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Archive for the ‘History’ Category


Local links: Booze at the Balboa?, Turkey Trot, new iCrepe cafe & more

Magic hour at Marx Meadow in Golden Gate Park. Photo by Vic[tori]a Lesikar

Happy Thursday to everyone! Here are some links to take you into your weekend… Sarah B.

  • Lost Landscapes 7 has just been announced for December 11 at the Castro Theater, and tickets are now on sale. New sequences in this year’s high-definition feast will include the Japanese-American community in the Western Addition before redevelopment; shipwrecks off the Northern shoreline; 1930s demonstrations for China
    Relief; even more scenes of Sutro Baths; family films from the Mission, Richmond, Sunset and Excelsior Districts; rediscovered films of San Francisco transit; and newly discovered, never-shown 35mm documentary
    footage of the Tenderloin and waterfront.
  • Bookworms, this one is for you. The Kittredge School at the corner of 25th and Lake just put out a ‘Little Free Library’ box. Neighbors are invited to take a book – or leave a book, especially a favorite that you think everyone should read. Thanks to reader Smitty for the tip.
  • Run, run run… For those of you looking to burn some calories before conuming the several thousand that are part of Thanksgiving Day, sign up for the Turkey Trot in Golden Gate Park. Sign up for the 3 mile walk or the 5 mile run. They’re already 91% full so don’t wait too long to register!
  • Music to our ears… Music teacher Lisa Mandelstein of Katherine Delmar Burke School recently won a contest put on by lyric tenor Brian Jagde, thanks to this very cute and earnest video submitted by Mandelstein’s student, Mimi, calling Mandelstein “the best music teacher in the Bay Area”. Mandelstein will be a special guest at the Nov. 24 performance of SFOpera’s Tosca, where Bagde will perform. He’ll take Mandelstein to dinner at Jardinière too.
  • Booze at the Balboa? Grubstreet reports that the Balboa Theater is applying for a license to serve wine and beer. If approved, you could be enjoying some swill and a flick by next spring.
  • The Camera Obscura out by the Cliff House was profiled recently on 7×7. “Shaped like a giant camera the size of a one-room cabin, the “camera” allows visitors to step inside and see a 360-degree view of outside.” It’s pretty cool, just be sure to head out there on a clear day or you’ll be hit with a closed sign.
  • Bits and bites… SFWeekly mentioned a new Chinese restaurant, Chili House, that opened at 726 Clement near 8th Avenue. In other food updates, Minh’s Garden Chinese at 208 Clement will soon become Tenglong Chinese (EaterSF.
  • Crepe it up… A new crepes cafe has opened called iCrepe, located at 6909 Geary near 34th Avenue. SFEater reports that the menu highlights include “sweet crepes filled with tiramisu & Lady Finger cookies or cookies ‘n cream ice cream, choco sauce, and a whole Oreo, plus there’s some tasty-sounding savory moves for breakfast (Bacon Egg & Cheese) and lunch (Turkey Avocado & Ranch, Bacon Okonomiyaki & Cheese).
3:25 pm | Posted under Food, History, Movies, Schools | Comments Off

The father of Bay Area Roller Derby at Green Apple this Friday

Roller Derby girls in Life Magazine, 1948

Arcadia Books has released a new local history book about our Roller Derby legacy, co-authored by Jerry Seltzer, the man who brought Roller Derby to the Bay Area.

Roller Derby found a home in the San Francisco Bay Area following its Depression-era Chicago origins. An early television sensation, it faded to a modest existence in Los Angeles during the 1950s. Creator Leo Seltzer turned the game over to his son Jerry, who repositioned the traveling Bay Bombers from their home terrain of San Francisco to Fresno and everywhere in-between. He shined television camera lights on skaters who became the zenith in Roller Derby, including Charlie OConnell, Annis Jensen, Joanie Weston, and more. Syndicated television games seen by millions yielded sellout crowds in every major arena in the country. However, economic and cultural changes closed Roller Derby in 1973. Passionate fans clung tenaciously to its memory. In the 21st century, the game made an astonishing return not only in Northern California but also worldwide.

