For homebuyers seeking quintessential small town qualities with the vitality of a major city, Albany has it all. This community-oriented city boasts low crime rates, manicured homes, friendly neighbors, grassy parks and playgrounds, a charming main street, a host of services, programs and wholesome events for children, families and the elderly, and excellent schools.
Albany schools consistently place in the 90th percentiles and year after year, the school district proudly boasts the continued achievement of producing some of the highest academic test scores throughout the state and Bay Area. Many attribute this to the large number of children here who are offspring of the many UC Berkeley grad students who reside in Albany.
Albany is made up primarily of 2- to 3-bedroom single-family homes ranging from charming California and Craftsmen bungalows, to Mediterranean style residences, to many McGreggor's. The homes here go for top dollar due to the excellent schools. A haven for people watching, Albany's Solano Avenue is a pedestrian-oriented street dotted with gourmet and ethnic grocers, florists, and charming boutiques, antique shops, cafes and inexpensive ethnic restaurants. Residents from all over the Bay Area have recently discovered this quaint street and it's now a popular destination for tourists as well as locals. The recently renovated El Cerrito Plaza features many chains including a Barnes & Noble, Trader Joe's, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Long's Drugs, and Albertson's.
Situated between North Berkeley, El Cerrito and Richmond, Albany is close to major freeways as well as BART and other public transportation. Oakland is about 15 minutes away and San Francisco can be as close as 20 minutes in light traffic.
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Boasting some of the most dramatic views in the entire area, many of the homes in Albany Hill are at the height of desirability. To the west, homeowners enjoy straight-on views of the majestic Golden Gate Bridge and sparkling San Francisco Bay. Those on the west side gaze out over the picturesque Berkeley Hills. It's hard to believe this area was once simply a giant dirt mound from a 1920s dynamite factory.
Located on the western edge of Albany, homeowners here are in close proximity to all this city has to offer including it's many retail shops, restaurants, BART, and of course its stellar school system.
Residents enjoy going down the hill to the popular El Cerrito farmer's market for locally grown fruit and vegetables, arts and crafts, and live music. The market is held twice a week at the Plaza, which recently underwent a complete renovation and now includes an Albertson's, Barnes and Noble, and Starbucks Coffee.
On the eastern end of Albany, is the highly sought after neighborhood of Memorial Park, a hub of recreational activities. Neighborhood kids take swimming classes, play tennis, and participate in a variety of team sports including soccer and Little League baseball. With parents and siblings cheering from the sidelines, there's a strong sense of community here. New moms especially like the toddler parks where their young charges can play with others their age.
The homes of Memorial Park are small 2–3 bedroom houses built in the 1920s through the 1940s and include Craftsmen bungalows, Spanish and English style residences. Many are McGregor homes, characterized by large, distinctive, living room windows, interesting fireplaces, and split-level designs with bedrooms over the garage.
Local parent groups are actively involved in their children's education, ensuring that it meets the high standards of academic rigor and attention to diversity expected by Albany's multicultural and highly educated community. Residents are avid library users, checking out an average of ten items per person in 1995—a figure substantially higher than other cities. In 1994, the community voted overwhelmingly for a special assessment to pay for longer library hours.