The following article on the South Berkeley Neighborhood, also known as The Lorin District, is reprinted from SF Gate. The link is below. I found the article intersting and hope you will too. I'm in love with this neighborhood as I've called it my home for the past 9 years and have seen it change greatly even in that short a time.
Typically, public transportation is built to merely serve a community, not necessarily be the impetus for its growth.
But that is not necessarily the case with South Berkeley's Ashby Station subdivision. The turn-of-the-century "streetcar suburb" grew in large part because of the public transportation hub enclosed by Adeline Street, Ashby Avenue and what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Way that has existed for the better part of the last hundred years.
That hub would provide an easy commute for an emerging middle class that was looking to flee urban living, yet still be close enough to get to and from work easily.
"By 1900, people were pretty stressed out by industry. Cities were dirty. Houses were really close together," said Dale Smith, who leads walking tours for the Berkeley Historical Society. "People in this part of town considered themselves to be living in the country."
And the same could be said today, according to Alameda Victorians agent John-Michael Kyono, who has an area home on the market at 2853 Stanton St. Kyono has worked with roughly a dozen homes in South Berkeley over the last five years.
"People love being by that BART stop, and, surprisingly, people don't hate the driving commute, either," he said. "Either way you look at it, you're roughly a 20-to-25-minute commute to the city."
That's not much of a change in how long it took to get from Ashby Station to the city a half-century ago.
"When the steam rail was replaced by the electric rail system, Berkeley really emerged as a streetcar suburb, and you could get to San Francisco in 25 minutes," said Charles Wollenberg, social science department chair at Vista College in Berkeley. "You really can't do better than that today."
During the post-World War II era, when suburbs swelled across the country, the neighborhood saw even more folks leaving the city and occupying the working-class Craftsman homes that were plentiful in the area. Kyono said those same homes are what attract people to the neighborhood these days.
"People love the architecture," Kyono said. "Most of the houses in this area are built prior to 1940. The streets are wide, and the neighborhood is built in a sort of circular style, so you don't have a lot of crosstown traffic."
After buses replaced streetcars in the late 1940s, the neighborhood went without rail transportation until the early 1970s, when the modern BART stop at 3100 Adeline St. opened. But the Ashby BART Station came at a cost, Wollenberg said. Construction of the new stop, which opened in 1973, destroyed part of the historic shopping district, stripping the neighborhood of its commercial core.
The area still hasn't seen the commercial boost many had hoped to get, and there's still a lingering reputation of crime left over from the late 1990s. But Kyono said since around 2000, that area of South Berkeley has gotten quite a bit safer.
"It's a very clean neighborhood, and it's a very walkable neighborhood," he said. "San Pablo Park is a very well-maintained park. Those tennis courts there are always being used."
But like any transitional community, the downturn in the economy hasn't helped. As a result, Realty Advocates co-founder Hal Feiger said the area is seeing some short sales. And Marvin Gardens Real Estate's Mark Choi, who is selling a multi-unit property in the neighborhood at 1530 Prince St., says the area has seen its share of foreclosures as well.
"On the 1500 block of Prince Street alone, I've seen three foreclosures in the last six months," he said.
But Kyono said people are still coming to the neighborhood, because it's one of the few places in Berkeley that you can get a home for at or under $600,000.
"You have people who are migrating from San Francisco who want a neighborhood with an artsy, cultural feel," he said. "And with things like the flea market near the train station on the weekend here, you've definitely got that."
Feiger sees the same thing.
"It's one of the few remaining affordable neighborhoods around here," he said, "and there's just as much diversity with the people shopping and working at the Berkeley Bowl (a popular area supermarket) as there are with the fruits and vegetables."
Kyono summed it up as the type of neighborhood that still has its roots but is welcoming to new residents.
"It's the type of neighborhood that still has many of the people that were born and raised there, and you're starting to see people with families moving back into the neighborhood and changing its dynamic," he said. "I was showing a house there the other day and as we're walking in, the neighbors - who had lived there for about 30 years - came out and said 'Hey, how you doing? You think you're gonna buy the house?' 'I grew up and went to school here,' etc. It's a friendly neighborhood. People reach out and want to know who lives here."
This article appeared on page J - 6 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/07/REGO1BSS2P.DTL#ixzz0fA1I3oHZ