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Kensington (formerly, Kensington Park) is an unincorporated community and census-designated place located in the East Bay, part of the San Francisco Bay Areamarker, in Contra Costa County, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 4,936 at the 2000 census.

Law and government

Kensington is an unincorporated area of Contra Costa Countymarker that borders Alameda Countymarker. Unlike many unincorporated communities, Kensington has local jurisdiction over its police department, park services, refuse collection and fire department. These are governed by two elected boards: the five-member Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District Board which oversee the police department, park services and refuse collection and the five-member Kensington Fire District Board which oversee the fire department and emergency medical services, of which the day-to-day function is outsourced to the fire department of El Cerritomarker, a neighboring community.


The area that is now Kensington was originally the territory of the Huichin band of the Ohlone indigenous people who occupied much of the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.

In 1823, the Republic of Mexico granted Rancho San Pablomarker, an extent of land lying north of Cerrito Creek and the Rancho San Antoniomarker, including that portion of land that is now Kensington, to Francisco Castro, a veteran of the Mexican Army.

In 1892, Anson iles Blake purchased a portion of Castro's land, most of which is now Kensington.

In 1911, the area was named "Kensington" by Robert Brousefield, a surveyor who had lived in the Londonmarker borough of South Kensingtonmarker at one time.

In the 1920s, the East Bay Municipal Utility Districtmarker (EBMUD) constructed an aqueduct through the Berkeley Hillsmarker to transport water from the San Pablo Reservoirmarker to a still-active pumping facility in Kensington, located just above the Colusa Circle. Some of the water received by this facility is pumped up the hill to the Summit Reservoir located at the top of Spruce Street. The rest is pumped to other reservoirs serving the East Bay.

Until 1948, a streetcar line of the Key System ran to Kensington from Berkeley along The Arlington, terminating in the small commercial area at Amherst Avenue. The streetcar was then replaced by an AC Transit bus route which continues to run along The Arlington. The streetcar service played an important role in the development of Kensington by making it more accessible.

The late local historian Louis Stein Jr. lived and worked in Kensington, maintaining a pharmacy on the corner of Amherst and The Arlington. For many years, he kept one of the East Bay's oldest horsecars in his yard---one that had probably seen service between Temescal, Oaklandmarker and the University of Californiamarker in Berkeley. The horsecar is now at the Western Railway Museummarker.

During the Cold War a large Nike missile battery, comprising two separate installations, was located in the hills directly behind Kensington. The silos are now sealed up, with concrete blocks being their only trace today. The preferred access is a foot and bike trail from Inspiration Point in Tilden Regional Park. Besides its connection with the Cold War, the battery was also the site of an occupation in June 1971 by some 50 "veterans" of the 19-month-long Native American occupation of Alcatrazmarker. The occupation was ended after three days by a combined force of Richmond Police and regular US Army troops from the Presidio of San Franciscomarker.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 1.1 square miles (3.0 km²), of which, 1.1 square miles (3.0 km²) of it is land and 0.87% is water.

Kensington borders Berkeleymarker and Albanymarker to the south, El Cerritomarker to its west and north, and Wildcat Canyon Regional Parkmarker and Tilden Regional Park to the east.

Kensington is largely residential, with two small shopping districts. One of these is located on the Arlington, the other centered on the Colusa Circle.


As of the census of 2000, there were 4,936 people, 2,192 households, and 1,372 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 4,301.9 people per square mile (1,657.2/km²). There were 2,245 housing units at an average density of 1,956.6/sq mi (753.7/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 81.77% White, 2.55% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 10.58% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.91% from other races, and 3.93% from two or more races. 3.48% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 2,192 households out of which 23.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.5% were married couples living together, 6.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% were non-families. 26.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% 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 2.69.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 17.7% under the age of 18, 3.1% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 31.7% from 45 to 64, and 22.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females there were 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.3 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $93,247, and the median income for a family was $102,601. Males had a median income of $71,278 versus $55,347 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $55,275. About 1.7% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.0% of those under age 18 and 3.8% of those age 65 or over.

Points of interest


  1. Nike Missile Sites of the SF Bay Area
  2. Berkeley Gazette, June 15-18, 1971
  • Kensington: Past and Present, Kensington Improvement Club (2000)

External links

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