Streetcars and giant urns in North Berkeley

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A car, a streetcar and a giant urn, right, co-exist on Arlington Avenue at Thousand Oaks in Berkeley in 1947.

It may be hard to believe now, but the neighborhoods around Arlington Avenue in Berkeley once had electric streetcar service — and giant decorative urns.

The streetcar service, which ran to Kensington, ended in 1948 as the Key System phased in buses on its former rail lines.

The urns, a signature design element in the Thousand Oaks area, didn’t fare too well either over the years. Only one of some 20 originals is left, although there are some duplicates now in place. None are on Arlington, however. The history of the urns is recounted on a marker, pictured below, at Great Stoneface Park in Berkeley.

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Key System car at “Kensington Park” in 1946.

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A Key System car heading north in the southbound driving lane on Arlington at San Antonio in 1946.
The street car ran on a single track that went both directions, so drivers had to be aware.

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Streetcar, cars and urn on Arlington in 1946.

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The last of the original urns. Quite a responsibility for one’s front yard.

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Descriptive marker about the Thousand Oaks urns at Great Stoneface Park.

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The “Great Stoneface” warily eyes a duplicate urn at its namesake park.




Chris Treadway

  • Don Teeter

    Lovely pictures! I grew up in North Berkeley with a Key System station in my street, but they tore it down when I was ten.