Plaque

Berkeley City Hall

DOWNTOWN

2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way map it

CITY OF BERKELEY LANDMARK

designated in 1975

BERKELEY CITY HALL

Bakewell and Brown, Architects, 1908
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

This was Berkeley’s City Hall from 1909 to 1977. It sits on the site of the Town Hall that burned in 1904. It remains a source of civic pride and a symbol of Berkeley. Now commonly known as “Old City Hall,” it is the keystone of Berkeley’s Civic Center where public buildings are grouped around a central park. John Bakewell and Arthur Brown, Jr., the building’s architects—both of whom were graduates from the University of California—designed other city halls as well, including San Francisco’s. In 1972 the American painter, Romare Bearden, was commissioned to do a large mural for the City Council Chamber. One image from it was the inspiration for a City logo.

At the June 27, 1908 cornerstone-laying ceremony, University President Benjamin Ide Wheeler proclaimed, “The Capitol at Washington cannot stand unless our town-houses have good cornerstones—firm-set and true.” Declaring that the new City Hall would be “our town-house,” Wheeler spoke of his hope “that we will respect the rights of others; that we will all be citizens and stay amateurs; that we will live together in mutual helpfulness; that we will try to make Berkeley the best town there is.”

Berkeley Historical Plaque Project
1998


  • City Hall (1971), photo Arthur Gough, BAHA Archives.

  • City Hall (2010), photo R. Kehlmann.

  • City Hall with City staff, BAHA Archives.

  • Scale Drawing, bay of front facade (ca.1907), BAHA Archives.

  • City Hall stairway to Council Chamber, Library of Congress.

  • City Manager Report 1928-29, BAHA Archives.

  • City Hall’s cupola saved, Berkeley Gazette (1989), BAHA Archives.

More information:
Berkeley Daily Planet
BAHA

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society