San Francisco, Urbanism — June 29, 2012 2:18 pm
They might catch your eye as you hike up the hills near Dolores Park, walk through the Richmond fog, or stroll the quiet streets of Cole Valley: red brick circles are embedded in dozens of San Francisco’s roads throughout the city.
These brick circles might look decorative, but there’s much more to them than what’s on the surface. Underneath each is a concrete tank that holds 75,000 gallons of water. 172 of these underground cisterns exist throughout the city, making up an important component of San Francisco’s Auxiliary Water Supply System (AWSS).
The AWSS was developed in response to 1906 earthquake, which caused a devastating combination of fires and damage to the major water lines that were needed to fight them. Left with few usable hydrants and a lack of sufficient backup water supply, firefighters were unable to stop the blazes for days.
Smoke billowed over San Francisco as the fires of 1906 spread throughout the city with few available firefighting resources. [Source: San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library]
As city engineers developed plans for a better emergency water system, they noted that San Francisco’s 23 cisterns were among the few firefighting resources that had worked in the aftermath of the earthquake. They called for a much larger network of cisterns throughout the city. Over one hundred were constructed in the next few decades, including one cistern every 3 blocks in key downtown areas. Along with cisterns, the AWSS includes a major reservoir on Twin Peaks and pump systems that draw directly from San Francisco Bay. These backup resources were critical in fighting fires that broke out after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Red bricks outline a cistern on Dolores Street at 24th.
Not all cisterns are outlined by the distinctive brick circles, but you can tell there’s one nearby if you spot a fire hydrant with a green top. Different colors and shapes are used to indicate a hydrant’s water source and pressure level.
A green fire hydrant “bonnet” indicates that there’s a cistern nearby. This one is on Castro Street at 14th.
Each cistern is also covered with a manhole that reads CISTERN S.F.F.D., but they’re no longer maintained by the Fire Department. In 2010, the Public Utilities Commission assumed responsibility for the Auxiliary Water Supply System, which has survived several earthquakes but is showing its age with rust and leaks. By the end of this decade, the Public Utilities Commission hopes to have completed major renovations and seismic updates. For more information on these efforts, visit sfearthquakesafety.org.
Cistern maintenance moved to the SF Public Utilities Commission in 2010, but S.F.F.D. labels remain on manhole covers. This cistern is at Douglass and Elizabeth.
No red bricks here: this cistern cover hides in the grass at the edge of Dolores Park.
By Cindy Casey
There have been over 79 breweries in San Francisco’s history, most of them either lost to the 1906 earthquake or in the two years following the 1919 passage of the 21st amendment. These lost brew houses included the North Star Brewery at Filbert and Sansome, the Globe Brewing Company at Sansome and Greenwich and the Jackson Brewing Company. Yet despite the fact that the Jackson Brewing Company did not survive Prohibition, its building still stands.
The Jackson Brewing Company was owned by the William A. Fredericks family from 1867 to 1920. The first brewery was on First Street between Howard and Folsom; they purchased the property at Folsom and 11th in 1905. Early construction was destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent fire. Consequently, the new brewery wasn’t completed until 1912.
The brewery is composed of a series of low-rise brick buildings sitting on a concrete foundation and simply ornamented with concrete and wood. This Romanesque Revival style brewery is one of the last remaining turn-of-the-century brewing complexes of its type.
Romanesque architecture was a style that emerged in Western Europe in the early 11th century. It has Roman and Byzantine elements and is characterized by massive articulated wall structures, round arches, and powerful vaults. This style lasted until the advent of Gothic architecture in the middle of the 12th century. Romanesque Revival was the reuse in the second half of the 19th century of the massive Romanesque forms.
Romanesque architecture in the United States was much simpler than that found in Europe. The Romanesque features of the Jackson Brewery include semicircular arches for the door and window openings and a belt course (a horizontal band across a building).
Due to its brick construction, the Jackson Brewery building did not fare well in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. A thorough retrofitting was done to upgrade the building to San Francisco’s 1990 building codes. The building is now a mixed-use complex with seven live-work condominiums and a restaurant.
The Jackson Brewery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 and is San Francisco Landmark #199.
1489 Folsom Street, San Francisco [Map]
Mayor, successful business man, future governor, whorehouse owner “Sunny Jim” Rolph
March 3, 2011 by A Golden Gate State of Mind
Charming, charismatic, successful businessman and whorehouse owner, ”Sunny Jim” Rolph was the longest serving mayor in San Francisco history.
He was born to British parents in the city on 23rd August 1869 and educated in the Mission District where he also lived in adult life in a large mansion at the corner of San Jose and 25th Streets. After jobs as a newsboy, clerk and messenger he entered the shipping business in 1900, forming a partnership with George Hind. For the next ten years he served as President of two banks, one of which he established, as well as founding the Rolph Shipping Company and James Rolph Company. He also directed the Ship Owners and Merchants Tugboat Company and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to his country’s entry into the First World War he supplied coal and ships to the Allied Countries. With an estimated wealth of $5 million he bought a ranch west of Stanford University. It is reported that the Department of Public Works made all the improvements to the ranch at the taxpayers’ expense, not the last time his appropriation of public funds for his own personal gain was mooted.
In 1911 Rolph was encouraged to run for Mayor against the incumbent P.H. McCarthy who had failed to curb the corruption that was rife in the city. Following a six week campaign categorised by egg throwing, fist fights and police riots, he won comfortably.
His first major project was the construction of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, designed not only to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal but, equally importantly, to showcase the remarkable renaissance of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. It was during the latter that he he had earned the gratitude of the city by, as head of a relief committee, delivering water and supplies with his horse and wagon.
He opened the Exposition by, pied piper style, leading 150,000 followers down Van Ness Avenue and Lombard Street to the Fairgrounds, now the Marina District. The profits from the highly successful event were used to build the Civic Auditorium.
As Mayor, he personally oversaw the construction of City Hall, and on the day it was dedicated in 1915, climbed the golden dome, “beamed at the astonished faces below”, and ran up the American flag.
His nickname derived from his relentlessly cheerful, gregarious disposition. With a theme song entitled ”There Are Smiles That Make You Happy” he paraded about town in, alternately a stovepipe silk or derby hat, dapper black suit with a flower, usually a carnation, in the buttonhole, smiling and “pressing the flesh” of the city’s residents as if he were on a continuous election campaign trail. He would often pick up pedestrians on his way to City Hall and drive them to their destination. He was known as the “Mayor of All the People”, relating to people of all races, religions and political parties. He even invited Communist protestors into his office for a chat.
He had time for everyone as he ”popped up” at just about every public event, seeing it as a photo opportunity to promote himself. His role was primarily as the charming figurehead for city government, leaving the day to day running of his administration (which bored him), including several major public works projects such as the Bay Bridge, Hetch Hetchy water system, which supplies most of the city’s water, and San Francisco Airport, to trusted colleagues.
Rolph’s affable manner and the spectacular but costly festivities he arranged to celebrate major political events may have endeared him to the man in the street, but he presided over a “lawless, debauched city”in which “gambling and prostituion thrived”. Moreover, he contributed personally towards this by owning the Pleasure Palace, an “entertainment hideout”at 21st Street and Sanchez on Liberty Hill. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that he made only half-hearted attempts to clean up the city. This, along with his lax stance on enforcing Prohibition, may have partly accounted for his four re-elections and nineteen years in office.
