11 Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Kensington, CA

There are many reasons we love being in Kensington, CA, the people chief among them.

But there are others, too, one of which is simple: there is some very interesting trivia surrounding the town! Don’t believe us? Take a look at this list of 11 facts about Kensington. We bet at least a few of them will make you say, “Hmm, that’s pretty cool.”

1. Kensington is an unincorporated community – in other words, it is not governed by its own incorporated municipal government, it’s more of an “unofficial” town – but unlike most unincorporated towns, it runs its own police department, parks, and more.

2. Kensington was named after South Kensington, a borough of London.

3. Many attempts have been made over the years to absorb Kensington into El Cerrito, but voters have repeatedly resisted such measures.

4. El Cerrito would not exist without the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Refugees from that disaster cleared out of the city and settled in what was known as Don Víctor Castro's Rancho San Pablo. By 1909, a post office had opened there. The town was incorporated in 1916, and El Cerrito was born.

5. Most towns in the region have grown over the years, but not Kensington. The town’s population of roughly 5,000 residents is actually well below its peak of 6,600 in 1950.

6. Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, known as the “father of the atomic bomb,” lived at 10 Kenilworth Court during World War II. At the time, he was conducting top secret work on the atomic bomb.

7. Kensington’s mid-block pedestrian paths were created thanks to a streetcar line that used to run through town, the Key System. The Key System connected Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito and others by streetcar until 1948, and by train until 1958.

8. Kensington is just one square mile in size.

9. The town plays a vital role in supplying the area with potable water. The pumping station in town is essential to moving water from the San Pablo Reservoir to the Summit Reservoir and other reservoirs throughout the East Bay region. Big thing for a small town!

10. Nearby El Cerrito’s boasts some notable musicians who are or once were residents, including John Fogerty (Credence Clearwater Revival), Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta, Suicidal Tendencies), Paul Baloff (Exodus), and Dave Mello (Operation Ivy).

11. To further the music connection, rock icons Metallica wrote their second and third albums(Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets) in El Cerrito.

With a town as rich with interesting history, facts and trivia as Kensington – it is small only in size, not in spirit! – we’re surely missing a few interested tidbits. Let us know about them in the comments!