La Vereda, the Orphaned Path

By SARITA TUKARAM Special to the Planet
Friday January 30, 2004

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last in a series of articles by UC Berkeley journalism students on the paths of Berkeley. 


La Vereda path seems like an orphan. Though it belongs to the Daley’s Scenic Park area, it finds little mention in histories of the neighborhood.  

“Early maps of the Daley’s Scenic Park region do not include La Vereda, probably because it was built post-1909,” Anthony Bruce, executive director, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, said in an interview. 

Daley’s Scenic Park was the first residential subdivision in the North Berkeley Hills. In the late 1890s, a group of concerned women formed the Hillside Club to encourage artistic homes complementing the natural beauty of Berkeley Hills. La Vereda path is on the eastern end of Virginia Street past La Loma. The tarred path and the houses flanking it have been constructed in accordance with the Hillside Club’s concept of “building with nature.”  

While the path is walkable, it is inconveniently steep, and a stairway beside the path, which connects it to La Vereda Road, is crumbling.  

“The right wall of the staircase at the top right column is pulling away from the upper column. Nobody seems to be taking the stewardship to set this right,” said Karen Kemp, editor and designer of the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association’s newsletter. 

La Vereda path was constructed based on a grided street structure, suitable for flat roads. The inclination and sharp turn of the path made it difficult for horse-drawn wagons to negotiate the bend. So the residents, members of the Daley’s Scenic Park and city engineers remodeled the path with retaining walls and stairways “that split the level of the roads and created much more gentle grades,” said Kemp.  

The neighborhood is a mixture of small cottages, modest homes, fraternity houses, and mansions. Describing Daley’s Scenic Park tract as the “town and gown area” of the Berkeley campus, Joan Seear, a resident of the area since 1957 said, “Many of the old houses having undergone gentrification, but the road and the railings require fixing. And with more people coming to live in this area, the parking situation is a zoo.”  

But with increased cost of living and budget crisis, “I don’t think it’s economically feasible for Berkeley to improve the road,” she added.