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

2023 Fall | W 9 am - 12 pm | COURSE #25323 | UNITS: 4

Margaretta Lovell

Students in this 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 platting 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-non-white neighborhood that includes homes in which railroad porter Leon Marsh, newspaper man Thomas C. Fleming, politician William Byron Rumford, 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.

This is a writing-intensive seminar, so the course is two-pronged: to engage students in developing the skills to write a wide variety of different kinds of research/analysis essays, and to work as a group toward Berkeley Landmark, CA Register, and National Register designations for both these neighborhoods.

Students practice real-world persuasive writing, acquiring life skills while contributing to our pool of knowledge and a public sense of value in the crafting and ‘reading’ of streetscapes and neighborhoods. Assigned readings are spare as there are weekly research/writing assignments.

This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical Area (C) and Chronological Period (III).