Anyone who drives around North Berkeley is bound to be familiar with the Marin Circle. No ordinary roundabout, it is the home of the Fountain. Built in 1911, it was originally designed as the entrance to what might have been the State Capitol building. But Sacramento, not Berkeley, became the state’s capital, so the fountain supported by four bears is now just a decoration for the approximately 30,000 cars that round it every day, according to Berkeleyside.
The Fountain has been the scene of many a harmless prank, including a particular treasure hunt planned by my daughter for her friends, who had to get in the fountain in order to retrieve a clue. (Which, of course, means that someone had to place the clue there, and my daughter was just a tad short of reaching the intended spot. So guess who waded into the fountain to do that…)
On the south side of the circle is a plaque that marks the entrance to the Fountain Walk, which leads from the Circle down to the intersection of Sutter Street and Del Norte. This is kitty-corner to the entrance to Path #2, the Terrace Walk.
On the north side of the circle is an oddly long triangular patch of grass that is home to a few benches and the Millennium Oak, according to the nearby plaque.
If you stand on the side of the street where there isn’t actually any sidewalk, you can peek at the traffic below entering the tunnel from the top of Solano Avenue. (But be careful of oncoming traffic as you peer over the fence.) By the way, I’ve lived in the Bay Area over 20 years and never knew that the official name of this tunnel was Northbrae. I always called it the Solano Tunnel. But now you know.