'Local Legacy' Solano Avenue Stroll attracts 300,000 people

The annual Solano Avenue Stroll was back Sunday for its 44th year on the Berkeley-Albany line. Photo: Alex Savidge/KTVU.

The annual Solano Avenue Stroll, which was back today for its 44th year on the Berkeley-Albany line, filled the one-mile commercial corridor from San Pablo to The Alameda with an estimated 150,000 strollers at its peak.

This largest street fair in the East Bay attracted an estimated 300,000 people to the avenue "during the course of the day," according to the Solano Avenue Association, which stages the event.

The stroll is held "Invariably the second Sunday in September," as the association notes on its website. But that wasn't always the case -- in its earliest years, the stroll was a weekday evening event, and it was only for the Berkeley part of the avenue. 

According to a history page on the Solano Avenue Association website, the event "was organized in 1974 as a 'thank-you' party for customers by the Thousand Oaks Merchant Association led by Lisa Burnham and Ira Klein."

That arrangement continued for seven years before the Stroll was expanded in 1981 to include both the Berkeley and Albany portions of the avenue, now closed to motor traffic for the day.

In 2000, U.S. Rep.  Barbara Lee successfully submitted the Stroll as a "Local Legacy" as part of the American Folklife Center of the U.S. Library of Congress.