glass tubes salvaged from Solyndra, the Fremont-based solar cell manufacturer that went bankrupt despite a $527 million loan from the federal government. Photo: D. H. Parks



On Sept. 12 Berkeleyans looked up to see numbers being drawn in the sky. “Pi in the Sky,” a Bay Area spectacle put on by a team of synchronized skywriters orchestrated by California artist ISHKY, was part of the Zero1 Biennal, a Silicon Valley-based art gathering. On display: pi, 3.14159 and so forth a thousand places being painstakingly depicted in the sky. Photo: Carly


On Sept. 21 Berkeleyans in their thousands turned out to see space shuttle Endeavour, carried on a specially adapted NASA 747, fly just over the city’s rooftops and the bay. Many gathered at vista points in the hills, including Grizzly Peak Drive, Inspiration Point, and the Lawrence Hall of Science, but others looked open-mouthed from sidewalks, school playgrounds and the bleachers at Berkeley High. Photo: Alan Tobey


Measure S, the proposal to ban sitting on sidewalks in commercial districts in business hours, was by far the most hotly debated measure on the Berkeley ballot in the run-up to the elections. (The measure failed.) Photo: Emilie Raguso

Measure S, the proposal to ban sitting on sidewalks in commercial districts in business hours, was by far the most hotly debated measure on the Berkeley ballot in the run-up to the elections. (The measure failed.) Photo: Emilie Raguso


A California newt on South Park Drive. Every year the road is closed for the annual newt migration, and this year local residents asked authorities — to no avail — if it could be done early as newts, brought out by early rains, were being slaughtered by cars. Photo: s. jo



Jeff Tedford, head coach of the Cal Golden Bears football team since 2002, was fired on Nov. 20 after a 3-9 season and a combined 15-22 record over the last three seasons. Tedford was the highest paid state employee in California, with a salary of $2.3 million a year. Photo: Joe Parks


The elections came to Berkeley and, despite some hard campaigning for Council seats and lobbying for crucial city measures, there were no big upsets after Nov. 6 2012. Photo: ‘fathomfive



It got cold in December, and, somehow, the plunging temperatures always seem to take us Berkeleyans by surprise. This photo, by Ira Serkes, was titled, “Forget Berkeley in the 60s, it’s Berkeley in the 30s.”

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  • M.E. Lawrence

    Many thanks to Berkeleyside and all the artists for a spectacular 2012 portfolio. The owls and skyscapes are especially memorable.

  • Zelda Bronstein

    The elections came to Berkeley and, despite some hard campaigning for Council seats and lobbying for crucial city measures, there were no big upsets after Nov. 6 2012.

    “[N]o big upsets” in Berkeley elections?

    How about the defeats of Measures S and T? Both were endorsed by Tom Bates, Loni Hancock, Nancy Skinner and the Berkeley Democratic Club. More to the point, Yes on S raised at least $113,000 (final campaign funding reports due at the end of January)–the most money ever raised in a Berkeley election campaign–to No on S’s $16,000, while Yes on T raised $53,000 to No on T’s $28,000. Yet both measures went down.

    Those were both stunning upsets.

  • Great photos!!

  • Rita

    What fantastic photos! Thanks especially for your “Berkeley in the 30s” photo, Ira.

  • kimosabe

    Thank you for featuring some of my some of my favorite shots of the year. Your photos keep me coming back.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    An “upset” is when there’s an unexpected result. Both measures were very close all along and so there was no reason to expect passage, hence no upset when the measures failed.

  • Zelda Bronstein

    How do you know that both measures were very close all along? I’m not aware of any polls that were done, at least none whose results were made public. Furthermore, in light of the huge success of Measure R (rezoned Downtown for high-rise development) in the 2010 election, the Yes on T campaign and the Bates-Hancock-Skinner machine had good reason to expect that T would pass as well. And it almost did, losing by only 512 votes. If Yes on T had run a competent campaign, the measure might well have passed. As for Measure S: it’s ludicrous to claim that the defeat of a measure whose proponents outraised its opponents by 9-to-1, and who poured over $100,000 into their campaign was not an upset.

  • Frances Dinkelspiel

    Zelda, Tracey is on vacation but I think she meant that there were no big changes as a result of the election. All the incumbents were re-elected. You are correct that the defeat of Measures S and T represented a defeat for Bates and his supporters and most of the city council, but that also meant there were no changes to the status quo, so no “upsets.”

  • Zelda Bronstein

    If that’s what Tracey meant, I certainly agree. It appears that Pragmatic Progressive has a different view–one in line with what I originally attributed to Tracey. In any case, not all defeats are upsets. In my opinion, these were, not the least because the passage of Measures S and T–especially T–would have dramatically altered the character of Berkeley.