Berkeley South Side Merchants Fight for Their Lives

by Steed Dropout
June 18, 2013
Berkeley, Ca.


Customer flight can be a terrible thing.

Like girlfriend flight or money flight, which rimes with blight, which is what Teley merchants are fighting.

A lot has gone wrong for this hardy band of avenue loyalists.

Teley/Haste was once the very soul of Berkeley, possibly its real center, like Sixth and Monroe in my boyhood hometown.

Both locations — Teley and Sixth/Monroe — are blights.

Customer flight on Telegraph. This block is usually filled with shoppers and street vendor. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Telegraph Avenue used to be a famous avenue, which first came to attention — the whole world was watching — as the avenue erupted in violence over People’s Park in 1969.

Numerous subsequent avenue riots have kept Berkeley’s radical reputation alive. But there has not been a major riot on the avenue in years.

Anarchist close Teley two years ago. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Closing one block after midnight for a mellow anarchist block-party a few years ago is hardly a riot.

Protesters have marched on the avenue during Occupy and to protest the police but they were headed somewhere else; cops have learned to deal with these events so that they were peaceful

Just passing through. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Telegraph/Haste first declined after the 1984 Berkeley Inn fire, which left big vacant lot on prime real-estate. The once-thriving location of the last (we didn’t know it) gathering of beats, hippies, weirdos at the Berkeley Inn.

That lot is vacant as I write, but plans could get underway next year for a new apartment complex.

Cody’s books an internationally famous old bookstore also Teley/Haste self-destructed in 2006 after presenting the likes of Norman Mailor and Bill Clinton.

Cody's books, Telegraph/Haste closed 2006, still vacant. Torn-down Sequoia Apts. through window. Photo by Ted Friedman.

The Sequoia fire last year at Teley/Haste was the last blow. As one Berkeley reporter wrote — the fire was a death knell to an already hobbled neighborhood. That was this Berkeley Reporter.

Take a little piece of our hearts, I wrote last year after death knell to Telegraph/Haste. Photo by Ted Friedman.

The Sequoia fire last year was a blow or one of those Rocky Balboa moments when he takes a meat-grinding beating and comes back

The fire might have been a wake up call.

Sequoia as rubble. Building owner, left. Photo by Ted Friedman.

What do you do when you’re down and out and you’re not Rocky? You throw a show. Just like in a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland film.


Members of the business improvement district, partnering with the mayor who pitched in with personal appearances and money began meeting with the mayor in his office on Tuesdays. By the third week of meetings they had come up with a series of wacky schemes for attracting crowds .

Part One of what could be a three piece series. Stay tuned to see how the fight progresses or fails.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.