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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Jul-9-2014

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
Jul-7-2014

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.

EARLY NIMBY-ISM AND ANTI-SPANISH UPROAR
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
Jun-27-2014

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 | 4 comments
Jun-20-2014

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
Jun-16-2014

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
Jun-12-2014

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
Jun-4-2014

Local links: Muni sickout, Surfcraft, new Vietnamese, Yee nearly elected & more


Transit Accident at Euclid & Arguello Boulevard with onlookers | November 17, 1915. Courtesy of SFMTA Archives

Not too many links to share this week, but like a good loaf of bread, we don’t want them to go stale…

  • How are you all handling the MUNI sickout? We’ve seen hoards of waiting passengers at stops in the neighborhood these past few mornings, and one (handsome!) reader tweeted us that he ran home 5.5 miles from his job to avoid it. Leave a comment to let us know.
  • Congrats to the Balboa Theater (which is screening Purple Rain this Sunday night!) for being named among 7 best movie house in the Bay Area by KQED. We could have done without the “just decrepit and seedy enough” descriptor though…
  • Despite his legal troubles and pulling out of the election, Senator Leland Yee STILL received just over 287k votes in yesterday’s election primary for California Secretary of State – enough for a third place finish. We’re gonna chalk to this up to people lazily voting for a name they recognize… Sigh.
  • This outer Richmond District resident is crafting a new kind of surfboard made specifically for bodysurfing. He came up with the idea after his traditional surfboard broke in half.
  • Reader Emily F. tells us that the old Barley Cafe at 343 Clement near 5th Avenue, which closed abruptly after a few months, will soon be taken over by a new Vietnamese restaurant. She chatted with the owners who were on site who told her that “there that will focus on noodle soups and fresh spring roll wraps. They expect to be open by the end of June.”
12:35 pm | Posted under Business, Food, History, Movies, Politics | 15 comments
Apr-18-2014

Looking back at the 1906 earthquake in the Richmond District


A crumbling house at 11th Avenue and California in 1906. Courtesy Bancroft Library

It was 108 years ago today at 5:12am when a massive earthquake struck San Francisco, killing an estimated 3,000 people and destroying nearly 80% of the city. Between 227,000 and 300,000 people were left homeless out of a population of about 410,000. [Wikipedia]

Here in the Richmond District, there was only a small population. People had just started moving to the “Outside Lands” in the 1880s, and much of the neighborhood was still covered in sand dunes.

The unpopulated landscape of the Richmond District proved to be ideal for refugee camps. Camp 25, dotted with hundreds of what would become known as “earthquake shacks”, spanned what is now Park Presidio Boulevard.

Golden Gate Park was the setting for many refugee camps where displaced residents lived in canvas tents. Many of the camps were still in existence long after the quake, with the final one closing in June 1908.

Every year on April 18th, San Francisco commemorates the 1906 earthquake with a ceremony at Lotta’s Fountain, located at the intersection of Market Street, where Geary and Kearny Streets connect. The cast iron fountain served as a meeting point during the earthquake and fire aftermath.

Another commemoration will take place at 20th and Church Streets at 5:40am when a hydrant, that was crucial to fighting the fires in 1906, is re-painted gold.

City celebrations are usually attended by remaining survivors from the 1906 quake, but there are only two left.

One of them, Bill de Monte, celebrated his 108th birthday in January. He won’t be at the ceremony this morning, but he did tape a video message that will be shown.

Sarah B.

Most of the photos in this post are from the Bancroft Library’s stellar online collection of photos of San Francisco post-earthquake. The site includes an interactive map that lets you explore the archives by neighborhood.


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


Kids in Camp 25, one year after the earthquake. 2,400 shacks still remained. Courtesy Bancroft Library.


A crumbling depot building at Geary and Arguello. Today it is OfficeMax. Courtesy Bancroft Library.


The north tower gate of Sutro Heights Park. Courtesy Bancroft Library.


The Martha Kip orphanage at 520 Lake near 7th Avenue. Courtesy Bancroft Library.


One of the refugee encampments in Golden Gate Park. Courtesy Bancroft Library.


Refugees line up for food or supplies in a Golden Gate Park camp. Courtesy Bancroft Library.


The Sweeny Observatory atop Strawberry Hill lay in ruins after the quake. Courtesy Bancroft Library.

5:12 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park, History | 8 comments
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