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Berkeley’s UC Theatre through the years

UC Theatre 1917
The theater as it looked when it opened in 1917.

Plans to renovate and reopen the historic UC Theatre on University Avenue in Berkeley were announced last week.
Here is a look at the landmark movie house over the years:

UC Theatre 1917small
Another view from 1917.

UC Theatre 1924small
By 1924 the theater had added a marquee and vertical sign.

UC Theatre 1933small
The theater in 1933. It was the height of the Great Depression and a repossessed furniture store was next door.

UC Theatre 1942
The theater soldiered on during World War II.

UC Theatre 1968small
The UC Theatre in 1968, when its neighbor was the underground newspaper Berkeley Barb.

UC Theatre Interior RTF small
Interior of the UC Theatre in its heyday.

UCT Watercolor Rendering_Small
Watercolor rendering of the theater as it would look renovated as a performance venue.

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A look at the Albany Theater through the years, part 2: The great Batman promo of 1966

Albany Batman January 1966 a

Former Albany Theater manager Jack Tillmany offers this great reminiscence about the Batman promotion at the movie house in 1966 that was tied in not to the wildly popular TV show that debuted that year, but to the reissue of the black-and-white 1940s movie serial issued during the war:

In late 1965 Columbia Pictures had tremendous success with the re-release of their 1943, 15 episode serial, Batman and Robin, selling it as a “High Camp Folk Orgy” (love that 60s vernacular!). In San Francisco it played to turn away crowds, week after week, at the Presidio, and I convinced Foster to play it at the Albany. Since it was my idea, I had to promote it for all it was worth, and had two of my employees dress up as Batman and Robin, and drive around Berkeley in the Batmobile, which was actually a 1959 black Chevrolet convertible, which belonged to one of them, and couldn’t have been more perfect. They had a ball, and we sold out just about every performance night after night, for several weeks.

Unfortunately, Tillmany adds that he can’t remember who the two employees were who got to portray the Dynamic Duo.
The promotion and serial screening arrived in Albany in January 1966, the same month the TV show hit the air.

More photos of Batman and Robin’s appearance at the Albany Theater are below (click for larger views), along with video of the opening sequence of the 1943 serial.

Albany Batman January 1966 b

Albany Batman January 1966 c

Albany Batman January 1966 d

Albany Batman January 1966 e

Albany Batman January 1966 f

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Berkeley Yacht Club will mark 75 years with special postal cancellation on Sunday

berkyachtharbor

The U.S. Postal Service announced a special event on April 27 to celebrate the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay and the 75th Anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club:

Special Postal Cancellation Marks 75th Anniversary of Berkeley Yacht Club and 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay 2014

Distinct Global Ocean Stamp Plaques Presented

Berkeley, CA — In celebration of the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA) Opening Day on the Bay 2014 and the 75th Anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club, the U.S. Postal Service will provide a special cancellation with the Sea Surface Temperatures Forever Stamp that depicts Earth temperatures generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There will be two ceremonies at this event. The first ceremony is at the end of the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay at 5pm. The second ceremony opens the evening celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club at 6pm.

When: Sunday April 27, 2014

4-8pm Sale of Stamp and Free ‘Building Bridges Special Postal Cancellation’

5pm Ceremony Presenting Stamp Plaque to Pacific Inter-Yacht Club Association
6pm Ceremony Presenting Stamp Plaque to Berkeley Yacht Club

Where: The Berkeley Yacht Club, 1 Seawall Drive, Berkeley, CA www.berkeleyyc.org

This Building Bridges pictorial cancellation is a line drawing created especially for this event by Building Bridges Art Director Karen Lile and artist Aneka Bean, inspired by a photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge with sail boats, power boats, and a tug boat in parade for PICYA Opening Day on the Bay. This special cancellation is part of the Building Bridges Series which began in 1996.

The Global: Sea Surface Temperatures Forever Stamp went on sale April 22, 2014 for customers to mail a one-ounce First-Class letter overseas. Customers may buy this stamp and have it cancelled by the Building Bridges Special Postal Cancellation, only from 4pm-8pm at the Berkeley Yacht Club. This $1.15 stamp is also available at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), at Post Offices nationwide or visit ebay.com/stamps to shop from a wide variety of postage stamps and collectibles.

The 1.27 inch diameter stamp depicts a visual representation of the planet’s sea surface temperatures. It shows the Earth with North America at the center and parts of South America, Asia and Europe just visible on the edges, surrounded by vivid bands of color throughout the oceans.

