HISTART 192G | Writing About Berkeley’s Built Environment: Two Residential Neighborhoods

2021 Fall | Tues, 2-5 PM | COURSE #31217 | UNITS: 3

Margaretta Lovell & Elizabeth Fair

Students in this upper-division seminar investigate Berkeley’s residential history with case studies of two distinct neighborhoods, one in the hills and one in the flats.

The hills section includes Native American sites, a Southern Pacific Railroad tunnel, and topographically sensitive planning designed with deeply theorized c. 1910 ideas generated by a group of activist progressive women about the relationship between settlement and topography, as well as houses designed by Berkeley’s most distinguished architects. The residential section in the flats is an historically Black neighborhood that includes homes in which railroad porter Leon Marsh, newspaper man Thomas C. Fleming, politician William Byron Rumford, police officer Walter Gordon, and WPA artist Sargent Johnson lived.

Students learn about redlining and protective covenants, as well as campaigns to establish native species of plants and alleés of street trees and parks. They learn about and write about evolving transportation systems.

The project of the course is two-pronged: to engage students in developing the skills to write a wide variety of different kinds of research/analysis essays on the one hand and, on the other, to work as a group toward National Register designations for both these neighborhoods.

Students practice real-world persuasive writing, acquiring life skills that will contribute to our pool of knowledge and a public sense of value in the crafting and ‘reading’ of streetscapes and neighborhoods.