His flamboyant image extended to appearances in several films, notably the 1915 documentaryMabel and Fatty Viewing the World’s Fair at San Francisco, directed by Fatty Arbuckle and the short, Hello Frisco.
Rolph’s drinking and alleged affair with movie star, Anita Page, however, scarred his final term in office. He missed meetings at City Hall and drivers would be despatched to find him. When he did turn up he appeared drunk and patently unwell.
He was elected the 27th Governor of California from 6th January 1931 when he resigned as San Francisco Mayor. However, the advent of the Great Depression and the budgetary constraints that that inevitably imposed upon the State, had serious personal and political consequences. Moreover, laregly as a result of his shenanigans over a previous gubernatorial campaign, his contract to build three new ships for the Federal Government was cancelled and he was banned from selling ships to foreign governments, accelerating his financial ruin.
His political inadequacies were also regularly exposed, provoking a recall movement against him within two years of taking office. His tenure was dogged by controversy, not least when he publicly praised the citizens of San Jose, whilst promising to pardon anyone involved, following the November 1933 lynching of the confessed murderers of Brooke Hart, the son of a wealthy local merchant. He was thereafter known as ”Governor Lynch”.
As he fell into serious debt his health failed, although he continued to make personal appearances against medical advice. Following a number of heart attacks he died on 2nd June 1934 at Riverside Farm, Santa Clara County. He was brought home to lie in state in the City Hall rotunda.
Notwithstanding his many flaws, Rolph’s popularity in his home town was unquestioned. and illustrated in the decision to name the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, that had begun to be built under his stewardship, the “James “Sunny Jim” Rolph Bridge”.
Finally, I am particularly indebted for much of the detail in this article to the historical essay on Rolph written by Daniel Steven Crofts.
EARTHQUAKE PREMIER PARTY
PARTY LIKE IT’S 1906!
…….Events + Lectures > Earthquake Premiere Party Earthquake Premiere Party
Party like it’s 1906! Be the first to experience the brand new Earthquake exhibit and planetarium show. Revel in the atmosphere of the Barbary Coast, San Francisco’s most exciting era, with dancing, music, and cocktails.Earthquake Premiere PartyFriday, May 257:00 pm – Midnight ages 21+Travel back to a time when San Francisco was the ‘Paris of America.’ The largest port city in the West, it was rich in gold, industry, and culture and brimming with excitement, grit, beauty, and mischief. Experience a taste of the seedy Barbary Coast, brought to life through variety shows, art installations, roving characters, and live music provided by the Vau de Vire Society. Feel the awesome power of the Great Quake in an earthquake simulator, try a Pisco Punch or Martinez cocktail, and then dance the night away to the vintage sounds of the Sour Mash Hug Band.HighlightsBe the first to see the Earthquake exhibit and planetarium show. Get a glimpse before its public debut.Brace yourself with a new, visually stunning planetarium show that journeys through the San Andreas fault, delves into the Earth’s core, and explores the seismic science of earthquakes throughout our world.Costumes and period dress are encouraged! Find inspiration in fashion from the Steampunk, Edwardian, or Barbary Coast eras to show off your inner dandy. Strut your stuff in a fashion show and contest.Turn on the red light with titillating entertainment, including a vaudeville show, Can–Can dancers, and music by the John Brothers Piano Company.View an exclusive exhibit featuring photographs of San Francisco before and after the 1906 earthquake, and Academy specimens and archive materials saved from the ensuing fires. The Earthquake Premiere Party is for guests ages 21 and over. Ticket prices are per person. Rupture Zone Package: $99 Space is limited!Rock the epicenter of the party!VIP Lounge from 7:00pm – 10:00pmEvent: 7:00pm – midnight ages 21+Hors d‘oeuvres and flowing bowl of Pisco Punch, provided by GreenCap Productions by Charles Phan, entertainment by Veronica Klaus and Vau de Vire Society, and two complimentary drinks.Admission to Premiere Party, including access to the Earthquake exhibit.Reserved planetarium show ticketsIncludes 9:30pm or 10:15 planetarium show ticketsTickets » Seismic Zone Tickets: Members $49/Non–Members $69Shake things up 1906–style!Event: 7:00pm – midnight ages 21+Admission to Premiere Party, including access to the Earthquake exhibit.Two complimentary drinksPlanetarium show tickets are not included. Show tickets are available for a $10 upgrade at check–out. Limited availabilityTickets »
LITERARY SAN FRANCISCO
Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, came to San Francisco in the early 1860s and found work as a reporter for the Daily Morning Call. The failed Confederate soldier and miner found his calling after writing burlesque under the name Josh and comic tales in the style of Artemus Ward. In San Francisco, Twain lived at the Occidental Hotel
and fondly compared Montgomery Street to Main Street in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri for he had made many acquaintances in a short time and was widely recognized walking along the downtown street. In the offices of the Golden Era at 732 Montgomery Street, which would have been in the Jackson Square area pictured here, Twain worked with a group of young writers including Bret Harte, who Twain credited with developing his talent. “He changed me from an awkward utterer of coarse grotesqueness to a writer of paragraphs and chapters that havefound a certain favor in the eyes of some of the very decentest people,” Twain said. As a reporter he covered the police, theatre, and society. Before going on to worldwide fame as the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and other works, his articles exposed police brutality, abuse of the Chinese, and political corruption. For the Golden Era, he wrote, “The Washoe Wit: Mark Twain on the Rampage.”
Jack Kerouac authored the American classic On the Road and influenced an entire generation more than fifty
years ago and just ahead of the rock and roll revolution. North Beach resident Kerouac tells the mostly autobiographical story of Sal Paradise (Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty (friend Neal Cassady), who find a kind of personal liberation and respite from mundane conformity by hitting the road from the east coast to California. What follows is a travelogue of American days and nights and people who “burn like fabulous roman candles.” With his
rebels-without-a-cause story line and spontaneous, unconventional writing style, Kerouac became a pop icon and celebrity. His work details a life of tumultuous friendships and social isolation anesthetized by caustic wit as well as drugs and alcohol. Kerouac died in 1969 in his late 40s.The original manuscript of On the Road, seen here, was written on 128 feet of tracing paper fashioned by Kerouac with tape to form a continuous scroll. The manuscript, a stream of consciousness without interruption, was created in New York during a 20-day writing binge. The manuscript was purchased for $2.43 million by Indiana Colts ower James Irsay on May 22, 2001. The sum is the most ever paid for a literary work.
Danielle Steel An air of romantic secrecy emanates from her Pacific Heights mansion
. The author, who recently published her 50th best selling title, lives a life more dramatic than that of the most harried heroine from her many romance novels including Passion’s Promise, Now and Forever, A Perfect Stranger, and No Greater Love. In childhood Steel survived polio and cancer. Among her five husbands are a convicted bank robber/rapist and a heroin addict/burglar. Later husbands include a Silicon Valley investor and John Traina, a vintner and film producer who owns one of the world’s largest Fabergé collections. Steel herself is Saks Fifth Avenue’s best customer here. In recent years she has survived the heroin death of her 19 year-old son, as well as a relationship with actor George Hamilton. An international traveler, Steel’s lavish home base is the 55-room mansion at Washington and Octavia which was built in 1912 for Adolph and Alma de Bretteville Spreckles.
Dashiell Hammett is the exemplar of 20th Century noir detective writers.
