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The land and buildings that now make up the University Village have a rich and interesting history. Before early European settlement, this area (including Berkeley and Albany) was inhabited by the nomadic Coastonian tribes of Native Americans, including the Ohlone. Later, when the first Spanish settlers arrived, it became the extended domains of Spanish soldier Francisco Peralta.

In 1864, the California State Legislature chose Berkeley as the site for a new state university. As planning for the new university continued, a major change in population swept the Bay Area. The Gold Rush of 1849 brought many new settlers to the area and forced the Spanish to sell most of their lands. The land was split into farms and inhabited by families.

In 1853, Alameda County was created as urbanization in the East Bay continued. In 1906 the San Francisco earthquake caused another flow of new residents to the relatively undamaged East Bay where they created communities and built schools.

Soon thereafter, a new city was created, called Oceanview, which was incorporated with Berkeley. In 1909, Oceanview changed its name to Albany in honor of Mayor Frank Roberts, who was born in Albany, NY. By World War I there was rapid growth in Albany and the city qualified to have a charter, having its own governing system defined independent from state, provincial, regional, or national laws.

During World War II the University Village was built as temporary military housing for a new US Naval training base. At the time it was called Veterans’ Village. During the War, Veterans’ Village housed ship builders and also became a Federal Housing Project for all the workers that crowded into the Bay Area.

As the University grew, the need for a married student housing project became evident. To meet this need the University purchased the Veterans’ Village of Albany in 1956, then consisting of the former Codornices and the former Kula Gulf Housing Projects.

University Village was established in 1956 with a total of 420 units. Some of these units were torn down and the student housing project was completed in 1962 with 500 new units known as Residential Apartments.

In October of 1999 the first occupants moved into the new East Village apartments, including two- and three-bedroom family units. The new West Village apartments opened in July 2006 providing one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments for couples and families.

Village History – Street Names

The Village was constructed to house military and shipyard workers during WWII. Many residents took the train to the Richmond shipyards which were open 24 hours a day. This is also where the term “Rosie the Riveter” was coined, as most workers were females. Village streets are named after historical people, events or Native American people.

  • Kinkead
    • David Kinkead was the manager from 1946-53 when the Village (public housing) was desegregated.
  • Gooding
    • Greg Gooding was the first Albany resident to lose his life in WWII.
  • Red Oak
    • The historic World War II cargo ship built at the Richmond shipyards, owned and now maintained by the Richmond Museum of History.
  • Kula Gulf
    • WWII Navy battle July 5-6, 1943 located in the Solomon Islands.
  • Ohlone
    • Ohlone people, also known as the Costanoan, are a Native American people of the central and northern California coast. When Spanish explorers and missionaries arrived in the late 18th century, the Ohlone inhabited the area along the coast from San Francisco Bay through Monterey Bay to the lower Salinas Valley.
  • Liberty Ship
    • “Liberty ship” was the name given to the EC2 type ship designed for “Emergency” construction by the United States Maritime Commission in World War II. These ships could be built in 70 days. One, SS Robert E Peary, was built in 4 days. 
  • West
    • The farthest street west in the Village.
  • Jackson and Monroe
    • Albany named many streets nearby after US Presidents. These were named after Andrew Jackson and James Monroe.