Quirky Berkeley is about material culture. Signs are material culture. The theory of signs for the study of material culture is well-established. To borrow a phrase from John Jakle and Keith Sculle, signs are “signatures of landscape and place.”
In August 2014 I posted on the signs of San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. I have also posted on the signs of University Avenue, Shattuck Avenue, signs from the past, signs of Little India, the neon signs of University and San Pablo avenues, and the neon signs of Telegraph Avenue.
San Pablo Avenue is a transit corridor, an area where trips tend to cluster in a general linear pattern, with feeder routes linking to trunk lines that carry longer distance trips in a metropolitan area.
San Pablo Avenue is a SMART transit corridor that uses a combination of hardware and communication technologies to make transportation systems operate more efficiently and safely. The idea is to divert traffic off Interstate 80 onto San Pablo Avenue when 80 is clogged up. Good idea for us!
San Pablo Avenue being a transit corridor means that San Pablo and its feeder streets are of greater interest to developers than they had been. Funky things on San Pablo are being demolished and pricey apartments for tech workers who can’t find pricey apartments in San Francisco are popping up.
But – I love San Pablo in all its still-messy glory. The mechanics and auto-body men and used car salesmen and roofers and working class bars and dive bars and burger joints and hot dog joints and discount cigarettes and Albany Bowl in its neon glory and you hear Spanish and Armenian and Farsi and Tagalog and Chinese and Arabic and Hebrew and the workers all know each other and kid each other and they work hard and fix things and get dirty and are outgoing and welcoming and of course there are junkies and tweakers but not so many and the smell of fried chicken and auto body paint and the best Japanese tool store EVER ANYWHERE with a shop cat and with my children I remember the tropical fish store and Mary and Joe’s BEST SPORTING GOODS STORE EVER anywhere with Jinx the shop cat now departed but Jinx was a good cat, and there is Hawaiian barbecue and the crack of the pool ball, neon buzzing’, the telephone’s ringing it’s your second cousin….
Reel it back in,Tom! Tone it down!
I post here photos of the best San Pablo Avenue signs from the Albany/Berkeley border to the Albany/El Cerrito border. If you are interested in seeing all 150 signs in that stretch of San Pablo, you can. It is not for everyone. If you one of the few, the proud, the elite obsessed,
My original post had all 150 photos. A wise and kind little voice said to me “Too many.” I am glad that I listened to that voice. It never lets me down.
I plan to shoot the signs on San Pablo in Oakland, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo, Pinole, Hercules, Rodeo, and Crockett. That is a lot of Quirky Berkeley rule-breaking by this wandering away from Berkeley but that’s just how much I love San Pablo Avenue.
Without further ado, let’s let the signs speak for themselves, signatures of landscape and place, from north to south, low number to high number.
There is a sister Norge in San Mateo.
Dig the globe on the left. Albany lost its globe. The San Mateo Norge became Dave’s Hubcaps and then in 2008 Jack’s Prime Burgers and Shakes.
How cool is the concept –
A Cleaning Village!
OK is good enough!
I am loving and proud of the sequence of the last three – donuts to vegan to cigarettes!
I showed this post to my friend. He scrolled through it and then went back to the top, to the Norge Laundry and Cleaning Village. He handed me a photo.
“When Earl and I went back to Detroit this spring we were driving out Seven Mile East and saw this. Earl got out his Canon and took this close-up:
“It used to be a Norge Laundry Village. Coincidence? There have to be coincidences or we wouldn’t have the word – but – I think not here. I think it’s stuff coming together the way it does.”
What does he think of the post?
I can’t believe I’ve never noticed those lips!