The image on the stamp is one frame in a 1,460-frame animation created from a computer model of Earth’s climate by NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. The animation has been used by Science On a Sphere, a room-sized educational display that projects a variety of images and views onto a sphere six feet in diameter. The full animation shows how the surface temperatures of the oceans vary seasonally and change over time, and how surface ocean currents transport heat and water around the globe.

The image also combines the depiction of sea-surface temperatures with visible vegetation on land masses, an element derived from a satellite composite created by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Postal Service Art Director William Gicker designed the stamp.

As part of the postal cancellation and Global Ocean Stamp celebrations, there will be entertainment and refreshments.

More information on Building Bridges may be found on www.buildingbridgesofpeace.com

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Caltrans reschedules paving work at MacArthur Maze

Rain this week prompted Caltrans to reschedule the start of its paving project at the MacArthur Maze to April 29. The agency issued the following announcement today:

Caltrans Polyester Overlay at Maze Structure Delayed Until April 29th Due to Weather

ALAMEDA COUNTY – On April 29th, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will initiate a paving project in the I-580/I-80 maze structure. Construction crews will lay down a fresh coat of durable, long-lasting polyester concrete.

The work schedule will be Tuesday night through Sunday morning every week for the course of the project. During the closure the McArthur on-ramp will be closed and traffic detoured to Powell Street. The first closure will be westbound I-580 to eastbound I-80 connector (full closure). Changeable Message Signs and detour routes will be clearly visible.

Closure Times

Tuesday – Thursday

· 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M

Friday – Saturday

· 11:59 P.M – 7:00 A.M

Detour Routes

There are currently two detour maps available on the Caltrans District 4 website. Please visit the website to view Detour Map 1 and Detour Map 2

· Westbound I-580 traffic will be detoured on I-80 westbound to the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge Toll Plaza parking lot where commuters will be able to return to I-80 eastbound.

· The McArthur on-ramp to I-80 eastbound will be closed and traffic detoured to Powell Street on-ramp to I-80 eastbound.

Motorists should expect delays in the area and are advised to use alternate routes during the closure period. Drivers are advised to remember that traffic fines are doubled in construction zones.

Please “Slow For The Cone Zone.” For the most up to date traffic information, visit our webpage or follow us on Twitter.

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El Cerrito announces upcoming road pavement work

ec streetwork

El Cerrito is planning to do pavement resurfacing work at a number of locations around town (see the map above) this week and next and advises that minor traffic delays could result.

The announcement from the city:

Roadwork Underway on various City Streets; Expect Temporary Traffic Impacts April 23, 24, 30 & May 1

El Cerrito, CA: Roadwork to improve a number of local streets in El Cerrito is underway. Weather-permitting, the pavement work planned for Wednesday and Thursday, April 23 and 24 will cause minor traffic delays (up to 5 minutes) for local traffic. The pavement work planned for Wednesday and Thursday, April 30 and May 1 will require temporary road or lane closures lasting 3-4 hours resulting in temporary detours and brief delays (up to 5 minutes) to local traffic.

This project is funded by the City’s Measure A Street Improvement Fund, (the El Cerrito Pothole Repair, Local Street Improvement and Maintenance Measure passed by voters in February 2008) and a $354,000 State-Local Partnership Program (SLPP) grant.

The street segments included in this project have moderately distressed pavement and will be resurfaced by applying an Asphalt Rubber Cape Seal treatment that is composed of a two-layer system of asphalt rubber chip seal with a slurry seal surfacing. Work has been underway for the last several weeks mainly constructing curb ramps at various locations associated with this project.

The streets included in this Project are:

· Bay Tree Lane

· Carquinez Avenue – Barrett to Lagunitas

· Cutting Blvd – Arlington to Junction

· Edwards Avenue – Barrett to Pointsett

· Jordan Avenue – Nason to Alta Punta

· Julian Drive

· Julian Court

· Knott Avenue – San Pablo to Key

· Lawrence Court

· Potrero Avenue – Arlington to Douglas

· Regency Court

· Scott Street

· Tamalpais Court

· Yuba Street – North City Limits to Zara

· Waldo Avenue – Pomona to Ashbury

More information, including a map of the project is on the City’s website at: http://ca-elcerrito.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=516

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A look at the Albany Theater through the years, part 1

Albany theater 1920s
This photo of Solano Avenue from the late 1920s shows the original Albany Theater, a small one-story building at the left that dates from 1914 and hosted vaudeville. Behind it is the two-story building that was built as an Italian organization meeting hall. The hall would be renovated and reopened in 1935 as the Albany Cinema. In its original form, the meeting hall had two storefronts at street level and a ballroom and meeting rooms on the second floor. Note the Southern Pacific street car tracks (and overhead wires) on Solano and the Key System tracks on San Pablo Avenue in the foreground.

(Click on the pictures for a larger view.)

