Berkeley has a reputation for eclectic creativity, often reflected in brightly painted murals, BART station drum circles, and colorful protests. Some of my favorite random examples of Berkeley character are the “concrete street blocker thingies” (for lack of a better term — does anyone actually know their technical name?) at the intersection of Ashby and Fulton. [Update: reader Thomas Lord helpfully informs us they are called bollards.] Each of the four bollards has a unique mosaic, and even serves as a planter for flowers or rosemary.

They seem to be something of a mystery, as I have Googled like crazy, and even asked the locals, but cannot find any information about them (neighbors generally seemed puzzled that I was even asking about their street).

A few years ago, I was driving down Ashby and saw a group of people working on them (though I’m not sure if they were creating or maintaining), and I’m kicking myself now for not pulling over and asking right then and there.

I turn to you, Berkeleyside readers. Does anyone out there know who made these fantastic art pieces? Are they maintained by the artist(s), or by some anonymous neighbor? Is there a volunteer group who goes around beautifying the neighborhood?  I have noticed other bollards being used as planters, and I assume the wildflowers didn’t just magically spring up out of the cement… but who knows?

Know about these or any other “mystery” neighborhood artworks? Let us know in the comments.

Update, 12.03: Within 30 minutes of Kim posting this, we have our answer. Reader Thomas Lord writes in the Comments:

Oh, gosh. I was looking to see if I could figure out who manufactures those particular bollards and instead I stumbled across the answer to the art mystery:

“Berkeley youth, working with YAYA California and the City, decorated these traffic-calming bollards with mosaic. The Neighborhood Services team coordinates these cleanups to help eradicate blight, beautify public areas, and create opportunities for young people to invest in their neighborhoods.”

Update 17.43: Reader Laura Menard has even more details on the bollards. Read all in the Comments.

This is the fourth in a series of Scouting Berkeley posts by Kim Weisberg, who lives in Berkeley. See previous posts on Biking 101,  Ohmega Salvage and Kitchen On Fire.

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