I was perusing the Internet when I came across this 1962 photo montage of a Bart train traveling under Shattuck Avenue. This drawing was probably done for the November 1962 election when voters in Alameda, San Francisco and Contra Costa Counties were asked to approve the sale of $792 million in bonds to build a 71.5 mile rapid transit system. The transbay tube cost another $133 million, bringing the total cost of the BART system close to $1 billion.

“It would be the largest single public works project ever undertaken in the U.S. by the local citizenry,” according to a history on BART’s website.

What strikes me about this photo is the vibrancy of Shattuck Avenue. It has everything today’s politicians and planners want for downtown: there are stores like JC Penny’s, Leed’s Department Store, Earl’s Shoes, and Woolworth’s catering to the needs of residents; ample parking (if you look closely you can see some vacant parking spaces); and a green buffer filled with plants and trees.

So has Berkeley progressed or regressed?

For more pictures melding BART and scenes of the Bay Area in the 1960s, look on Eric Fisher’s Flickr page.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...