San Francisco’s foggy streets and mysterious atmosphere were a perfect match for Hammett’s dame-and-gumshoe imagination. The Thin Man, Black Mask, and Maltese Falcon author lived in this Tenderloin apartment building, 891 Post Street #401, one of his many San Francisco addresses in the 1920s. Hammett worked as a private eye for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in the Flood Building on Market Street before his success as America’s author of crime and murder fiction. Completists will find an ersatz descendant, Pinkerton Security Services, at 731 Market.
Rudyard Kipling said that San Francisco is a mad City inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people whose women are of remarkable beauty,” said . Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865. Educated in England, he returned to India in 1892 and wrote for Anglo-Indian newspapers. He became famous for writing short stories of sympathetic soldiers. Works include Soldiers Three, Barrack Room Ballads, The Jungle Book, The Second Jungle Book, Captains Courageous, Just So Stories, Actions and Reactions, and Limits and Renewals. Kipling visited the City in 1889. He thought the place was barbaric but he liked its cable car system – an innovation that was only a couple of years old at the time – and its women. During his lifetime, Kipling was a Nobel Prize winning man of letters. He died in 1936. Of San Francisco Kipling added, “‘Tis hard to leave.”
Allen Ginsberg on October 13th, 1955 gave the first public reading of his poem Howl at this location, then the Six Gallery, at 3119 Fillmore Street. When the subversive rage against materialism was published in 1956 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights, the Beat movement had arrived. Worldwide media focused on the sensational First Amendment trial defended by City Lights after copies of the slim volume were seized by members of the San Francisco Police Department and U.S. Customs. The government claimed the poem was obscene and without redeeming social value because it used dirty words and blunt descriptions of gay sex. The vindication of Howl in a courtroom on September 9, 1957 paved the way for future generations of provocative literature by establishing obscenity criteria. Howl went on to become one of the most widely read poems of the 20th Century and was translated into more than twenty languages. Ginsberg became a Distinguished Professor at Brooklyn College in New York near the end of a prolific career and remained active in the literary community until his death in 1997.
Hunter S. Thompson is the acclaimed journalist and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas who lived in this building at 318 Parnassus when he was researching his book Hell’s Angels. Thompson introduced the outlaw motorcycle club to mainstream America in 1967 with the book, which Thompson researched by partying with Hell’s Angels members. In typical San Francisco fashion, neighbors were undisturbed when Thompson shot out a window here with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .44 magnum, but complained when the Hell’s Angels parked their motorcycles on the sidewalk. More recently, Hunter S. Thompson wrote a column for the new San Francisco Examiner.
Jack London has a small street named for him which can be found on either side of South Park, a couple of blocks from the author’s birthplace on Third Street near Brannan. The short life of Jack London, who died of uremic poisoning at the age of 40 in 1916, was rich with adventure. The unwanted son of a spiritualist medium was raised in Oakland by his mother and a financially hapless stepfather. As a teenager, London lived on the edge on the Oakland waterfront, raiding the bay’s oyster beds and laboring in a cannery and jute mill. Later, he sailed with a sealing crew off Japan and Siberia then went on a vagabond’s tour across America. He joined the gold rush to the Klondike at 21. A veracious reader and writer whose stories were inspired by his travels, prolific London was writing two books a year and scores of articles in the late 1890s. America’s first working class writer, London was an avowed Socialist who reveled in his financial success, which he saw as a victory over the Capitalists as the U.S. entered into a tumultuous transition from laissez-faire to corporate capitalism.
Armistead Maupin created a phenomenon when he started writing Tales of the City as a column for the Chronicle in the 1970s. Reformatted and published as books in the ’80s then television films in the ’90s, Tales of the City is unmatched as a diary, however fictional, of San Franciscans. The entire range from secretaries and waiters to TV hosts, movie stars and international criminals are included as characters in Maupin’s tales as they are in San Francisco’s own true story. The adventures of Tales heroine Mary Ann Singleton predate the Chronicle serial, having first appeared in the San Francisco edition of the Pacific Sun. As in real life, most of Maupin’s characters keep one eye on their secrets while looking for love in the bay city. In addition to characters based
on popular public figures, the tales take place in well known City locations. Maupin’s alter ego, Michael Tolliver, wins a dance contest at the Endup but nearly loses the love of his life when Dr. Jon Fielding and his snooty Pacific Heights friends walk in during the finals.While Macondray Lane on Russian Hill is accepted as the Tales of the City location, 28 Barbary Lane, Maupin actually lived in several apartments on Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill from the time he moved to the City in the early ’70s. The tales debuted in the Chronicle on May 24, 1976. Later, Maupin moved to Noe Street in the Castro before settling in Cole Valley. Since everything about Tales of the City is a composite of real life, you can be sure that Maryann, Michael, Mona Ramsey, Brian Hawkins, landlady Anna Madrigal, and others all crossed the thresholds of these locations:
William Saroyan, Flamboyant writer and humanitarian, became a literary sensation at the age of 26 when his story, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, was published by Story magazine in 1932. Around that time he lived at 348 Carl Street. His play, “The Time of Your Life,” was drawn from characters and situations at a well known Pacific Avenue (then Pacific Street) pub owned by Izzy Gomez. In “The Time of Your Life,” the principal setting is “Nick’s,” #3 Pacific. If the address still existed, it would be located at the end of a pedestrian walkway between Buildings 1 and 2 of the Golden Gateway Commons. Off stage action occurs at nearby Pier 27. Saroyan, who called himself “The World’s Greatest Writer,” won the Pulitzer Prize for the play but declined it and the $1,000 purse, insisting that commerce should not drive the arts. Saroyan’s novel The Human Comedy draws from his own experiences as a messenger in his native Fresno. Unique among writers, Armenian American Saroyan advanced Armenian culture as an important source of literary inspiration. Saroyan once said, “No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does. Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living.”
Amy Tan‘s ground-breaking fiction demonstrates the power of the mother-daughter relationship to overcome adversity. The Oakland-born Asian-American achieved acclaim with The Joy Luck Club in 1989. Her work includes the novels The Kitchen God’s Wife (1991), The Hundred Secret Senses (1995), and The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2001), in addition to essays, children’s books, and screenplays. Her literature is characterized by themes of generational dissonance and immigrant issues. As a pop culture icon she has been a character on The Simpsons and is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock group whose members include Dave Barry, Tad Bartimus, Roy Blount, Jr., Kathi Goldmark, Simpson’s creator Matt Groening, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Ridley Pearson, and Joel Selvin. Tan lives in San Francisco and New York with her husband, Lou DeMattei.
Kay Boyle lived in this house at 419 Frederick Street in the 1970s when she taught at San Francisco State College. American-born Boyle left the U.S. and lived in Paris during the years between World War I and WWII. She earned a reputation as one of the greatest writers of that era. Boyle’s novels include Plagued by the Nightingale and Year Before Last. She was also celebrated for her story collections; Wedding Day, and First Lover, as well as for her poetry; A Glad Day and Selected Poems.
Dorothy Bryant a native San Franciscan and feminist writer is the author of 12 novels, two nonfiction works, and four plays. “A Day in San Francisco” is Bryant’s controversial mother-son take on gay life in the City on the eve of the 1980 Gay Freedom Day Parade. Her 1986 novel “Confessions of Madame Psyche” is so realistic in emotional truth and historic detail about early 20th Century life in San Francisco and the Bay Area that most readers forget this is a fictional work. Bryant, the daughter of northern Italian immigrants, taught English and music in high schools and community colleges for 23 years. She lives in Berkeley, where she and her husband run the independent publishing company, Ata Books.
