Park Day 001

I never thought I would mourn the passing of a gas station, but the Rockridge 76 — at the junction of Claremont and College, and on the border of Berkeley and Oakland — was an integral part of my introduction to America when I moved here five years ago.

Drive past there today and you’ll see the station has closed. It began dismantling on Saturday and its site will be integrated into Safeway’s projected overhaul (on which Berkeleyside will report separately).

I didn’t go to the 76 to get cheap gas — there are plenty of other stations with more competitive prices. I patronized the place for the friendly staff and its old-fashioned service mentality. The guys there knew cars and they knew what they were doing when they repaired them. They solved your problems without fuss and for a reasonable cost — certainly a much less shocking bill total than the dealer would rack up.

The station had been in the same location for decades — since the ’20s at least I think — and, perhaps naively, it made me think of a different, more “Americana” America, one that I would never experience.

When they used to put up the pumpkin cover on their revolving 76 globe (above), it all seemed very neighborly — and what could be more American than Halloween?

Strange to say, I’ll miss the place.

Update: My friend Elaine reminds me that the station was, we think, run by “a woman in a jumpsuit” — another great fact that made the place special. Now where’s Elaine to go to get her flat tires fixed?

Update 2: There’s a sign on the construction fence saying Rockridge 76 is moving. Once we have an update, we’ll post that.

[Photo: Tracey Taylor.]

Tracey Taylor

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...

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2 Comments

  1. In fact, the owner of Rockridge 76 owned the site and it was independent. He had a contract with 76 to buy his gas and to provide the marketing/signage. I’m pretty sure he held out for a good price from Safeway — after all, they had announced their expansion plans before they had secured his site.

    I want to find out where they are moving, since I’ll bring my business to them if they are within striking distance.

  2. Just imagine how hard it’ll be on the owner and the people who worked there. Most likely, it was a franchise and the landowners realized they could get more by leasing it to Safeway. Or it was the gas company wanting to hike the rent. Either way, the former owners probably lost all their investment in the business.

    My father went through a similar ordeal in the South Bay. It was very disruptive of their life and the people who worked there.