The movie house on Solano Avenue known over the years as the Albany Theater (or Theatre), Albany Cinema, and now the Albany Twin, is a survivor in an era when many neighborhood film emporiums have closed. Victims include The Oaks at the Berkeley end of Solano, shuttered for several years.
But the Albany Theater was not the original venue with that name, nor was it originally a theater.
It succeeded a one-story predecessor next door on Solano that was built in 1914 and operated as a vaudeville venue.
The second Albany Theater was originally a two-story meeting hall built in 1926 by an Italian-American organization. It had two storefronts on the ground floor and meeting space and a dance floor above.
The building was purchased in 1934 by a successful theater operator who hired Berkeley architect William Garren to redesign the building to show movies. Plans were announced in November 1934 and the building’s interior was gutted and turned into a movie house that opened in 1935.
Garren took control of the theater when the man who hired him died and the well-known architect would go on to manage it for the next 30 years, becoming a popular figure in town, becoming a leader of the business community and serving on Albany commissions.
One longtime resident recalled that homebuilder C.M. MacGregor would annually treat the local kids to a free matinee and ice cream at the theater and would dance down the center aisle wearing a tam o’shanter and singing a little ditty.

Garren had a good run as the unplanned cinema operator, but finally bowed out in 1965. He did remain active in civic affairs for some years to come.
Jack Tillmany, who managed the Albany Theater after Garren stepped down and provided many of the photos and clippings we will post here. He offered the following reminiscences:

In the early 1960s, I managed the Piedmont Cinema in Oakland for Martin Foster, who also operated the Parkway Cinema on Park Blvd. Both of them were tremendously successful, thanks mostly to a well selected format of popular titles, such as the James Bond and Pink Panther series at the Piedmont, and more international fare at the Parkway, seasoned with hotties like Dr. Strangelove and Romeo and Juliet. It was inevitable that Foster would expand and the Berkeley market beckoned. In October 1965 he took over the Albany from William Garren and I was promoted to general manager for the three enterprises. Garren had operated Albany as a mom and pop venue for the local family trade, with Saturday afternoon matinees for the kids, etc., all of which had, by that time, had become part of a bygone era. Foster wanted to appeal to the Berkeley crowd, with more of an off beat, and European flavor, and the changeover was an immediate success, bringing new life into a dying operation, and a new Berkeley audience who had probably never before ventured that far West on Solano Ave.

The earliest (circa 1941) and only photo I’ve ever seen of Albany, is before its 1950 remodeling, when SP trains still ran on Solano Avenue.You can’t see much of the theatre, except its original vertical, and the “Any Seat Any Time 30 cents” sign on the West wall, but that sort of says it all.

Albany circa 1941
The Albany Theatre (“30 cents cents any seat, any time”) about 1941 with a streetcar of the Southern Pacific line in the foreground. At the left is the S.P. (Southern Pacific) Store, managed by Max Etingoff and now Max’s Liquors. Also note there is a street level billboard on Solano at the left of the streetcar.

Tillmany continues:

I really don’t think Garren every quite understood the 1960s or what was happening to his beloved theatre, but it had suddenly become part of the era and Foster was smiling all the way to the bank. I remember one evening, with a sell out crowd inside and a line around the corner and up the block waiting for the next show, and Garren stopped by and just looked around in amazement! Here it is in June 1967, with another tremendous success that Foster had milked dry at the Parkway and then moved up to the Albany for an even longer, continued run, Georgy Girl.

Albany June 1967
The Albany Cinema as it looked in June of 1967. In addition to its original conversion, the building by this time had undergone three remodeling projects inside or outside.

garren1934
Work to convert the meeting hall to a movie house began late in 1934 and it opened in 1935. The interior was gutted and the second floor removed to create an auditorium and the exterior was remodeled and a marquee added. Note that plans included an airplane beacon and a nursery with cribs and toys.

garrenremodel1945
Plans were filed in 1945 to remodel the theater’s interior.

Albany Newspaper 02 6 Jan 1965
Newspaper coverage of an exterior remodeling in 1950.

COMING UP NEXT: BATMAN COMES TO THE ALBANY THEATER

albanytheater2014a
The Albany Twin as it looks today.

albanytheater2014b

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Caltrans overnight paving work at maze will cause closures, detours

Caltrans issued the following news release today about paving work planned at the MacArthur Maze that starts April 24:

Caltrans Plans Polyester Overlay at Maze Structure Beginning April 24 with Full Freeway Connector Closure

ALAMEDA COUNTY – On April 24, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will initiate a paving project in the I-580/I-80 maze structure. Construction crews will lay down a fresh coat of durable, long-lasting polyester concrete.

