Strawberry Creek

Last updated
Strawberry Creek
Country United States
State California
Region Alameda County
City Berkeley
Physical characteristics
Source Berkeley Hills
 - location Oakland
 - coordinates 37°52′51″N122°13′54″W / 37.88083°N 122.23167°W / 37.88083; -122.23167 [1]
Mouth San Francisco Bay

Strawberry Creek is the principal watercourse running through the city of Berkeley, California. Two forks rise in the Berkeley Hills of the California Coast Ranges, and form a confluence at the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The creek then flows westward across the city to discharge into San Francisco Bay.

Watercourse channel that a flowing body of water follows

A watercourse is the channel that a flowing body of water follows. In the UK, some aspects of criminal law, such as The Rivers Act 1951, specify that a watercourse includes those rivers which are dry for part of the year.

Berkeley, California City in California, United States

Berkeley is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County, California. It is named after the 18th-century Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley. It borders the cities of Oakland and Emeryville to the south and the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington to the north. Its eastern border with Contra Costa County generally follows the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. The 2010 census recorded a population of 112,580.

Berkeley Hills

The Berkeley Hills are a range of the Pacific Coast Ranges that overlook the northeast side of the valley that encompasses San Francisco Bay. They were previously called the "Contra Costa Range/Hills", but with the establishment of Berkeley and the University of California, the current usage was applied by geographers and gazetteers.


The north fork has also been called "Blackberry Creek", [2] a name which has also been applied to another small creek in Berkeley, a portion of which has been daylighted through Thousand Oaks School Park. The canyon in which the north fork of Strawberry Creek runs is called "Blackberry Canyon".

Daylighting (streams) redirection of a stream into an above-ground channel

In urban design and urban planning, daylighting is the redirection of a stream into an above-ground channel. Typically, the rationale behind daylighting is to revert a stream of water to a more natural state, for the purposes of runoff reduction, habitat creation for species in need of it, or for aesthetic purposes. Daylighting is intended to revitalize the riparian environment for a stream which had been previously diverted into a culvert, pipe, or a drainage system. In the UK, the practice is also known as deculverting.

Strawberry Creek serves as a significant marker for the movement of the Hayward Fault. The creek is offset at the mouth of Strawberry Canyon, precisely at the locus of California Memorial Stadium. The filled-in middle forks located in the middle of the UC campus are thought to represent remnants of the former course of the south (main) fork of the creek, which have moved northward by fault action.

Hayward Fault Zone geological fault

The Hayward Fault Zone is a geologic fault zone capable of generating destructive earthquakes. This fault is about 74 mi (119 km) long, situated mainly along the western base of the hills on the east side of San Francisco Bay. It runs through densely populated areas, including Richmond, El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro, Castro Valley, Hayward, Union City, Fremont, and San Jose.

California Memorial Stadium stadium

California Memorial Stadium is an outdoor football stadium on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California. Commonly known as Memorial Stadium, it is the home field for the University of California Golden Bears of the Pac-12 Conference. The venue opened in 1923 and currently seats around 63,000 fans for football. The playing field runs NW-SE, at an elevation of 410 feet above sea level, and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 27, 2006. The stadium is located on the Hayward Fault, which passes directly under the playing field, nearly from goal post to goal post.


Strawberry Creek was the first surface water source for the University and parts of the city of Berkeley. A reservoir was constructed in the late 19th century in Strawberry Canyon, above the site of California Memorial Stadium. The reservoir was replaced in the early 20th century by the system of the East Bay Municipal Utility District whose source reservoir is located in the Sierra Nevada. Construction of the stadium removed a waterfall and culverted the creek in that area.

East Bay Municipal Utility District

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), colloquially referred to as "East Bay Mud", is a public utility district which provides water and sewage treatment services for an area of approximately 331 square miles (860 km2) in the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay. As of 2018, EBMUD provides drinking water for approximately 1.4 million people in portions of Alameda County and Contra Costa County in California, including the cities of Richmond, El Cerrito, Hercules, San Pablo, Pinole, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Danville, Oakland, Piedmont, Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, Alameda, San Leandro, neighboring unincorporated regions, and portions of cities such as Hayward and San Ramon. Sewage treatment services are provided for 685,000 people in an 88-square-mile area. EBMUD currently has an average annual growth rate of 0.8% and is projected to serve 1.6 million people by 2030. Headquartered in Oakland, EBMUD owns and maintains 2 water storage reservoirs on the Mokelumne River, 5 terminal reservoirs, 91 miles (146 km) of water transmission aqueducts, 4,100 miles (6,600 km) of water mains, 6 water treatment plants (WTPs), 29 miles (47 km) of wastewater interceptor sewer lines and a regional wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) rated at a maximum treatment capacity of 320 MGD.

Reservoir A storage space for fluids

A reservoir is a storage space for fluids. These fluids may be water, hydrocarbons or gas. A reservoir usually means an enlarged natural or artificial lake, storage pond or impoundment created using a dam or lock to store water. Reservoirs can be created by controlling a stream that drains an existing body of water. They can also be constructed in river valleys using a dam. Alternately, a reservoir can be built by excavating flat ground or constructing retaining walls and levees. Tank reservoirs store liquids or gases in storage tanks that may be elevated, at grade level, or buried. Tank reservoirs for water are also called cisterns.

