How Quirky is Berkeley? The safety pin on Page Street

812 Page Street. Photo: Doug Heine

Doug Heine made the safety pin sculpture at 812 Page St. Heine is thoroughbred Quirky Berkeleyan.

He lives across the street from the safety pin, at 813 Page St. You may know his home — there appears to be an airplane crashing into the roof.

As is the case in much of West Berkeley, change is afoot in Heine’s neighborhood, which is Page Street between Fifth and Sixth streets.

It is a neighborhood of working-class bungalows, small warehouses, artists and alleys. The property at 812 Page, across from Heine’s studio, has recently been developed. The original structure was a two-story stucco building constructed in 1960. It was occupied by Huneke Plumbing & Heating until 1980, Trout Plumbing until 1990, the Building Education Center until 2010, and most recently AutoMate Scientific since 2012.


Doug Heine. Photo: John Storey

Architect Matthew Wadlund, of Wadlund + Design Studio in Berkeley, developed the property with Automate. Wadlund’s background is in energy policy, land conservation, culinary arts and carpentry. He demolished the existing stucco office and built an office building for AutoMate, as well as four condominiums.

Heine sent me the safety pin photo above and the simple explanation: “Here is the safety pin that the architect commissioned me to do for the new office building across the street from my house.”

The safety pin enjoyed an intense but short life as a symbol of resistance. Valeriya Safronova wrote this about the safety-pin-as-political-statement in the New York Times on November 16, 2016: “After the election of Donald J. Trump, fears are growing that segments of his base may physically or emotionally abuse minorities, immigrants, women and members of the L.G.B.T. community. As a show of support, groups of people across America are attaching safety pins to their lapels, shirts and dresses to signify that they are linked, willing to stand up for the vulnerable.”

812 Page St. Photo: Doug Heine

The last 2017 Quirky Berkeley post on my blog featured the safety pin on Page Street — as an exhortation to stand up for the vulnerable and stand against those who would abuse the vulnerable, the safety pin seemed a fitting metaphor.

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 8,000 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-plus-year resident muses on what it all means.


For a fuller version of this post with more photos, see Quirky Berkeley.