Perched along Berkeley’s northern border, history-rich Kensington is home to many professors from the nearby University of California campus. It’s no wonder that Hilltop Elementary has a great reputation. Many residents enjoy dramatic views from Oakland to Marin; this quaint community attracts professionals and families who enjoy a village feel.
The architectural styles here vary widely: Colonial, Spanish style, and older Tudors dot the landscape. But it wasn’t always that way, of course. Originally populated by the Huichin Ohlone people, this territory was taken over by the Republic of Mexico who made land grants to Francisco Castro, a veteran of the Mexican Army. Later in the 1890’s Anson Blake purchased the land, and by 1911 development had begun; the area was named Kensington, after London’s borough of South Kensington.
During the 1940’s a streetcar service, fed by a network of pathways, connected the various neighborhoods. Today buses and cars move people, but many of the pathways remain, offering “hidden” private shortcuts through the hills.
Two main commercial areas offer residents delicious options for gathering: a shopping area along Arlington Avenue has a wonderful grocery, wine shop, drug store and breakfast spot (with the best brunches ever). At the bottom of the hill, you’ll find Colusa Circle, with the family-friendly Kensington Circus Pub (a great place to hear live music), a fantastic grocer, a yummy bakery, and, on Sundays, a farmer’s market brimming with fresh organic foods of all kinds.
For those who thrive outdoors, Tilden Park is just a few minutes away. Go for a hike, or take the kids to see the Botanical Gardens, Lake Anza, the carousel and the steam trains.