Little-known facts about Berkeley’s beloved Strawberry Creek

Karin Goh/File

Whether you’re a hardcore nature-lover or can’t remember the last time you saw sunlight, chances are you’ve noticed the creek running through campus at some point in your time here. We at the Clog recently took a deeper look into the history of Strawberry Creek to learn more about this landmark. So if you’re looking to impress your friends with random facts about UC Berkeley or simply want to learn more about the campus’s history, read on!

The Huchiun Ohlone tribe originally inhabited the area around Strawberry Creek 

The history of Strawberry Creek runs deep, with ties to the Huchiun Ohlone tribe. This indigenous tribe lived near the creek and depended on it as a resource for food and water. The Huchiun Ohlone had a deep respect for the creek and only took what they needed from it, as they feared the creek would die if its resources were depleted.

UC Berkeley’s first classes were held in Oakland until the campus was constructed around the creek

Although UC Berkeley was founded in 1868, it actually wasn’t until 1873 that students started attending classes in the city of Berkeley. The first Cal students attended classes in Oakland and the Berkeley campus was later constructed around the crucial, year-round water resource of Strawberry Creek.

Strawberry Creek was heavily polluted for a long time

At one point in time, Strawberry Creek was used for sewage disposal. The surrounding ecosystem was left in bad shape for more than a century from lingering damage by Spanish colonizers and irrigation initiatives. This resulted in a strong stench that would radiate from the water.

Robert Charbonneau proposed a management plan to UC Berkeley’s Office of Environment, Health and Safety in 1987 to save the creek

Since this plan was implemented, the water quality of the creek has improved rapidly and volunteers have mostly cleared out traces of human pollution from years past. Thanks to these efforts we’re able to enjoy the beauty of the healthy creek amid a thicket of trees.

Hopefully, this additional information will help you see things a little differently on your walk to class. We encourage you to try to find some time to sit by the creek and appreciate this unique and historic local landmark. Just like the rest of us at UC Berkeley, the creek’s been through a lot.

Contact Pariswi Tewari at [email protected].