Bay Area Roller Derby is full of interesting history and fantastic pictures, detailing the rise of the sport here in the Bay Area and the leagues it spurred across the country. At one time it was on 120 television stations in the US and Canada and filled Madison Square Garden, the Oakland Coliseum and Chicago White Sox Park.

Join Seltzer at Green Apple to hear about his adventures as “The Commissioner” of Roller Derby. He has a real legacy in the sport – his father Leo created the sport and first league in Chicago in 1935. Jerry Seltzer assumed ownership of the league in 1959 and ran it until its demise in 1973 (he’s even got a cool blog about the sport).

The event takes place at Green Apple Books (506 Clement) this Friday at 7pm.

Sarah B.

4:51 pm | Posted under Events, History, Sports | Comments Off

Tiles uncovered from 19th century Sutro Heights Conservatory Greenhouse

The Sutro Conservatory Greenhouse building above the Cliff House, 1886

Last Friday, a group of students from Ida B. Wells Continuation High School completed a 3-day archaeological dig that uncovered a portion of the original floor from Adolph Sutro’s Conservatory Greenhouse building [full story on sfgate.com].

The Conservatory building was torn down in 1939, along with Sutro’s family home, after they fell into disrepair. A little history about the building, courtesy of the National Park Service:

The conservatory was an elaborate greenhouse structure built to house Sutro’s collection of climate-sensitive tropical plants. Centrally located on an elevated mound east of the terminus of Palm Avenue, the structure was cruciform in plan, with a central ventilation tower. Built entirely of small glass panels mounted in wood frames, this ornate garden structure was supported by internal wood framing. The interior, which held a lush variety of palms, ferns, tropical flowers, and statuary, provided visitors with an impressive botanical display.

After last week’s excavation, the students found that the blue and white tiles that made up the Conservatory floor were still in pretty good condition, though some were cracked or upended by tree roots.

The activity was a service learning project for the students, and ended with a debate about what to do with the patch of land now that the tiles had been uncovered. Should they remain exposed to the elements so everyone could see them? Or covered back up to preserve them? The students settled on leaving about 30% of the tiled area uncovered.

Thanks to the Ida B. Wells students for bringing back a piece of Sutro Heights’ history! Makes you wonder what else is buried just under the surface of Sutro Heights Park…

Sarah B.

The uncovered tiles from the Sutro Conservatory Greenhouse building. Photo by Beck Diefenbach, The Chronicle

Students clear the ground over the tiles. Photo by Beck Diefenbach, The Chronicle

A close-up of the tiles. Photo by Beck Diefenbach, The Chronicle

2:57 pm | Posted under History, Parks | 9 comments

Video: The story behind the “BIRD” scratched into the sidewalk on 11th Avenue

Our friend Woody at the Western Neighborhoods Project posted a new “History Minute”. This time it’s about a scrawled “BIRD” in the sidewalk on 11th Avenue near Clement. What does it mean? Watch the video to find out.

After you’re done watching, find out more about it on outsidelands.org. You just never know what you’re walking over in this neighborhood… :)

Sarah B.

5:08 am | Posted under History, Video | 3 comments

Lecture on the history of Mountain Lake, Sept. 11

Photo by

Did you know that Mountain Lake (in nearby Mountain Lake Park at 12th Avenue and Lake) is the only remaining natural lake in the city of San Francisco?

Two millennia ago, a small natural depression between the rolling sand dunes in the southwest corner of what is now Presidio National Park became inundated with groundwater and gave rise to a natural water body: Mountain Lake.

On Tuesday night, Liam Reidy, a UC Berkeley Environmental Geographer, will give a talk on the history of the lake – how it was formed, how the environment has changed over time, and how the lake reflects the human impacts of the Spanish, Mexican, and Euro-American occupation of the Presidio.

The event takes place at the Jewish Community Center (3200 California Street at Presidio) on Tuesday, September 11 at 7:30pm. Admission is free for San Francisco Museum & Historical Society members, otherwise it’s $10 for adults and $5 for seniors, students, K-12 teachers, and persons with disabilities.

Sarah B.