Ambrose Bierce came long before Caen, Hoppe, Delaplane, Morse, or Hinckle; ages before both Matier and Ross.Bierce created the first recognized newspaper column in the U.S. His “Prattles” ran in the Examiner for thirty years beginning in the late 1800s. Bierce continued a style of news commentary and reportage he used earlier in his “Telegraphic Jottings,” and in the News Letter’s “Town Crier.” His rapier criticism and bold satirical invective was aimed at just about everything and everybody corrupt in the eyes of Bierce. He took on other writers and even the Examiner. With that his aim was to “purify journalism in this town by instructing such writers as it is worthwhile to instruct, and assassinating those that it is not.” Blurring the line between social philosopher and humorist, Bierce was a self appointed hypocrisy detector. He wrote, “Truth is better than anything or all things; the next best thing to truth is the absence of error.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once occupied the Lafayette Heights residence at 2151 Sacramento Street the plaque on the wall. Actually, Conan Doyle only visited for a few hours when this was the home of an associate, Dr. Abrams. Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, visited San Francisco once in his lifetime, in late May and early June of 1923. The author and his wife stayed at the Clift Hotel during Conan Doyle’s second and final lecture tour in the U.S. Though Conan Doyle’s stay was brief, his character Dr. Watson was married and practiced medicine in the City, according to a Conan Doyle play. One wonders what influence, if any, the exaggerated Sacramento Street plaque, which was placed by an owner of the house in the 1970s, has on the property’s value.
Herb Caen is one of a kind in the world but he is first and foremost a San Franciscan. The Sacramento native was hired by Chronicle editor Paul Smith in the late 1930s at the age of 20. Smith was a wonderkind who at 26 didn’t want to be the youngest person on the paper’s staff. After initially writing sports, Caen became known in all corners of the City for his man about town column, It’s News to Me, which debuted on July 5, 1938. He continued to chronicle the City for 58 years, guided by his instincts, his daily deadline, and his love for San Francisco. With a front seat at the epicenter of the City’s politics and society, the town belonged to him and him to it. There wasn’t a coming or going by a man, woman, or natural phenomenon here that wasn’t observed by Caen and distilled at the Loyal Royal, his well-worn manual typewriter. With his own brand of nostalgia and reportage he gave the City a voice nearly as natural as if the hills had spoken for themselves. In addition to lighter observations and gossip about visiting celebrities, Caen eloquently and poetically captured insights about this land and its people like no other writer before or since. Sometimes controversial, admired by countless readers throughout the 20th Century, Caen succumbed to cancer in 1997 less than a year after winning the Pulitzer Prize.
Ruth Witt-Diamant, who founded the San Francisco Poetry Center in 1954, hosted many famous poets in her guestroom when she owned the house at this address, 1520 Willard Street. Among the writers who slept here were Anais Nin, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Stephen Spender, and Theodore Roethke.
Barnaby Conrad, author, artist, and raconteur is the founding director of the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference and the author of more than 27 books including Tahiti, La Fiesta Brava, Gates of Fear, San Francisco, Dangerfield, How to Fight a Bull, Famous Last Words, Hemingway’s Spain, Learning to Write Fiction from the Masters and The World of Herb Caen. The native San Franciscan is also a former vice consul to Spain, amateur bullfighter, art teacher, and onetime secretary to novelist Sinclair Lewis. He studied art at the Academie Julien in Paris and named his former North Beach night spot after his successful 1952 novel, Matador. His 1994 memoir Name Dropping: Tales from My Barbary Coast Saloon is, as the title suggests, a collection of gossip and stories from El Matador, which was located at 492 Broadway and known by regulars as “the Mat.” From the book: “The night Ava Gardner first came into El Matador she was sober and gorgeous. But two hours later she had snatched a bullfighter’s hat off the wall and was doing a torrid, if lurching, flamenco solo on the bar, her skirt hiked up around her waist, while her anonymous escort looked pained and the customers applauded.” Gardner’s inelegant turn notwithstanding, The Mat set a standard for elegant socializing in North Beach the likes of which has not been seen since the 1950s. Conrad, who founded the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference in 1972, is also the artist of a portrait of Bing Crosby that graces the receiving room of the Crosby mansion in Hillsborough.
Journalist and author Frances Bret Harte was the editor of San Francisco’s successful Overland Monthly when he published his story, “The Luck of the Roaring Camp” which brought him instant and wide fame in the late 1860s. Luck was the child of a camp prostitute raised with the help of altruistic miners in Victorian society. Much of Harte’s work features some kind of reprobate who’s redeemed by sacrifice and self denial. In 1870 his stories and his respected work at the helm of the Overland Monthly earned him a then lucrative $10,000 a year contract writing one poem or story per month for the Atlantic Monthly. Harte left California but not before his work greatly
influenced local color fiction here and elsewhere. His work elevated and romanticized Gold Rush denizens for a culture that was ready to listen. The same year, 1870, Harte wrote the poem, “Plain Language from Truthful Jim,” aka “The Heathen Chinee” which was easily exploited by racists for its unflattering portrayal of a Chinese card shark and the pronouncement by its narrator that “We are ruined by cheap Chinese labor.” During and after his run with the Atlantic Monthly, Harte’s career took him to New York, Boston, Glasgow, and Crefeld, Germany. Harte later lived in England where he wrote marginal stories using familiar material.
San Franciscan Jewelle Gomez is the esteemed activist and author of the award-winning novel, The Gilda Stories. Recent works include Forty Three Septembers (a book of personal and political essays), Don’t Explain (a collection of short fiction), and a Gilda stage adaptation entitled, “Bones & Ash: a Gilda Story.” Gomez is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship and two California Arts Council fellowships. She has served on literary panels including the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council and the San Francisco Arts Commission. In addition to numerous anthologies, Gomez’s fiction, essays, criticism and poetry have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Village Voice; The Advocate, Ms Magazine, Essence Magazine, and Black Scholar. Gomez recently served three years as executive director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State University. She frequently lectures at universities throughout the U.S. and is currently working on a comic novel about 1960s black activists facing middle age.
Robert Louis Stevenson came to San Francisco in August, 1879. A few months later he rented a room in the narrow three-story wooden building which then stood at 608 Bush Street. This plaque on the building at the Bush Street location commemorates Stevenson’s presence in San Francisco, as does a memorial at Portsmouth Square. While living at #608, Stevenson wrote From Jest to Earnest as well as essays about Benjamin Franklin and William Penn and a dime novel that he later abandoned.
Tom Wolfe‘ s 1968 best seller The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is a record of the hippie movement that the New York Times Book Review likened to Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Armies of the Night, a historical novel of the Vietnam protest movement. Wolfe rode around with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters in a bus driven by Kerouac cohort Neal Cassady. Wolfe’s brilliant book details the road trip and acid parties, the “acid tests,” given by the band of hippies and attended by Hunter S. Thomspon, Allen Ginsberg, the Grateful Dead,Wavy Gravy, and many, many other leaders and followers of the psychedelic movement. Two acid tests were given in San Francisco among others in Palo Alto, La Honda, Los Angeles, Mexico, and Portland, Oregon. The acid tests were the epoch of the psychedelic lifestyle. Wolfe is also the author of The Right Stuff, for which he was given the American Book Award for nonfiction, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Harold Vursell Award for prose style, and the Columbia Journalism Award.
