Arguello Boulevard used to be called 1st Avenue, back in the day. (That makes sense since it’s right next to 2nd Avenue.) The story of how it got its name changed to honor José Darío Argüello a century ago can be found in the SF History Encyclopedia.
Check it, there was an official San Francisco street renaming commission with a sweeping proposal:
“The scheme called for First Avenue to become Arguello, Second Avenue to become Borcia, Third Avenue to become Coronado, continuing for all 26 letters of the alphabet. Starting with Twenty-seventh Avenue, the streets would be designated by male or female saints, starting with San Antonio and ending with Santa Ynez at Forty-Seventh Avenue. Unable to find Spanish saints with names beginning with K, Q, W, X or Z, they chose first Alcatraz, then Ayala for Forty-eighth Avenue and La Playa for Forty-ninth Avenue.”
See? So when you talk about your favorite new restaurant on the 200-block of Clement, just tell your friends the joint is between Borcia and Coronado – they’ll love it.
This cartoon from the ‘Xam certainly is irreverent, borderline snarky:
And The Embarcadero used to be called East Street?
“Lost! Lost in barbarous Mexico”
But the renaming scheme ran into a little blowback from racist NIMBY landed gentry residents and insular neighborhood associations, much as it would today.
“The neighborhood newspaper, The Richmond Banner, editorialized on November 19: “If the wishes of the twelve of our “patriotic” supervisors are carried out, our Sunset and Richmond districts will soon be known as the Spanish Town of San Francisco, and ‘The Spanish will then have taken San Francisco’ notwithstanding Dewey’s victory at Manila Bay several years ago.” The editorial contrasted the twelve who voted for the name changes against the five “true Americans” who resisted the proposal to “Spaniardize” the districts. “The people of Sunset and Richmond are fully aroused and will never submit to the insult and injustice heaped upon them by the majority of the Board of Supervisors.” In closing, the editor pledged, “Sunset and Richmond districts will stand together and fight this miserable surrender of American names to a finish.”
But, as you probably already know, everything got worked out in a Grand Compromise:
“Bowing to the pressure, the Commission agreed that the avenues could remain unchanged except for First Avenue and Forty-ninth Avenueand the alphabetical cross-streets would be the only other western district streets to be renamed, except for the Geary Street extension. The name of Point Lobos was removed from most of the Richmond, but would be given to the curving road that extended from Fortieth Avenue to the Cliff House.”
And here’s the conclusion:
“The street naming of 1909 started with the noblest of motives. It soon took on the atmosphere of a farcical comic opera. The outraged citizenry made exaggerated claims rife with bombastic racism, nationalism and religious partisanship.”
Tags: 1908, 2010, arguello, avenue, avenues, bay area, boulevard, california, commission, district, First, José Argüello, José Darío Argüello, la playa, nimby, nimbys, point lobos, rename, renaming, richmond, San Francisco, street, sunset