“The block is alive, hustlers running their games, dogs darting through traffic, junkies yearning to score...and the children dancing by, bantering, teasing, mimicking, testing, testing.”
— Thomas Farber
[This is a skeletal version of a fuller, forthcoming project on the history of Telegraph Avenue in the ’60s and ’70s. — Ed.]
Starting in the mid-1960s, “Telegraph Avenue”—and here observers generally meant the two-block segment between Channing Way and Dwight Way, where the sidewalks teemed with street vendors, musicians, politicos, runaways, and the down-and-out—became shorthand for the cultural whirlwind of Berkeley. For conservatives, Telegraph Ave was an abomination, a stage set for “the greatest freak show on earth.” For more sympathetic observers, it offered a “rag theater” of great poignancy—a refuge that, while inspired by idealism, often made for hard living in practice.