Posts Tagged ‘1908’

Remembering the Time When “South San Francisco” was Actually In San Francisco – The Bayview’s “Avenues, South”

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

This H. A. Candrian map from 1909 (on display at 100 Van Ness) shows no respect for the then-new City of South San Francisco (founded 1908) - you know, that town that used to be called “Baden” that’s about five miles to the south.

I say that because the Bayview / Hunters Point area is clearly marked “South San Francisco.”

See all those “avenues south” (both actual and planned)? They perished in the Great Renaming of 1909. Check it: 

“There were three sets of numerical streets. First through Thirty-first streets ran from downtown into the Mission District. The growing Richmond and Sunset Districts had First through Forty-ninth avenues. The Bayview District had a similar list of avenues, First through Forty-fifth, which were suffixed as “Avenue, South.” In a pre-zip code era, these variations in designations for numbered or lettered byways just added to the other street name confusion in the city. The Post Office estimated that 500 letters a day were mishandled due to the problem of street names in San Francisco.”

Click to expand

Of course these streets are labelled alphabetically now, but not without a pitched battle at City Hall:

“When the dust cleared, and the final vote was taken on December 21, the commission did placate the priests by naming one street for Padre Palou (instead of Payne), another for Charles Carroll(instead of Cromwell), and a third for the California historian Hubert Howe Bancroft (instead of Belfast, the Protestant city in North Ireland), although Bancroft was still living. The north-south streets in the Bayview were lettered “A” Street, South, through “T” Street, South, with the letter O omitted. These were renamed using mostly prominent San Francisco pioneers, but met with no protest. Two non-pioneers’ names were chosen: Colonel George H. Mendell, who was responsible for laying out much of the coastal defense system and had just recently died, and William Keith, the popular California artist, the only other living person to have a street named in his honor.”

Thank goodness we don’t argue over street names anymore…

The Reason Why Arguello Isn’t Called First Avenue, Plus Bloggish Snark from a Century Ago, Plus NIMBYs!

Monday, September 13th, 2010

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.”

O.K. then.

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.”

Same As It Ever Was

Cougar vs. Bear – The Eternal Struggle at 8th Avenue Entrance of Golden Gate Park

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

The is the scene at Golden Gate Park‘s Brown Gate near 8th Avenue and Fulton – it’s Bear vs. Cougar in soft metal. Actually, the everyday meanings of both these words have changed over the century since these sculptures went up, so how about Brown Bear vs. Mountain Lion instead?

(San Francisco has more people bears and people cougars than ever. Oh well.)  

Bear has the reach but Cougar appears to want it more.

“We were playing Cat and Bear, you know, and Cat was chasing me and I ran panicked over logs and through streams, you know, maddened with primal terror, you know, and I turned and raked my deadly claws against his howling snout, you know, and I rose to my hind feet, towering, and still bellowing he came, and I mewled and spewed gore from my wounds and snot from my flaring wild maw and… and… and we were locked like lovers and, and, and, and I was encircled by spotted feline bodies and my entrails were hanging out and I tried a savage feral roar but, alas, my force was spent.”

Look for them the next time you pass by on the #5 Fulton.