Albany, California is a tiny town, almost exactly one mile square. Population is approximately 18,000. Many know Albany simply as North Berkeley, because it is continuous with that city, to the point where some sidewalks are in Berkeley while the stores located on that point of the street are in Albany.
Albany was incorporated in 1908, primarily to stop Berkeley from dumping its garbage inside of what was then Ocean View. In fact, in order to stop the dumping the women of Ocean View armed themselves with whatever guns, bows and arrows, and other weapons were available and held up the garbage coaches.
At first, Albany was a very working class town inhabited by workers from the Alameda dockyards and the nitro glycerin factories. Albany was very politically conservative; the John Birch Society had a regional headquarters there and the Ku Klux Klan once marched down the main commercial street, Solano Avenue. Eventually, UC Berkeley students looking for cheap family housing filled the town.
Now, Albany is made up mostly of families. Taxes are fairly high to support the superb school district (it's in California's Top 15) and housing is expensive (two bedroom, one bathroom houses going for $350,000 to $500,000).
The town is very liberal and quite diverse, with over 17 languages spoken in the Albany Unified School District. It is quiet and peaceful and although most of Albany's teenagers consider the place a bore, it makes a great home base-it's safe and small and right next to Berkeley and Oakland and it's a short BART ride to San Francisco.
Albany has several points of interest: