How Quirky is Berkeley? Recently lost murals

1340 Martin Luther King Way. Photo: John Storey
1340 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Photo: John Storey

The “Welcome to the Lorin District” mural is no longer visible. It is now obstructed by a new building on the north. Murals are intrinsically temporal – they come and they go. We seem to be in no danger of losing our mural identity but, over the last year, we have lost more than a few murals.

2499 Telegraph on Dwight. Photo: John Storey
2499 Telegraph at Dwight. Photo: John Storey

The mural above was spray-painted in 2013 by Tim Hon and Steve Ha of the Illuminaries art group. Shakespeare Books closed in 2015, and, when reconstruction began on the entire northeast corner of Dwight and Telegraph, we lost the mural.

2250 Dwight Way. Photo: John Storey
2250 Dwight Way. Photo: John Storey

The Roxie Food Center at Dwight and Ellsworth was, until the last year a little neighborhood bodega. There were several generations of murals on the building. The Roxie is no more, back to residential.  And the murals are no more.

2425 Stuart Street. Photo: John Storey
2425 Stuart St. Photo: John Storey

On the south-facing wall of Willard School on Stuart Street, there was a mural designed and painted by Malaquias Montoya in 1987 with help from the California College and Arts and Crafts in Oakland. It depicted heroic, multicultural figures in struggle and a dysptopian vision, including American, Soviet and British robot dogs. The western end of the mural is still there, but this summer a more cheerful, colorful, apolitical celebration of Willard students replaced the Montoya dystopian vision.


1601 California Street. Photo: John Storey
1601 California St. Photo: John Storey

The west-facing mural of the Cedar Market at 1601 California is gone. The store reverted to its original design, with large windows looking out onto California and letting light into the store. The north-facing GOOD VIBES mural along Cedar is alive and well. I liked the west-facing mural, but the re-introduction of windows and daylight in the store is a good thing.

This last one hurts.

1776 San Pablo Avenue. Photo: Tom Dalzell
1776 San Pablo Ave. Photo: Tom Dalzell

Popeyes Fried Chicken at 1776 San Pablo for a while broke the corporate mold and had small murals depicting Cajun musicians. Corporate logos have replaced these lovely depictions of Cajun culture. Too bad!

As I said above, murals come and murals go. Berkeley is changing before our eyes, but the loss of these murals isn’t necessarily the result of the development boom. No soapbox here or now about what is happening with Berkeley, only these photos celebrating what we once had and no longer have.

Tom Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,600 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means.

A longer version of this post may be found at Quirky Berkeley.

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