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El Cerrito (formerly, Rust and County Line) is a city in Contra Costa Countymarker, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 23,171 at the time of the 2000 census. The city is at an elevation of 69 feet (21 m).


El Cerrito was founded by refugees from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. They settled in what was then Don Víctor Castro's Rancho San Pablomarker, and adjacent to the ranch owned by the family of Luís María Peralta, the Rancho San Antoniomarker. The settlers called their refugee camp Rust, which later became a village. In 1917 it was eventually incorporated with 1,500 residents. The village's residents did not care for the name and later changed it to El Cerrito.

A post office opened at Rust in 1909; the name was changed to El Cerrito in 1916. Rust was named after William R. Rust, its first postmaster.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.7 square miles (9.5 km²), all of it land.

El Cerrito is bordered by Albanymarker and Kensingtonmarker to the south, the Richmond annex to the west, East Richmond Heightsmarker to the north, and Wildcat Canyon Regional Parkmarker to the east. Local landmark Albany Hillmarker is in Albany, just across the border with El Cerrito. (El Cerrito -- Spanish, "little hill" -- takes its name from Albany Hill.) The Hayward Fault runs through El Cerrito. In addition, El Cerrito is within 150 meters (500 ft) of Berkeleymarker to the southeast.

El Cerrito is approximately from the University of California Berkeleymarker campus and it has two BART (Bay Area rapid transit) stations: El Cerrito del Nortemarker and El Cerrito Plazamarker.


El Cerrito Plazamarker is the largest shopping center in the city; containing grocery stores, several restaurants, a chain bookstore, chain pet store, chain housewares store, and pharmacy in addition to many shops and boutiques. The shopping center is surrounded by other commercial and shopping businesses along San Pablo Avenue and Fairmount Avenue respectively, including fast food and an ACE Hardware store. The Cerrito Theater, which for years was a furniture store, has been restored into a hybrid restaurant/movie theatre. The vintage restored Cerrito Theater signs remain; this theatre has become a big hit in the Bay Area and has been featured in many local newspapers to rave reviews. The Cerrito has recently opened under new management, Rialto Cinemas. The Guitar Center, also located on San Pablo Avenue, is well-known among the Bay Area music scene.

El Cerrito has an array of recreational parks. Most notable are the 80-acre Hillside Natural Area open space, Huber Park (Terrace Drive), Cerrito Vista Park (Moeser Lane and Pomona Avenue), and Arlington Park (Arlington Boulevard), Tassajara Park (Tassajara Avenue and Barrett Avenue), Poinsett Park (Poinsett Avenue), and the Canyon Trail Park and Art Center (Gatto Avenue). The City is also well known for the Ohlone Greenway, a landscaped trail that runs the length of the City along the BART right-of-way and is popular with walkers, runners, and bicyclists.

Nation's Giant Hamburgers is headquartered along San Pablo Avenue in central El Cerrito.


As of the census of 2000, there were 23,171 people, 10,208 households, and 5,971 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,356.5 people per square mile (2,451.1/km²). There were 10,462 housing units at an average density of 2,870.1/sq mi (1,106.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 57.79% White, 8.54% Black or African American, 0.50% Native American, 24.38% Asian, 0.25% Pacific Islander, 3.06% from other races, and 5.48% from two or more races. 7.93% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 10,208 households out of which 20.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.4% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.5% were non-families. 30.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the city the population was spread out with 15.9% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 25.7% from 45 to 64, and 20.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 89.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $57,253, and the median income for a family was $69,397 (these figures had risen to $77,650 and $97,488 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $50,316 versus $40,866 for females. The per capita income for the city was $32,593. About 3.5% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.9% of those under age 18 and 3.9% of those age 65 or over.

At home the percentages of the languages residents speak are English 70.47%, Spanish 6.26%, Chinese 5.96%, Japanese 2.70%, Mandarin 1.80%, Cantonese 1.57%, Persian 1.43%, Tagalog 1.30%, Korean 1.08%, French 0.90%, German 0.83%, Formosan 0.73%, Italian 0.66%, Vietnamese 0.57%, Urdu 0.50%, and 3.23% of people spoke some other language which represented less than 0.50% of the population.

Notable people

Founders of the rock and roll band Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty and Tom Fogerty, grew up in El Cerrito. The band reunited to play their last concert at an El Cerrito High School reunion at Golden Gate Fields in Albany.The Bay Area tenure of Metallica started out in El Cerrito. Drew Gooden, who plays forward for the San Antonio Spurs, also went to El Cerrito High School. During his tenure, the basketball team went to, and lost, in the state basketball final.

  • Les Blank, documentary filmmaker (born 1935)

  • Pumpsie Green first African American to play for the Boston Red Sox

  • Dr. Wil Burns, Editor in Chief, Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy

Schools in El Cerrito

  • Keystone Montessori School
  • Montessori Community School
  • Castro Elementary School
  • Fairmont Elementary School
  • Harding Elementary School
  • Madera Elementary School
  • Portola Junior High School
  • Prospect Sierra School
  • St. Jerome Catholic School
  • St. John The Baptist
  • Tehiyah Day School
  • Windrush School
  • El Cerrito High School


  1. Contra Costa/Alameda County Line, Mervin Belfils/El Cerrito Historical Society, October 1975/June 2006, retrieved 2007-08-01
  2. Guitar Center
  4. El Cerrito entry, MLA Data Center, retrieved October 21, 2007

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