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Insider: Berkeley

William Meppem

Photo: William Meppem

The Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School is an "organic garden and landscape integrated into the school's curriculum and lunch program," as its mission statement proclaims. Initiated by Alice Waters and maintained by students, it has branch-woven fences, a kiwi-vine-covered lounging structure filled with bales of hay, and a wood-burning pizza oven. Sure beats sloppy joes. Visits by appointment only; 510/558-1335; www.edibleschoolyard.org.

The activist spirit is still alive at the University of California at Berkeley. In the plaza just outside the campus entrance at Sather Gate, committees and groups representing every cause under the sun hold court and hand out fliers.

But there's more to do than relive the revolution. Guided architectural tours can be arranged; the school also has a self-guided walking-tour brochure that's easy to follow. Two notable buildings are the Hearst Gymnasium, designed by Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan, and the Faculty Club, designed by Maybeck, who taught architecture here.

The Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology (103 Kroeber Hall, Bancroft Way at College Ave.; 510/643-7648) has acquired major collections, including one associated with Ishi, the last Yahi Indian of northern California.

Sigma Phi members still live in Thorsen House, a 1909 Greene & Greene fraternity house, but if you knock on the door and ask politely, the brothers (and sisters — this is Berkeley) will let you wander through the stunning Arts and Crafts structure.

The Pacific Film Archive at the Berkeley Art Museum (2575 Bancroft Way; 510/642-1412) has an extensive film and video collection and gives regular screenings.

A short stroll west of campus, the award-winning Berkeley Repertory Theatre (2025 Addison St.; 510/845-4700; www.berkeleyrep.org) has expanded, opening a second stage and sparking a small renaissance on this downtown block. Just next door, the Aurora Theatre is also building a new home. And a jazz music school is coming soon on the same block.

Most Berkeley residents have given up hugging trees, but they do enjoy the great outdoors. The U.C. Botanical Garden is one of America's largest and most diverse — with more than 13,000 species of plants, arranged by region — and has astonishing views of the bay.

The 2,000 acres of Tilden Regional Park hold a golf course, a lake, and miles of hiking trails.


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