George Sterling called San Francisco “The Cool, Grey City of Love.” The poet was born into an old Puritan family on Long Island in 1869. Young Sterling left Catholic study after he picked up poetry and moved to Oakland. He was later befriended by writers Jack London and Ambrose Bierce. Sterling referred to his mentor Bierce, with whom he had a tumultuous association, as “the Master.” Sterling made a name for himself with the publication of “A Wine of Wizardry” in 1907. He is closely associated with the Bohemian Club and is sometimes called “the King of Bohemian San Francisco” or “the last classic Bohemian.” Sterling wrote and directed a number of plays for the club’s world famous summertime High Jinks, and commited suicide in his room at the club on Sutter Street in 1926. Two years later, a park on Russian Hill was christened in Sterling’s honor. In 1982, the George Sterling Glade was restored by a committee lead by Don Herron, Bill Kostura, and John Law.
William Bronson is the author of “The Earth Shook, the Sky Burned,” published in 1959. The collection of stories and more than 400 photos of the devastation from the April 18, 1906 Earthquake and of the City that rose from the ashes remains the definitive book on the disaster. Bronson, a third generation Californian, began his literary career at the age of nine when he sold newspapers on a City street corner.
Fritz Leiber is one of the world’s foremost authors of science fiction fantasies. Among his many acclaimed works is Our Lady of Darkness. The supernatural horror novel was written at 811 Geary Street, where Leiber and his alter ego, lead character Franz Weston, lived. In the novel, San Francisco literary icons Dashiell Hammett, George Sterling, and Jack London appear as characters in flashback sequences. Leiber’s most famous novel is 1943′s Conjure Wife, which portrays all women as witches who control the world’s men. Leiber, who died in 1992 at the age of 82, is a multiple Hugo Award winner.
California’s first Poet Laureate and the first woman member of the Bohemian Club, Ina Donna Coolbrith is not only a pioneer in literature, she’s also a Pioneer. Coolbrith came to California on the back of a horse at the age of ten after her widowed mother denounced the Mormons and headed West with a new husband. Led by mountain guide James P. Beckwith, the family arrived in California from Illinois in September, 1852. Raised in Los Angeles, a young Coolbrith became a published poet. After a bad marriage, she reinvented herself and moved to San Francisco at the age 20. Her life here is marked by her distinguished career as a librarian and, with Charles Warren Stoddard and Bret Harte, as a member of “the Golden Gate Trinity,” the editors of the Overland Monthly. Coolbrith was a friend and mentor to three generations of writers including Mark Twain, Isadora Duncan, and Jack London. Though she achieved world acclaim, Coolbrith is perhaps equally famous for something she didn’t write. When the fire of 1906 burned her flat at 1406 Taylor Street, all of her notes were destroyed. Coolbrith’s lost history of literary California is akin to a record of the Italian Renaissance were it not to include the The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini. Among her accomplishments, Coolbrith was the first librarian of the Oakland Public Library. Born Josephine Donna Smith, her name is a composite of her birth name, a nom de plume, and her mother’s maiden name. A park dedicate in honor of Coolbrith is located near the Taylor Street address. With beautiful views and layers of walks and gardens, it is the pride of Russian HIll.
Frank Norris is best remembered for his 1899 novel, McTeague, the sordid story of a Polk Gulch dentist. Norris died in 1902 at the age of 32, but made his mark with naturalistic novels influenced by the work of Emile Zola. In his short but storied life, Norris studied art in Paris, attended Harvard University for a year, worked in South Africa as a travel writer, and covered the Spanish-American War in Cuba for McClure’s. Norris’ observations as a journalist covering the local scene for The Wave between 1891-1898 provided the writer with material for McTeague and his other San Francisco novels, Blix, and Vandover and the Brute. The alley named in honor of Norris is located off Larkin Street between Bush and Pine. McTeague became the basis for Erich Von Stroheim’s silent epic,Greed
As a teenager, Dr. Maya Angelou’s love for the arts won her a scholarship
to study dance and drama in San Francisco’s during World War II, she attended George Washington High School while studying dance and drama on a scholarship at the California Labor School. Before graduating, she worked as the first Black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Three weeks after completing school, at the age of 17, she gave birth to her son, Clyde, who also became a poet. Maya Angelou born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928) is an American author and poet. She has published six autobiographies, five books of essays, numerous books of poetry, and is credited with a long list of plays, movies, and television shows. She is one of the most decorated writers of her generation, with dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first and most highly acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her first seventeen years, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
City Lights Bookstore on Columbus Avenue is an enduring icon of North Beach and a valuable resource for new voices in literature. Founded byLawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953, City Lights became the center of gravity for the Beat movement. Still owned by San Francisco’s former Poet Laureate, Mr. Ferlinghetti, City Lights continues to support freethinking writers and poets who fall under the mainstream radar.
Unmistakable with its cave like entrance at 916 Grant, Li Po’s is a Chinatown literary bar named for the erudite Chinese poet Li Po (701-762). Li Po’s work celebrates natural beauty, love, friendship, solitude, and drink. He is one of the great poets of the Tang Dynasty, China’s Golden Age of poetry. (The Lipo bar has lost some its charm since its owners installed a TV for sports watching.)
THE MISSION DISTRICT
Location: The principal thoroughfare of the Mission District of San Francisco is Mission Street. Its borders are U.S. Route 101 to the east which forms the boundary between the eastern portion of the district, known as “Inner Mission” and its eastern neighbor, Potrero Hill, while Sanchez Street separates the neighborhoods from Eureka Valley (also known as “The Castro”) and Noe Valley to the west. The part of the neighborhood from Valencia Street to Sanchez Street, north of 20th, is known as Mission Dolores. South of 20th towards 22nd, and between Valencia and Dolores Streets is a distinct sub-neighborhood known as Liberty Hill. Cesar Chavez Street (formerly Army Street) is the southern border which lies next to Bernal Heights, while to the north the neighborhood is separated fromSouth of Market roughly by Duboce Avenue and the elevated highway of the Central Freeway which runs above 13th Street. Also along Mission Street, further south-central are the Excelsior and Crocker-Amazon neighborhoods, sometimes referred to as the “Outer Mission” (not to be confused with the actual Outer Mission neighborhood). The Mission District is part of San Francisco’s supervisorial districts 6, 9 and 10.
The microclimates of San Francisco create a system by which each neighborhood can have radically different weather at any given time. The Mission’s geographical location insulates it from the fog and wind from the west. As a result, the Mission has a tendency to be warmer and sunnier than the rest of the city. This climatic phenomenon becomes apparent to visitors who walk downhill from 24th Street in the west from Noe Valley (where clouds from Twin Peaks in the west tend to accumulate on foggy days) towards Mission Street in the east, partly because Noe Valley is on higher ground whereas the Inner Mission is at a lower elevation.
History Prior to 1900
The Yelamu Indians inhabited the region that is now known as the Mission District for over 2,000 years. Spanish missionaries arrived in the area during the late 18th century. They found these people living in two villages on Mission Creek. It was here that a Spanish priest named Father Francisco Palóu founded Mission San Francisco de Asis on June 29, 1776. The Mission was moved from the shore of Laguna Dolores to its current location in 1783. Franciscan friars are reported to have used Ohlone slave labor to complete the Mission in 1791. This period marked the beginning of the end of the Yelamu culture. The Indian population
at Mission Dolores dropped from 400 to 50 between 1833 and 1841. Ranchos owned by Spanish-Mexican families such as the Valenciano, Guerrero, Dolores, Bernal, Noé and De Harocontinued in the area, separated from the town of Yerba Buena, later renamed San Francisco (centered around Portsmouth Square) by a two mile wooden plank road (later paved and renamed Mission Street).
The lands around the nearly abandoned mission church became a focal point of raffish attractions including bull and bear fighting, horse racing, baseball and dueling. A famous beer parlor resort known as The Willows was located along Mission Creek just south of 18th Street between Mission Street and San Carlos Street. From 1865 to 1891 a large conservatory and zoo known as Woodward’s Gardens was located along the west side of Mission Street between 13th and 15th Streets. In the decades after the Gold Rush, the town of San Francisco quickly expanded, and the Mission lands were developed and subdivided into housing plots for working class immigrants, largely German, Irish and Italian, and also for industrial uses.
As the city grew in the decades following the Gold Rush, the Mission District became home to the first professional baseball stadium in California, opened in 1868 and known asRecreation Grounds seating 17,000 people which was located at Folsom and 25th Streets, a portion of the grounds remain as present day Garfield Square. Also, in the 20th century, the Mission District was home to two other baseball stadiums, Recreation Park located at 14th and Valencia and Seals Stadium located at 16th and Bryant with both these stadiums being used by the baseball team named after the Mission District known as the Mission Reds and the San Francisco Seals.
During European settlement of the City in the 19th and 20th century, large numbers of Irish and German immigrant workers moved into the area. Development and settlement intensified after the 1906 earthquake, as many displaced businesses and residents moved into the area, making Mission Street a major commercial thoroughfare. In 1926, the Polish Community of San Francisco converted a church on 22nd Street and Shotwell Street and opened its doors as the Polish Club of San Francisco, referred to today as the “Dom Polski”, or Polish Home. The Irish American community made their mark during this time, with notable people like etymologist Peter Tamony calling the Mission home. During the 1940-1960s, large numbers ofMexican immigrants moved into the area, initiating white flight, giving the Mission the Latin character it is known for today. During the 1980s and into the 1990s, the neighborhood received a higher influx of immigrants and refugees from Central and South America fleeing civil wars and political instability at the time. These immigrants brought in many Central American banks and companies which would set up branches, offices, and regional headquarters on Mission Street.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s the Valencia Street corridor had a lively punk night life with several clubs including The Offensive, The Deaf Club and Valencia Tool & Die and the former fire station on 16th Street, called the Compound, sported what was commonly referred to as “the punk mall”, an establishment that catered to punk style and culture. On South Van Ness, Target Video and Damage Magazine were located in a three-story warehouse. The neighborhood was dubbed “the New Bohemia” by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1995.
Since at least the 1980s, a wave of gang affiliation appeared in the Mission. Branches of the Sureño and Norteño gangs settled in and engaged in criminal activities and open violence over territorial boundaries in the neighborhood, northwest and southeast respectively. Also, the notorious international gang MS-13 who was originated in LA,become active at the time. Although during the late 1990s and into the 2000s gang prevention programs, including a 2007 injunction, have attempted to reduce the associated violence from these gangs, these kind of activities still continue to be a persistent problem for the neighborhood, resulting in uncomfortable socio-economic overlaps of a neighborhood in transition.
Following that decade in the late 1990s and into the 2010s, and especially during the dot-com boom, young urban professionals, to twentysomethings and thirtysomethings living thehipster lifestyle moved into the area, initiating gentrification, and raising rent and housing prices, with a number of Latino middle-class families as well as artists moving to the Outer Mission area, or out of the city entirely to the suburbs of East Bay and South Bay area. Despite rising rent and housing prices, many Mexican and Central American immigrants continue to reside in the Mission, although the neighborhood’s high rents and home prices have led to the Latino population dropping by 20% over the last decade. Most recently, the Mission has a reputation of being edgy and artsy.
Landmarks and Features
Street Murals and paintings of Latin American culture by local artists are a common feature and attraction.
There are even a couple very coveted works by Banksy in the Mission valued in the tens of thousands.
Murals of some size adorn almost every block in The Mission. Usually the murals are not tagged by local graffiti artists.
The Mission District’s annual Day of the Dead celebration is not to be missed, Garfield Square. This nighttime parade and celebration now attracts thousands, if not tens of thousands of participants.
The “hot-spot” to be right now in the ‘Mish’ is Dolores Park where mostly young hipsters and members of the gay community congregate to enjoy this beautiful Park. People here are socially and culturally expressing themselves creatively in different ways through clothing, sexuality, politics, music, art, bikes, hair, even shoes. Some of the “hot” things in right now in Dolores are…..
On a beautiful day in Dolores, musicians come together to jam on the bongos and guitar. Local bands sometimes set up their sets and rock out for people to enjoy. Up on “Gay Beach” where most of the gay community likes to congregate, DJ’s set up tables where they spin house and electronic music, getting everyone in the party groove. Down on “Hipster Hill” the Capoeiera Brazilian Martial Arts crew is usually playing their instruments while players kick, jump, and pull out cool break-dancing moves.
Most hipsters in Dolores are avid listeners and blog followers of Indie-Rock bands and the latest hype around Electronic music. Here is some of the music that people here enjoy-
-The Morning Benders
-Kings of Leon
The Mission’s nightlife is alive and full of an eclectic mix of music and local IPA brews. Some of the most popular bars to hit up while visiting are the Elbo Room, Beauty Bar, Thieves Tavern, Delerium, El Rio, The Knockout-real hipsters out here…Some other classic Mission bars-
Mission Hipster Fashion
Here are some of the most popular fashions that are alive in The Mission-
-Skinny and tight jean
-Scruffy hairdues and long mustaches on guys
-Girls with edgy bangs, hair usually long and dark or bleach blonde, very ‘Mod’
-Chrome messenger bag
Although gentrification during the 1990s and 2000s shifted the demographics and culture of the neighborhood, to account for a large younger, more White American, the Mission remains the cultural nexus and epicenter of San Francisco’s, and to a lesser extent, the Bay Area’s Latino, Chicano, Nicaraguan Salvadorian and Guatemalan community. While Mexican, Salvadorian, and other Latin American businesses are pervasive throughout the neighborhood, residences are not evenly distributed. Most of the neighborhood’s Hispanic residents live on the eastern and southern sides. The western and northern sides of the neighborhood are more affluent and less diverse.
The Mission district is also famous and influential for its restaurants. Dozens of Taquerías are located throughout the neighborhood, showcasing a localized styling of Mexican food and is the original home of the San Francisco burrito.There are also a high concentration of Salvadorean, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, restaurants there as well as a large number of street food vendors. In the last couple decades a number of high caliber of multi-ethnic specialty restaurants have gained national attention, most notably the Michelin two-star rated French restaurant Sai’son on Folsom Street. A large number of other restaurants are also popular, including: Mission Chinese Food and Foreign Cinema on Mission Street, Delfina on 18th and Alma, the Slated Door and Luna Park on Valencia.
Due to the existing cultural attractions, less expensive housing and commercial space, and the high density of restaurants and drinking establishments, the Mission is a magnet for young people. An independent arts community also arose and, since the 1990s, the area has been home to the Mission School art movement. Many studios, galleries, performance spaces, and public art projects are located in the Mission, including the Project Artaud, First Exposures, Southern Exposure, Art Explosion Studios, Artist Xchange, Artists’ Television Access, and the oldest, alternative, not-for profit art space in the city of San Francisco, Intersection for the Arts. The Roxie Theater, the oldest continuously-operating movie theater in San Francisco, is host to repertory and independent films as well as local film festivals. Poets, musicians, emcees, and other artists sometimes gather on the southwest corner of the 16th & Mission intersection to perform.
Numerous Latino artistic and cultural institutions are based in the Mission. The Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts, established by Latino artists and activists, is an art space. The local bilingual newspaper, El Tecolote, was founded in 1970. The Mission’s Galería de la Raza, founded by local artists active in el Movimiento (the Chicano civil rights moment), is a nationally recognized arts organization. Late May, the city’s annual Carnaval festival and parade marches down Mission Street. Meant to mimic the festival in Rio de Janeiro, it is held in late May instead of the traditional late February to take advantage of better weather.
Some well-known artists associated with the Mission District include:
- Ricardo Gouveia (a.k.a. “Rigo 23″, painter, sculptor, and muralist)
- Chris Johanson (painter and street artist)
- Xiani Yngojo-Wang (painter, sculptor, and visionary)
- Eth-Noh-Tec, Kinetic Story Theater Eth-Noh-Tec (storytelling kinetic theater)
- Margaret Kilgallen (painter, printmaker, and graffiti artist)
- Barry McGee (a.k.a. “Twist”, painter and graffiti artist)
- Ruby Neri (painter, sculptor, and graffiti artist)
- Michael V. Rios (painter, designer, and muralist)
- Xavier Viramontes (printmaker)
- Scott Williams
- Craig Baldwin (filmmaker, archivist, curator)
- Dori Seda (cartoonist, painter)
- Laurie Toby Edison (photographer)
- Dan Plasma (muralist)
- Whittles Graham (curator and street performer)
- The Hooks (Rock’n’Roll Group)
- Carlos Loarca (painter, muralist)
- Pico Sanchez (painter, printmaker)
The Mission is rich in musical groups and performances. Roving Mariachi bands play in restaurants throughout the district, especially in the restaurants congregated around Valencia and Mission in the northeast portion of the district. Carlos Santanaspent his teenage years in the Mission, graduating from Mission High School in 1965. He has often returned to the neighborhood, including for a live concert with his band Santana that was recorded in 1969, and for the KQEDdocumentary “The Mission” filmed in 1994.
Classical music is heard in the concert hall of the Community Music Center on Capp Street.
Elbo Room, a bar/live music venue on Valencia Street, is home to Dub Mission, a weekly reggae/dub party started in 1996 byDJ Sep and over the years has brought many luminaries of reggae and dub music to perform there.
The Mission District is also very popular for its influencing Hip-Hop/Rap music scene. Record labels like Black N Brown/ Thizz Latin and Hometeam Ent. help put Mission District rappers, like Goldtoes, mousie, Gangsta Flea, Mr. Kee, Friscasso, 10sion, The Goodfelonz, and Don Louis & Colicious, get exposure through various compilations such as 17 Reasons, 18 Wit A Bullet, Organized Crime, Filthy Livin’ In The Mission, The Daily Grind ‘Fillmoe 2 Da Mission,’ and many others. There is a new generation of young and upcoming rappers who are emerging from this neighborhood such as G-One (R.I.P.), Los Da Rockstar, DJ Blaze, Rob Baysicc, Loco C, Young Mix and Yung Dunn to name a few.
Some other prominent musicians and musical personalities include:
- Luscious Jackson (alternative rock)
- Los Mocosos (cutting-edge salsa)
- Faith No More (alternative rock)
- Cesar Ascarrunz (Salsa pianist, impresario, politician, owner of the late Cesar’s Latin Palace dance club)
- The Looters
- Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express (alternative rock)
- Beck (alternative rock)
- Jawbreaker (alternative rock)
Festivals, Parades and Street Fairs
- Carnival The major event of the year occurring each Memorial Day weekend is the Mission’s Carnaval celebration.
- 24th Street Fair In March of each year a street fair is held along the 24th Street corridor.
- San Francisco Food Fair Annually, for several years recently, food trucks and vendor booths have sold food to tens of thousands of people along Folsom Street adjacent to La Cochina on the third weekend in September.
- Cesar Chavez Holiday Parade The second weekend of April is marked by a parade and celebration along 24th Street in honor of Cesar Chavez.
- Transgender and Dyke Marches. On the Fridays and Saturdays of the fourth weekend of June there are major celebrations of the Transgender and Dyke communities located at Dolores Park, followed by a march in the evenings along 18th Streets and Valencia Streets.
- Sunday Streets Twice each year, typically in May and October, Valencia, Harrision and 24th Streets are closed to automobile traffic and opened to pedestrians and bicyclists on Sunday as part of the Sunday Streets program.
- Day of the Dead Each year on November 2, a memorial procession and celebration of the dead occurs on Harrison and 24th Street with a gathering of memorials in Garfield Square.
- First Friday Monthly on the evening of the first Friday, a food and art crawl including a procession of low rider car clubs and samba dancers occurs along 24th Street from Potrero to Mission Streets.
- Open Studios On the first weekend of October, the ArtSpan organization arranges a district wide exhibit of Mission District artists studios.
- Hunky Jesus Contest Annually for 32 years on Easter Sunday the Sister’s of Perpetual Indulgence hold an Easter Sunday celebration including a Hunky Jesus Contest in Dolores Park.
- Rock Make Street Festival Annually for four years the Rock Make organization sponsors a music and arts festival in September on Treat and 18th Streets in the Mission.
- LitCrawl Annually on the third Saturday of October as part of the LitQuake, a literature festival, hundreds of book and poetry readings are held at bars and bookstores throughout the Mission.
- Party on Block 18 The Woman’s Building organization annually, typically in August, has held a street party on 18th Street between Valencia and Guerrero streets.
- Clarion Alley Block Party Eleven years annually, a block party on the Clarion mural alley, fourth weekend in October.
- Remembering 1906 Annually for 105 years there has been a gathering and ceremonial gold repainting ceremony of the fire hydrant located at Church and 20th streets in honor of the only working fire hydrant that allowed the cessation of the fire following the 1906 earth quake.
The neighborhood is served by the BART rail system with stations on Mission Street at 16th Street and 24th Street, by Munibus numbers 9, 12, 14, 14L, 22, 27, 33, 48, 49, 67, and along the western edge by the J Church Muni Metro line, which runs down Church Street and San Jose Avenue.
- 826 Valencia
- Intersection for the Arts
- Southern Exposure (art space)
- Precita Eyes – Mission Mural Project
- Garfield Square – Popular soccer field, swimming pool, playground and annual Day of the Dead shrines.
- Tartine – local bakery
- The Deaf Club
- San Francisco Burrito
- The Redstone Building
- Dolores Park (includes list of neighborhood associations)
About Old S.F. (One our favorite sites here at ExploreSF)
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the San Francisco Public Library in any way.
This site provides an alternative way of browsing the SFPL‘s incredible San Francisco Historical
Photograph Collection. Its goal is to help you discover the history
behind the places you see every day.
And, if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even discover something about San Francisco’s rich past that you never knew before!
Where did these images come from?
The images all come from the San Francisco Public Library’s San Francisco Historical
Photograph Collection. They were culled from many sources, including the
Francisco News-Call Bulletin.
The creators of this site did not collect or digitize any of these images
— credit for that massive undertaking belongs entirely to the
Who built this site?
What did this site do?
The creators of this site associated latitudes and longitudes to the images in
the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection at the San Francisco Public Library, located in the Main Branch on the 6th floor. This process is known as geocoding. Doing this
allows the images to be placed at points on a map, which enables new ways of
exploring this collection.
How were they geocoded?
The geocodes are based on two sources:
- Photo Subjects. All photographs in the “City Hall (old)”
series presumably belong in the same place. We manually geocoded several
- Addresses and Cross-Streets. The photo descriptions often contain
either an address, block number or set of cross-streets. These were
converted to coordinates using the Google
What’s the story of this project?
Several years ago, I searched for my cross-streets
on the Library’s San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection and found the
photo on the right. The image was mislabeled — the intersection in the
foreground is actually Waller and Fillmore, not Waller and Webster. Which
meant that this photo from 1945 was taken from my roof!
I put together a now-and-then
shot, but it always bothered me that the mislabeling of the image was so
crucial to my finding it. This led to the idea of putting the images on a
And now, years later, we have that map!
What fraction of the images have been geocoded?
The library’s collection contains about 40,000 images. Many of these
photographs have little geographic context (e.g. they’re portraits) and
cannot be located. In all, about 20,000 of the images could be placed on a
map. We’ve geocoded about 65% of the possible images: 13,000.
How can you help?
If you’re technically minded, here’s a JSON file containing all the image
descriptions, as well as geocodes for the records on the map (including the
reason I thought they were at that location): records.js.zip (2MB download).
If you improve on my geocoding or do something else interesting with the data,
please share your results!
via About Old S.F..
To see this collection in person or to order reprints please come to The San Francisco Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 Telephone (415) 557-4567, email: email@example.com
The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, located in the San Francisco History Center on the 6th floor, contains photographs and works on paper of San Francisco and California views from 1850 to the present. The Collection is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5 and Saturdays 10-12 & 1-5
Explore the Library’s Geocoded Images On Old S.F.!
- View Digital Images
- Browse Digital Images
- Order Images
- Featured Galleries
- Photo Collection Frequently Asked Questions
- What’s New Online
- September 18, 1935
- Photo ID#
About the Photo Collection
The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection contains photographs and works on papers of San Francisco and California scenes ranging from 1850 to the present. This collection includes views of San Francisco street scenes, buildings, and neighborhoods, as well as photographs of famous San Francisco personalities. The collection consists mostly of the photo morgue of the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, a daily newspaper, ranging from 1920s to 1965. The collection also contains albums, slides, postcards, cabinet cards, stereoviews, and lantern slides of San Francisco and California subjects.
Copies of images may be ordered with the Reproduction of Images Form (PDF 31K). Many of the photographs are available for commercial use when a Permission to Publish Form (PDF 40K) has been submitted.
The collection may be viewed in two ways: through the online database on the San Francisco Public Library website, which contains 40,000 digitized images from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, or in person during photo desk open hours.
When viewing the collection in person, only a limited number of photographs may be examined at one time. Library users will be provided with gloves to wear while examining the photographs. The photographs are to be handled by the edges only and held securely on two sides. The following items are not to be used in contact with the photographs: pressure sensitive tapes, all types of glues, paper clips, elastic bands, staples, pins, pens or pencils. Photocopying of photographs is harmful to the image and is not allowed. Photographs may be reproduced through a photo lab of the Library’s choice, through the Library scanning service or through a scheduled photo shoot. See Order Images for details.
For further information about the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection please call 415-557-4567 during open hours.
- Pedestrian hit, seriously injured by car in S.F. (sfgate.com)
by ann lam
href=”http://youtu.be/oubsaFBUcTc href=”http://sf.untappedcities.com/files/2012/02/IMG_0707.jpg”>Locomotion along downtown Market Street is chaotic, arguably to the point of dysfunctional. Buses and taxis have specially designated lanes, as do bicyclists—except no one adheres to these distinctions. Rather than overhead, traffic lights are located on the far sides of the street, on the border of a driver’s periphery vision. And droves of pedestrians, heading to or from a Muni or BART station, stream across every intersection. To make matters worse, road signs—like the very important STOP—are literally painted on the road, which is often covered by swarms of tourists or moving vehicles invariably in the wrong lane.A short film documenting Market Street in 1906 leads me to believe that “chaotic” is historically characteristic of San Francisco’s main thoroughfare. Shot in one continuous take, from a moving cable car traveling along Market Street toward the Ferry Building, the film (aptly named “A Trip Down Market Street”) shows multiple near-death collisions. Throughout the 12 minutes of footage, automobiles and horse-drawn carriages constantly cut off the moving cable car. Pedestrians casually walk—sometimes even run—directly into the path of oncoming traffic…and barely escape death by flattening. There are, of course, no traffic lights or signs to direct the urban flow. At the time of filming, the DMVwas nonexistent, and there were no regulations regarding who could or could not drive an automobile.
In 1901, California state laws authorized cities and counties to license motor vehicles—running the gamut of carts and bicycles to automobiles. By 1905, the year before the motion picture was filmed, the number of registered vehicles in California totaled 17,015. (The cost of registration was $2.) David Kiehn, Bay Area historian, used details from the film, including license plates and shadows on the ground, to determine that the Miles Brothers film was shot on April 14, 1906, four days before the Great Earthquake. (Prior to Kiehn’s discovery in 2010, the film was believed to have been shot in 1905.)
Over 100 years later, cable cars, automobiles and bicycles still roll along Market Street. (The horses not so much.) And bad driving is as rampant as ever. Some things just don’t change—for better or for worse. Pedestrians, just remember to look both ways before you cross.
- Historic Hubs: San Francisco’s Ferry Building and DC’s Eastern Market (neighborhoodnomad.wordpress.com)
With the coming park closures over the next two years, the playground will be one of the few zones c
On Wednesday, February 29 at Dolores Park Cafe, the Friends of Dolores Park Playground held an organizational and planning meeting for volunteers, donors and supporters to prepare for the Grand Re-Opening of the new playground. Included in the volunteer sign-up sheets was a waiver to enter and tour the playground construction zone that night. A total surprise to everyone, but a few member of the Friends steering committee.
We found an amazing new playground. Twenty adults were let loose on a self-guided tour of all the new play structures and amenities. The Helen Diller Playground at Dolores Park is the nicest and most creative I have ever experienced. This was also the first time most of the group toured the construction site and they all were extremely pleased! We were all giddy with excitement. The new playground is a safe place for kids to take chances.
Without exposing too many details, the boat is back, there are swing sets for all ages, and slides that will blow your mind. A date for the Grand Re-Opening of the new playground is getting confirmed. Yes, Rec and Park is still looking at a date in March. If you would like to volunteer or donate to the event you can get involved here.
Friends of Dolores Park Playground is also hosting a “live” online event where YOU share your favorite photos and memories of the playground. Take us back in time, show everyone some of your favorite moments. If you played here as a child, dig up those old photos too! We love our new playground. CAn you tell?