Albany is an intimate town of approx. 17,000, adjacent to Berkeley, El Cerrito, Kensington and the San Francisco Bay to the west. Less than 2 square miles, it has a diverse population and a reputation for its quality schools.
Many families choose to live in Albany because of its schools’ high ranking and the low crime rate. With recently completed new structures in the middle and high schools, the city continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to their educational system.
The architecture that typifies the area is predominantly small Mediterranean and Craftsman houses, reflecting the city’s working class roots. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, a large developer named Charles Manning MacGregor built many charming cottage-style homes, with distinctive details, mostly in Albany. Many of these houses are split-level, stucco with matchstick oak floors and inviting fireplaces.
Solano the Heart of the City
Solano Avenue, the main commercial street, is great for walking, dining and shopping. It is lined with numerous ethnic, gourmet and American cuisine restaurants, coffeehouses, small businesses and clothing and antique shops, all which reflect the diversity of the surrounding community.
An annual street fair, the “Solano Stroll”, draws over $100,000 people. During the festival, more than a mile of Solano Avenue is closed off to traffic as shops, restaurants and numerous community organizations, ranging from the Sierra Club to BAHA (Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association) all celebrate with food, music and dance.
There are several movie theaters on Solano Avenue, one of which, the Albany Twin near San Pablo Avenue, shows a wide range of films, many independent and documentaries.
Among Albany’s many recreational facilities are the Albany Bowl (a bowling alley), Golden Gate Fields (a horse racing track overlooking the Bay), a new library and a buzzing Community Center. The beautiful Albany Waterfront has many great places to go biking or hiking with or without your dog.