7:53 am | Posted under Events, History, Parks | 1 comment

Looking back: San Francisco in the late 1930′s

Another dramatically narrated video tour of old San Francisco has surfaced, which highlights the innovation of the then new Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.

There are some shots of our part of town starting at the 7:00 mark, including the old de Young Museum, a sheep pasture in Golden Gate Park (?), good ol’ buffalo, Lincoln Park, the Legion of Honor, Cliff House and the Great Highway.

“San Francisco by the Golden Gate – city of fond memories and visions of progress for tomorrow.”

Sarah B.

[via Bay Vintage]

12:49 pm | Posted under Golden Gate Park, History, Museums, Ocean Beach, Video | 3 comments

Photos: The great swimming pools of San Francisco

January 1952: Looking down at the Sutro Baths. Salt water flowed in from the sea and the pools
were heated to different temperatures. (Joseph J. Rosenthal / Courtesy of The Chronicle)

The Chronicle’s Peter Hartlaub dipped into the paper’s extensive photo archives this week to highlight the old, great (giant!) pools of San Francisco. There are some great shots of Sutro Baths in there, as well as some impressive shots of the Fleishhacker Pool.

View all the photos at SFGate

Sarah B.

During the demolition of Sutro Baths, late 1966. Courtesy of The SF Chronicle

July 5, 1961: Fleishhacker Pool thrived until the early 1960s. These badass kids are
jumping off high diving platform. Courtesy of The SF Chronicle

3:51 pm | Posted under History, Photos | 4 comments

Local links: Food news, Olympics at the Legion, adult sleepovers & more

A 1938 photo colorized by Christopher Dydyk

Here are some local links to kick off your week!

  • The above photo was colorized by Christopher Dydyk, a fine art photographer here in SF. The original black and white photo was featured in an older article here on the blog. It’s a photo from 1938 of the MUNI streetcar passing in front of the Safeway at 2900 Fulton at 5th Avenue.
  • The Academy of Sciences is holding their Penguins + Pajamas Sleepover for Grownups event on September 21. Enjoy an evening of activities with other 21+ at the Academy, then bunk down for the night next to the penguins, Claude the albino alligator, or the giant California Coast tank. $99 per person for non-members, $79 for members.
  • Olympic fever has hit the Legion of Honor. Their new exhibit “Gifts from the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal” features ancient Greek and Roman coinage, contemporary work from artists including Robert Mapplethorpe, Diane Arbus and Alex Katz, advertising labels, and a variety of sculptures, works on paper, antiquities, and textiles – all celebrating the Olympic ideal. So if you can get up off the couch, head out there to soak in some artistic Olympic homage.
  • Lover of chai tea? Then don’t miss “The Art of Chai with Pawaan Kothari” program at the Conservatory of Flowers on Thursday, August 9. Kothari runs the well-known Chai Cart in San Francisco. “This class provides a deeper understanding of chai – its history and cultural roots, methods of preparation, and how to choose its main components: tea, spices, milk. You will also learn more about what constitutes chatt, Indian street food, as you enjoy a sampling of Kothari’s signature Masala Chai, Rose Chai and a variety of street snacks.” You’ll go home with some ingredients so you can blend at home too. $35 per person; info and registration here
  • In food news last week, Men Oh Tokushima Ramen opened at 5120 Geary and Camp BBQ opened at 4014 Geary, offering diners a chance to grill up their selections. “The idea here is to order small plates of veggies (Asian greens, buttered corn), meat (Kalbi shortrib, ox tongue), chicken, or seafood (scallop, shrimp) ($4-13) to cook in the center of your table.” Oh and s’mores for dessert. EaterSF also reports that Pretty Please Bakeshop will be opening in a former boutique space at 291 3rd Avenue.
  • The 9 hole, par-3 Golden Gate Park golf course may be taken over by new management, if Rec & Park can get the Board of Supervisors to approve a new vendor this fall. But The Examiner reports that long-timers there aren’t thrilled with the potential change. “But the entire situation has its skeptics. Many golfers worry the course will be overrun by beginners, maintenance will suffer and regulars will be pushed out.”
11:16 am | Posted under Events, Food, Golden Gate Park, History | 4 comments