The work schedule will be Tuesday night through Sunday morning every week for the course of the project. During the closure the MacArthur on-ramp will be closed and traffic detoured to Powell Street. The first closure will be westbound I-580 to eastbound I-80 connector (full closure). Changeable Message Signs and detour routes will be clearly visible.

Closure Times

Tuesday – Thursday

· 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M

Friday – Saturday

· 11:59 P.M – 7:00 A.M

Detour Routes

· Westbound I-580 traffic will be detoured on I-80 westbound to the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge Toll Plaza parking lot where commuters will be able to return to I-80 eastbound.

· The MacArthur on-ramp to I-80 eastbound will be closed and traffic detoured to Powell Street on-ramp to I-80 eastbound.

Motorists should expect delays in the area and are advised to use alternate routes during the closure period. Drivers are advised to remember that traffic fines are doubled in construction zones.

Please “Slow For The Cone Zone.” For real-time traffic, click-on Caltrans Quick Maps or follow us on Twitter.

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Richmond: Parks group seeks protection for Field Station shoreline

Richmond’s City Council agenda on Tuesday includes discussion of the electronic billboard at Pacific East Mall next to Interstate 80, which could provide interesting discussion over its legality, which has been questioned by Councilman Tom Butt.
The group Citizens for East Shore Parks, meanwhile, is more interested in the item after the billboard, which is titled “Resolution to Protect the Coastal Prairie at the Richmond Field Station,” submitted by Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles.
CESP issued the following email call to it members:

Please come to the City Council and support a resolution directing staff to remove any consideration in the South Richmond Plan for vehicle traffic through the coastal prairie at the Richmond Field Station- and to prepare alternatives for the Plan that only show vehicle being routed around the coastal prairie.

Why is it important to protect the coastal prairie?
Today, less than one percent of California’s original native grassland ecosystems remain intact! The Richmond Field Station is recognized by the California Native Plant Society for priority protection because it contains the last undisturbed native coastal prairie grassland adjacent to the San Francisco Bay Shoreline. This native grassland is an intact remnant stand that functions as a reference assemblage – invaluable for the study of how this threatened ecosystem functions and as an example of its community type for restoration ecologists. A great goal for the scientists at UC Berkeley.

Click here to view the resolution.

The City of Richmond will post the Council agenda online. Check the website here: http://ci.richmond.ca.us/index.aspx?nid=151.

It is item # I-2– which won’t be until 7:15 pm or later. But, you must sign in to speak prior to the item being called.

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El Cerrito/Richmond then and now: A former drug store building enters the natural food age

Amerio Drugs in its neon sign glory days had an ice cream fountain counter and parking in the back, shared with neighbor El Nido Market.

The neon sign and soda fountain of Amerio Drugs on San Pablo Avenue are long gone, but the building (actually located on the Richmond side of the city limits) is still there.
Amerio succumbed to the fate of most independent pharmacies, eventually being replaced by a paint store and then sitting vacant for a number of years.
After an extensive remodeling it reopened earlier this year as The Annex, the prepared store of the El Cerrito Natural Grocery Company, which established a thriving location next door at the former El Nido Market.
The neon sign on the front of the former drug store has been replaced by a wood facade, with solar panels installed on the roof.

The El Cerrito Natural Grocery Company Annex has opened in the Amerio Drugs building, offering a salad bar instead of ice cream sodas.

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Richmond Museum of History exhibit features home front-themed quilts, including three related to Japanese-American internment

Fourth grade students at Posten Relocation Camp in Arizona stitched their names onto panels they made while imprisoned during World War II.

Richmond Museum of History Director Melinda McCrary describes the quilt made by fourth grade Japanese-American students of teacher Masako Hirata in the Posten War Relocation Camp in Arizona, part of the “Quilts of the Home Front” exhibit at the museum through June 6.
The 70-plus-year-old quilt is one of three on display in the exhibit related to the Japanese-American internment during World War II.

Piecing Memories: Recollections of Internment


“Piecing Memories: Recollections of Internment,” a work by quilters of the Berkeley-based Japanese American Services of the East Bay, has panels of images of life in the camps, including guard towers, prisoners in uniforms and people huddling to shelter themselves from the harsh and dusty desert winds.

Threads of Remembrance


Threads of Remembrance done in three sections, with a middle panel showing a guard tower stitched into the background behind barracks denoting each of the camps.

The exhibit is on display through June 6 and there is a special admission charge of $3 along with the regular museum admission of $2. Museum hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more details visit www.richmondmuseumofhistory.org or call 510-235-7387.
See video of the fourth-graders’s quilt and a description of it by museum director Melinda McCrary on the West County blog at www.ibabuzz.com/westcounty/.