Sierra Nevada (U.S.) mountain range

The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the Western United States, between the Central Valley of California and the Great Basin. The vast majority of the range lies in the state of California, although the Carson Range spur lies primarily in Nevada. The Sierra Nevada is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges that consists of an almost continuous sequence of such ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica.

In the latter half of the 19th century, a road bridge and a railroad trestle both spanned Strawberry Creek in the downtown section at what is now the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Allston Way. These were torn down and replaced by culverts in April–May 1893. In the process, a small grove of large and ancient oaks in the same locale was cut down.

Shattuck Avenue street in California, United States

Shattuck Avenue is a major city street running north-south through Berkeley, California and Oakland, California. At its southern end, the street branches from Telegraph Avenue in Oakland's Temescal district, then ends at Indian Rock Park in the Berkeley Hills to the north. Shattuck Avenue is the main street of Berkeley, forming the spine of that city's downtown, and the site of the Gourmet Ghetto in North Berkeley. The street was named for Francis Kittredge Shattuck, an early landowner and booster who later served as Mayor of Oakland. Shattuck was largely responsible for the original construction of the road as well as for a railroad built along its route.

Oak genus of plants

An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus of the beech family, Fagaceae. There are approximately 600 extant species of oaks. The common name "oak" also appears in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus, as well as in those of unrelated species such as Grevillea robusta and the Casuarinaceae (she-oaks). The genus Quercus is native to the Northern Hemisphere, and includes deciduous and evergreen species extending from cool temperate to tropical latitudes in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and North Africa. North America contains the largest number of oak species, with approximately 90 occurring in the United States, while Mexico has 160 species of which 109 are endemic. The second greatest center of oak diversity is China, which contains approximately 100 species.

The creek has been culverted over the years in several other locations, notably in public-works projects during the Great Depression of the 1930s, but has remained open through most of the UC campus, except in the central glade where the two small middle forks were long ago filled in. The south fork of Strawberry Creek has some riparian coast redwood groves on the university campus and is also suitable habitat for the California slender salamander and arboreal salamander. [3]

Culvert Structure that allows the passage of water or organisms under an obstruction

A culvert is a structure that allows water to flow under a road, railroad, trail, or similar obstruction from one side to the other side. Typically embedded so as to be surrounded by soil, a culvert may be made from a pipe, reinforced concrete or other material. In the United Kingdom, the word can also be used for a longer artificially buried watercourse.

California slender salamander species of amphibian

The California slender salamander is a lungless salamander that is found primarily in coastal mountain areas of Northern California, United States as well as in a limited part of the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada, California, in patches of the northern Central Valley of California, and in extreme southwestern Oregon. What makes this amphibian notable is that this species resides primarily in a limited range within California as one of a handful quasi-endemic amphibians in the state.

Arboreal salamander species of amphibian

The arboreal salamander is a species of climbing salamander. An insectivore, it is native to California and Baja California, where it is primarily associated with oak and sycamore woodlands, and thick chaparral.

Daylighting proposals

Efforts to re-open or daylight the creek throughout its natural course through Berkeley continue, and have so far resulted in the establishment of "Strawberry Creek Park" [4] in West Berkeley on the site of what used to be a small freight yard of the Santa Fe Railway. The creek is also open through several private yards in the blocks east of the park, starting just below (west of) Sacramento Street.

In 2010, momentum grew behind a plan to divert water from Strawberry Creek to the surface alongside Center Street. This proposal, backed largely by Ecocity Builders' Richard Register, would not restore the creek's original riparian habitat or path (which lies one block south along Allston Way). Instead, it would incorporate representational elements of the stream into a pedestrian plaza. [5]


At the mouth of Strawberry Creek where it enters San Francisco Bay, the local indigenous people built up a shellmound. There was also a small wood of native willows here which was used in the late 19th century as a park. Jacobs' Landing, established early during the California Gold Rush, was the nucleus around which the Ocean View settlement that predated Berkeley was founded. The creek now enters San Francisco Bay from a rectangular concrete culvert mouth, south of University Avenue and west of the I-80/580 freeway, behind Sea Breeze Market and Deli. This area is now part of Eastshore State Park, managed by East Bay Regional Park District. The tide flats at the creek mouth are important shorebird habitat, popular with bird watchers. Friends of Five Creeks, [6] a volunteer group, has worked since 2000 to control invasives and re-establish some native vegetation here.

Strawberry Creek, Berkeley, by Edwin Deakin Strawberry Creek, Berkeley.JPG
Strawberry Creek, Berkeley, by Edwin Deakin

See also

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  1. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Strawberry Creek
  2. "1923 Map of East Bay Creeks and Hayward Fault" (map). University of California, Berkeley.
  3. J.Torrey, A.Kratter et al., Environmental Impact Report for the Business Administration Building, University of California, Berkeley, Earth Metrics Incorporated, California State Clearinghouse, April, 1989
  4. "Strawberry Creek Park". City of Berkeley.
  5. "Bay Area Cities Rediscover the Creeks Under Their Streets". Streetsblog.