I chose this photo as the lead for the post before knowing it was a City of Berkeley Landmark – the Clephane Building (1905), C.M. Cook, architect, long known as Black & White Liquor. Even without the architectural pedigree, it is a perfect first photo of Black and White Liquor for this next in a series of Quirky Berkeley black and white photo posts.
I’ve heard liquor stores called bottle stores, off licences, bottle shops, bottle-o’s, package store, paks, packies, party stores, and ABC stores. In my hometown – Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania – the liquor store on Lancaster Avenue was called the State Store. Pennsylvania still has state-run liquor stores. The name “State Store” was changed to “Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits Store” and later “Fine Wine & Good Spirits Store. I prefer “State Store.” I find it less pretentious.
Berkeley is not Pennsylvania. We have liquor stores not state stores. The signage and design of Berkeley’s liquor stores range from the Oh So Bland to the Hopelessly Funky Romantic Cool. Let’s start with the cool ones.
For a while Pic ‘n Pac got bonus points because it was next to a bingo parlor. Double sin!
Ledger’s sells small Individual York mints for sale at the cash register – a bonus.
Here is what’s coming to the site.
We are told: “The proposed project provides an active ground floor with residential housing above. The project will revitalize this particular block of this important mixed use commercial district by infusing the site with more activity, increasing the appeal of the pedestrian experience, improving pedestrian safety, and promoting non-automotive modes of transportation.”
I thought a few years ago that San Pablo Avenue with its funk would withstand gentrification/blandification. I was wrong. Gag me. I might be in a minority on this one, but I’ll take the funk of the liquor store ANY DAY OF THE WEEK over the gentrified eyesore planned for the corner. As Tom Wolfe wrote, you have to wonder what proposed design came in second if this was first. Yuck.
Back to the cool stores –
Wow! Lest you think that I object to all change – this beauty. John Gordon took a kinda ratty building and with love restored/rehabbed it. What he touches turns to gold.
Plus I love the advertising spelling – Bi-Rite. Is this advertising a bisexual ritual? Love it.
Bob’s is a beauty but from time to time shit gets real here. Example – on March 29, 2012, Vallejo resident Devin Lee Whitmire was shot and killed at the corner. Randall Oscar Alston, a 19-year-old Berkeley resident, was arrested in connection with the crime.
I am not deterred though. I stop there and buy a soda and am not afraid. In daylight at least.
This may be the best liquor store sign in Berkeley. Cuz-a-that I make the photos big here.
A few years ago, this sign ilaunched a long digression of a post about reduplication.
Who in their right mind would pass up a photo with a sign advertising Krispy Krunchy Chicken?
Hands down – best name for a liquor store in this collection. The photo rocks too.
I cheated again. You caught me again. Oakland. But close. I like (a) the juxtaposition of products on the sign – video and liquor; and (b) the peaked roof.
I mean no disrespect to Bland County, Virginia, but here are Berkeley liquor stores with architecture and signage that I find bland.
Divinely creative Quirky Berkeley photographer John Storey pronounced this the blandest liquor store in Berkeley. I am not sure I agree but I value his opinion. It is named the Marina Liquor Store. No marina in sight, so in my Irony Book it gets extra points for that irony.
Bing’s, like Bob’s, has something of a rough reputation, with stories like this. Like Bob’s though, I don’t hesitate stopping at Bing’s. In daylight at least. I get a Tally’s Corner vibe.
The white wall and boring sign are relatively new, replacing this:
In this case, newer is not better.
Last summer, developer Grosvenor Americas submitted an application for a $150 million, 12-story development at this site with 156 apartment units plus retail on the ground floor.
God. Help. Us.
The developer’s spokesperson said “Grosvenor designs buildings specifically for their neighborhoods,” Really?????? How is this specifically for downtown Berkeley? Do tell.
On the bright side, there will be bicycle parking and a roof deck, And a dog run on the roof!!!!!! Which means the astroturf will be piss-soaked and nobody will clean up after their dog and IT WILL STINK REAL BAD. Ask Emeryville.
My friends, is this what we have become?
Artisanal Beverage Purveyor. Those words almost disqualify this photo.
That’s the crop. And, by the way, I will acknowledge that there are those who find liquor stores to be scourges on neighborhoods. This blog focuses on the downside of liquor stores in North Oakland and in the process presents a couple of good photos which make my point about how cool they can look.
In closing – I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another gone-not-forgotten liquor store
Alcatel – the preferred liquor store for generations of underage Berkeley young people intent on buying beer.
While on the subject of Telegraph and Alcatraz, here is a little piece of another time.
Miniature golf in Berkeley! I know that there was also one at University and Milvia, where the Firestone Tires store was and the Stonefire apartments now are. Stonefire tells us that they are “the ideal premier apartment community to call home.” A two-bedroom apartment in the Stonefire runs about six grand a month. Perfect for the Cal student on a tight budget, assuming they are willing to sleep three to a room.
While on the off-topic topic of development, a City Council majority recently affirmed approval of an 18-story building with 274 units at the site of the downtown Berkeley Walgreens, 2190 Shattuck Ave. The developer, Mill Creeks Apartments, brags “we’ve developed two unique community brands that give you more options to match your personality and what you are looking for in a place to call home.” There will be a two-story underground parking garage. Plus – an arts niche and community room!!!
The smiling City Council majority boasted of “a new day in Berkeley.”
A new day indeed. Lori Droste and others calling themselves progressives celebrated a flat-out victory for the 1%.
Number of affordable units planned: zero.
Number of market rate units planned: 274. No riffraff need apply – there might be a poor-people-only Mitigation Tower for you somewhere someday. A BIG BIG win for economic stratification. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
While casting about for a design for Mitigation Tower, here’s a money-saving idea. Just borrow the design of Chicago’s Cabrini Greens to match its class-based housing model. Bonus: the elevators don’t need to work and lightbulbs in the stairwells are optional and HVAC can be iffy. What a deal!
For the smiling champions of the 1% on our City Council, here is a little history lesson.
The Berkeley Tenants Union embraced this operating principle of the Black Panther Party.
If something was good for developers, it wasn’t good for BTU.
If something was good for landlords, it was wasn’t good for tenants.
If something was good for Berkeley Apartment Owner’s Association, it wasn’t good for us.
If something is good for the Berkeley Property Owners’ Association, it is bad for us. They call themselves rental housing providers, not landlords If something is good for rental housing providers, it is bad for us.
If something is good for real estate investment trusts, it is bad for us.
If something is good for Equity Residential, it is bad for us.
If something is good for Peter Thiel, it is Very Very bad for us.
Companera Droste and friends – you of course can champion and celebrate whatever and whoever you want. Just don’t kid yourselves about supporting the 1% as being righteous. What you are doing is bad for us.
With that, my readers stood and cheered. Loud and long. I blushed.
My friend put down the post after I showed it to him for his comments. “Well, well, I technically see how you got from liquor stores to that rant, but your frustration is showing. Isn’t the problem pure economics? The Panthers said they wanted decent housing fit for the shelter of human beings. But a developer doesn’t make money building decent housing for poor people. They make money building luxury housing. Simple as that. It’s money that matters.”
Be that all as it may, what about the liquor store photos?
He seemed happy to get away from the conversation about developers and to answer my question.