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History of Berkeley



The site of today's City of Berkeley was the territory of the Chochenyo/Huchiun band of the Ohlone people when the first Europeans arrived. Evidence of their existence in the area include pits in rock formations, which they used to grind acorns, and a shellmound, now mostly leveled and covered up, along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay at the mouth of Strawberry Creek. Other artifacts were discovered in the 1950s in the downtown area during remodeling of a commercial building, near the upper course of the creek.

The first people of European descent (most of whom were born in America, and many of whom were of mixed ancestry) arrived with the De Anza Expedition in 1776. Today, this is noted by signage on Interstate 80, which runs along the San Francisco Bay shoreline of Berkeley. The De Anza Expedition led to establishment of the Spanish Presidio of San Francisco at the entrance to San Francisco Bay (the Golden Gate), which is due west of Berkeley. Luís Peralta was among the soldiers at the Presidio. For his services to the King of Spain, he was granted a vast stretch of land on the east shore of San Francisco Bay (the contra costa, "opposite shore") for a ranch, including that portion that now comprises the City of Berkeley.

Luís Peralta named his holding "Rancho San Antonio." The primary activity of the ranch was raising cattle for meat and hides, but hunting and farming were also pursued. Eventually, Peralta gave portions of the ranch to each of his four sons. What is now Berkeley lies mostly in the portion that went to Peralta's son Domingo, with a little in the portion that went to another son, Vicente. No artifact survives of the ranches of Domingo or Vicente, although their names have been preserved in the naming of Berkeley streets (Vicente, Domingo, and Peralta). However, legal title to all land in the City of Berkeley remains based on the original Peralta land grant.

The Peraltas' Rancho San Antonio continued after Alta California
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