My father’s mother lived in an apartment on Montgomery Avenue in Haverford, Pennsylvania. It was called Concord Arms. There was a doorman, an elevator, smells of cooking and mothballs and wool carpeting, comfortable lobbies. I was fascinated. I still have an occasional dream that takes place in the upstairs lobbies.
In my original conceptualization of Quirky Berkeley I had no thought of collecting photos of signs with apartment names. But then I saw my first few – Tamarin, Luxor, Garden – and I was hooked.
Rick protests. He says that the idea of apartment names is West Hollywood, not Berkeley. Okay. Too bad he’s not the final judge. I am. What would Mel Brooks say? My ruling is: they stay. Only liquor stores come anywhere near apartment houses for poetic and creative naming. And they usually don’t come close. The Tip Top on San Pablo is great. We will have to see how they develope.
I read somewhere that Dickens wandered through cemeteries and harvested names for characters in his novel. Ditto here – you can wander through the names of the real-life Berkeley apartments and use almost any of them for the noir novel or screenplay that you are writing. The list of names is musical – The Americana, Andres Castro Arms, Ashby Apartments, Berkeley Court Apartments, Berkeley Park, Berkshire Arms, Bishop Berkeley, California, Cambridge Apartments, Carlotta Manor, Chandler Apartments, Channing Poolside Apartments, Campanille Court, Crest Royal, Danbert, Delaware Arms, Durant Place, Dwight Way Court, the Elsmere , Eucridge Apts., Evans Manor, Garden Apartments, Garden Court, Grace Gardens, Heywood Apartments, Howard Hall Apartments, Indra Vhavan, Karen Apartments, Lamond Court, Lavera, Live Oak Apts., Loretta, Luxor, Mabelcrest, Manor Wincres,Manville, Marianne, Nichols Apts., Norgren, Nortonville, Palazzo, Pamela Apartments, Parker House, Parkway, Peterson, Picardo Arms, Prospect Manor, Rapa-Nui, The Redfern, Regent Manor, Riviera Apartments, Rosevia, RRB Apts., The Rubicon, Rumi Apartments, Sharon Manor, Sunny Gables, Tamarin, The Benvenue, The Collegiate, The Euclid, The Four Cedars, Treehaven, Vanguard, Walnut, Winecrest, and York. Poetry!
Are names material culture? Well, debate that all you want because there are the signs and they are. So – from Ashby to York, here they are, at the least the ones with photogenic signs. Every impulse in my body screams out for completionist approach and every photo of every sign. Not gonna do it. Just the better signs, Ashby to York. Which, I admit, is almost all of them. Let’s listen to Paul Simon sing about apartment house rules and apartment house fools and check out Berkeley apartment names/signs:
According to the Centennial Record of the University of California, we got our name when one very educated College of California man mused was he watched two ships sailing out the Golden Gate upon Bishop George Berkeley’s (1685-1753) line “westward the course of empire takes its way.” Very literary! And then we ignored the way he pronounced his name (bark-lee) and called ourselves berk-lee. Very independent!
Rapa Nui is the Polynesian word for Easter Island, or the people of Easter Island. Brief journey off the path:
I don’t know what “RRB” stands for. I’d like to know. Tell me if you know.
The Rubicon, you say? Who can resist? I can’t:
Back to R’s:
One suspects that the Rumi Apartments are named in honor of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, a 13th century Persian Sufi mystic (hierarchy of adjectives at play!). This is a nice image of Rumi:
But I digress. Back to apartments.
Not just one vanguard, but two:
The Walnut is paired with the Lavera, shown above. The Lavera and the Walnut. On Walnut Street. La vera is the side. The side / Walnut.
And to warm the heart of a son of Pennsylvania:
Rick might have been right, I know. But I do love these names and signs. My friend remembered how much he loved Raymond Chandler and these photos – the names really – got him buried in The Long Goodbye. Knowing him as I know him, he’ll plow through every Chandler he can find. I had to push him on the photos. They are quirky enough for me and my friend: