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Archive for the ‘History’ Category


WNP History Minute: Army camps and race tracks in the early Richmond District

Did you know that the Richmond District was the stop-over point for troops on their way to the Philippines during the Spanish-American War? And that their camp was in the middle of a race track that was in the inner Richmond? Check out the latest history minute above from Western Neighborhoods Project to get the scoop!

Sarah B.

11:15 am | Posted under History, Video | Add comments

Photos: A dying relic – Sutro Baths just before demolition (and fire) in 1966

Sutro Baths, 1966. Photo by Suki Hill

Our neighborhood historians at the Western Neighborhoods Project shared a link to some interesting old photos of Sutro Baths, just before it was demolished in 1966. The plan was to build high-rise apartments on the land.

The demolition never took place because a large fire broke out at Sutro Baths on June 26, 1966 (video). All the structures on the property burned to the ground.

See the full collection of Sutro Baths photos here (plus a few of Playland)

The photos were taken by late photographer Suki Hill, who passed away in June. According to her website, she “photographed subjects ranging from the streets of Paris to portraits of rock stars, authors, painters, musicians and the rich and famous, but her favorite subjects were the people of her community – their celebrations, events, gatherings, work – in short, their lives.”

Sarah B.

Sutro Baths, 1966. Photo by Suki Hill

Sutro Baths, 1966. Photo by Suki Hill

Sutro Baths, 1966. Photo by Suki Hill

9:58 am | Posted under History, Photos | Add comments

Photo: Old “Connie’s Market” sign uncovered at 5211 Geary

Photo by Ed P.

Two readers emailed us about the “Connie’s Market” sign that was uncovered at 5211 Geary near 16th Avenue. The wash and dry there has been closed for awhile and it appears renovations are underway.

According to the SF Department of Building inspection, the property is undergoing a change in use from a laundromat to an office with some bathroom remodeling thrown in.

Reader Ed P. says he recalls that Connie’s was the only market on Geary in the 1970′s between 15th and 18th Avenues.

We couldn’t find much else on ol’ Connie’s. If you have some memories, leave a comment to let us know.

Sarah B.

10:37 am | Posted under History | 26 comments

Looking back: Distressing street name changes; 1924 Ocean Beach roadhouse

View original image

We love our neighborhood history, so here’s a couple of interesting items for you…

@SF_Historian shared the above photo last week of a very grand 1924 roadhouse that was located on the northeast corner of Balboa near the Great Highway. It was called the Pacific Ocean House Ocean Beach Pavilion (among many other names) and you can see another photo of it here.

The Western Neighborhoods Project has written quite a bit on the roadhouses of the Great Highway and outer Richmond, which were popular destinations for drinking, dining and cavorting. Last year they even discovered some roadhouse architecture buried in the floorboards of a building on La Playa.

If you think NIMBYism is “new” to San Francisco, you’d be wrong (if you’re not familiar with the term it stands for “Not In My BackYard!”). It dates back at least as far as 1909 when there was uproar over proposed street name changes in the Richmond and Sunset Districts.

Chronicle columnist Gary Kamiya covered the controversy in his recent article Spanish street names upset Sunset, Richmond residents, detailing a time when residents feared that some proposed street name changes might “result in their neighborhood being renamed “Spanishtown” or “Dagoville.””

It was a complicated issue which eventually resulted in First Avenue becoming Arguello Boulevard and 49th Avenue becoming La Playa, plus A, B, and C Streets becoming Anza, Balboa and Cabrillo. There were additional street names changes in the Sunset District.

But that was after some severe anti-Spanish sentiments like this quote from a newspaper editorial: “What do we want with Spanish names, anyhow? Why, only the other day they shot a man there for speaking out the truth, and they have been the most cruel, tyrannical race in Europe.” Get the full story at SFGate.com

Sarah B.

11:21 am | Posted under History | 8 comments

Video from 48 years ago: Sutro Baths burns to the ground

Yesterday, the Western Neighborhoods Project posted video from the final moments of Sutro Baths when it burned down on June 26, 1966. The old 8mm film was transfered to DVD and provided to WNP by one of their members, Mark Adams. Joel Springer, who shot the footage, was known for chasing and filming many fires in San Francisco.

Sutro Baths was no longer in operation in 1966, and its swimming days were long behind it. Before its closure to the public in 1964, it had morphed into an ice-skating rink.

At the time of the fire, the buildings were in the process of being demolished in anticipation of the development of high-rise apartments and. After the fire, the city abandoned those plans.

Sarah B.

11:21 am | Posted under History | 5 comments

Local links: Beach Chalet, Marla Bakery opens, Sushi Wako, tree planting & more

Inside the new Marla Bakery on outer Balboa

Happy Friday to everyone! Here are some local links to dance you into the weekend…

  • Marla Bakery is finally open at 3619 Balboa near 37th Avenue. The Chronicle says it “will be open as a cafe all day and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner most weeknights, and brunch weekends, along with a Sunday supper that will happen at one long table, with a prix-fixe menu and wine pairings.” Stop in and welcome them to the neighborhood!
  • Just when you thought the debate over the artificial turf fields at Beach Chalet was done… In the upcoming November election, it’s likely that voters will be faced with two dueling ballot measures. One from a group of environmentalists, neighbors and others that want to prohibit artificial turf and field lights at Beach Chalet, and another measure from the city that is designed to override the opponents’ measure. The opponents of the fields have until July 7 to get the 9,702 valid signatures they need to qualify for the ballot.
  • Friends of the Urban Forest are planning another tree planting event in the Richmond District in August. If you’re interested in planting a tree in front of your property, the deadline to apply is July 16. Get all the details here
  • A new sushi spot is open at 211 Clement Street called Sushi Wako. They remodeled a former sushi spot and expanded into the space next door, resulting in a lovely rebuild. According to their website, Wako, which means “Japanese Fragrance” was started by two chef buddies. Reviews on Yelp so far are very good with one reviewer writing, “I have a feeling this place is going to be packed once the word gets out. So shhh…keep it down.” Oops, sorry. :)
  • Into Playland history? Author James Smith, whose latest book “San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach: The Golden Years” recently came out, will be speaking at the Sunset Branch Library (1305 18th Avenue) next Tuesday, June 24 at 7pm. Smith will speak and show photos from his latest book which is an illustrated history of the much-loved park from 1940 until its closing in 1972. We’ve got the book, it’s snazzy.
  • There’s a poignant piece about a duck needing a mate at Mountain Lake Park. “But duck does not live by bread alone. Duck should not, in fact and in the natural state of things, live alone. And Musco is all alone. I am on a one-woman campaign to find him a Muscovy mate.”
5:03 am | Posted under Food, Golden Gate Park, History, Politics, Shopping | Add comments

Photo: California Street, 1908

Raised Frame Houses on California Street Between 17th and 18th Avenues | July 20, 1908. Courtesy of SFMTA Archives

The Western Neighborhoods Project sent this pic our way. It shows California Street near 17th Avenue in 1908, just two years after the big quake.

The structure in the foreground of the photo is an Earthquake Refugee Cottage or “earthquake shack” as they’re often called. Some residents re-purposed them into homes after they were used to house quake refugees between 1906 and 1908 at camps throughout the city. This one was probably moved from the Camp 25 (Camp Richmond) refugee camp that spanned Park Presidio (photo below).

Now if we could figure out if this is looking east or west, we’d post a “today” photo to compare it to… [Update: John Freeman confirmed the photo is looking east, so photo from today is posted below]

Sarah B.

The “today” shot looking east on California at 18th Avenue. Wonder if those are the
same utility poles that were there in the 1908 photo?

Camp 25 located along what is now Park Presidio Boulevard. Courtesy Bancroft Library.

9:40 am | Posted under History, Photos | 8 comments

Local links: Sisters in crime, a coyote lady, Green Apple, historic video & more

Photo by Tony Jameson

Happy Thursday to everyone! Here are some local updates to get you to Friday…

  • At Sunday Streets last weekend on the Great Highway, a group tried to break the Guinness World Record for the longest skate chain. They didn’t succeed but it made for some good photos :)
  • The two sisters that were arrested this week on allegations of operating a sex-trafficking ring in the Richmond District were released on $50,000 bail. They have been charged with seven counts of pimping, seven counts of pandering, one count of conspiracy to pimp and one count of conspiracy to pander after allegedly operating brothels at 385 Seventh Ave. and 4719 Geary Blvd. They are due to be arraigned on Friday. [SF Chronicle]
  • We see coyotes frequently in the Richmond District, and one San Francisco woman has taken it upon herself to study and photograph them. “I do it because I love coyotes and want to dispel myths about them,” Kessler said. “I want to help people understand how we can coexist peacefully with these beautiful animals.” She’s also produced videos to educate people on how to get along with coyotes.
  • The Tidy Shoppe at 4050 Geary is offering new makeup classes. The first one on June 26 from 7-9pm is focused on “smokey eyes” and features instruction from Cindy Chan. The cost is $40 and you bring your own makeup. Sign up via their Facebook page or call 668-4050.
  • Green Apple Books will open their second location on 9th Avenue in the Inner Sunset on August 1. Get all the details here including a look at the logo for the new store.
  • Speaking of Green Apple, owner Pete Mulvihill met a new “pal” at a recent event in NYC:

  • We don’t think we’ll ever “get” this business, or understand how they even STAY in business, but they continue to attract media attention. A journalist for Vice magazine paid a visit to the face-slapping masseuses at 14th Avenue and Geary. “The routine was like a bit from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers World Tour Live on Stage—but considering I was in a place where beauty-conscious people pay big bucks to get slapped in the face, how could I expect anything else?” Definitely one of the more bizarre pieces we’ve read this year.
  • Prelinger Archives found some unseen footage of Ocean Beach and Playland from 1942-43. In it you can see the Lurline Pier stretching out into the ocean, which was the intake pipe for pumping saltwater to the old Lurline Baths and Olympic Club pools downtown.

11:22 am | Posted under Crime, History, Video, Wildlife | 5 comments