A Brief GIF History of Army Street (and Clooney’s)
By this point anyone who reads this blog has seen the excellent detective work by Bernalwood and Associates on the mystery of the oddly angled apartment on Cesar Chavez:
The esteemed Jonathan Lammers, architechælogist, used the 1938 Aerial Survey of SF to make a giant conceptual leap. The building was moved from across the freakin’ street as so lovingly diagrammed by Bernalwood:
I mean, let’s just stop and look at that diagram for a minute. That is a thing of absolute beauty. And I shall ruin it via GIF! (click to animate). It’s shocking how far back they moved the northern side of Army (click for a slightly wider version).
Given our angular building was only built in 1927 and they widened Army in the 1940s, it makes a lot more sense that it was moved. The two buildings towards the point of the triangle (3390-3398 Army) were considerably older at the time, never mind much smaller, so I suspect they were not considered worth the effort.
As for the old address of the pre-rotated and translated 3365 Cesar Chavez, I believe it is 3370 Army. I have references to 3380 Army being torn down in the 1940s, and a significant number of people are listed as living in 3370 Army in the Polk Crocker-Langely city directories of the 1930s.
You can see 3398 Army (the one on the right, with the nice round cupola and double doors) in the SFPL archive (looking north on Mission, across Army St.)
While I couldn’t find any specific dates or pictures of the widening of Army around Mission, I did find another picture of work on Army on what I think is between Guerrero and Valencia, dated 1949 (via eBay…) Pretty sure this is taken near Guerrero and Army, looking east towards Valencia.
I think you see the top of the Sears Building by the trees.)
It’s pretty much the opposite view of this one (via this older post):
and this one from 1946 via SFPL — you can see the white buildings in the top shot:
I was looking for other highly acute buildings in the Mission to see if our other friends along Army were moved elsewhere, as was Bernalwood reader Joseph:
Could it be that the trapezoidal building on the corner is now clooney’s pub on valencia? i’m not a scientician but it looks like it to me.
OK I’m totally wrong that building is still there and it’s the palace steak house. do smarter people than me know what the deal it with the clooney’s building??
I’d always assumed the angu-tacular Clooney’s was associated with the old Southern Pacific Railway that used to pass through the neighborhood.But upon further research, this is utterly incorrect!
The old SPRR station was on the west side of Valencia — behold another explanatory GIF:
Here’s an overlay of the 1915 Sanborn map that shows the station:
It turns out the turn of the century (19th, that is) predecessor to Clooney’s was a place called O’Reilly’s. You can just barely see the building here in this 1906 photo (via Calisphere) of earthquake survivors gathering around the Valencia St train station, on the right.
If you zoom and enhance, you can actually see what we think is O’Reilly’s sign starting with O’RE… (hat tip to Bernalwood reader WJE).
This is a very different building that today’s Clooney’s — and there’s a possibility that the angular building was dumped ON TOP of O’Reillys.
It turns out that Urbane Libertines and Atrocious Saints is working up a detailed history of Clooney’s, and published the first part just a month ago! Lots of legwork resulting in some epic finds. Lots on the O’Reillys, and their patrons too!
In 1906, shit got real. Not only was San Francisco in the grips of post-earthquake trauma (O’Reilly got his liquor license restored in June), but the railroad depot for the Southen Pacific railroad line was located right across the street from O’Reilly’s saloon, bringing a variety of people down Valencia on the streetcar and from the SP depot at Townsend and 4th. The line cut diagonal across the intersection (coming from what’s now the Synergy School and through the ugly (sorry!) building housing the chiropractic clinic (an oasis amidst the ugly angles) and the Siron Norris gallery (also an oasis, dude).
One night in 1906, a patron was drinking at O’Reilly’s, waiting for his train to head home to Redwood City. Reports go that he had gotten paid for a job on Howard Street earlier that afternoon and had made his way from saloon to saloon, eventually perching himself on the (I’m only imagining) fine-grain walnut stool to drink some spirits with ol’ Jeremiah. Around 2 in the morning (guess he missed his train?), two patrons lured the carpenter outside under the pretense of getting him a hotel, and then on Bartlett street, savagely attacked him, lacerating his face and breaking his shoulder. He limped to nearby Bethany church and got help there. Sounds kind of like Clooney’s right now, minus the train to Redwood City.
It is an epic read, and apparently there is a part two on the way (which covers how the apartments got on top in 1934…)
But more importantly, in 1904, the SF Call tells us that O’Reilly had the misfortune to got robbed by the “worst burglars that have infested the Mission district” — which happened to be two 12 year olds.)
And we will conclude on an inflationary note — in 1904, you could buy two revolvers and ammunition for about $6.80, equivalent to $167 dollars today. Also, “Rimmer & Railton” (hey, free band name) were able to buy revolvers in San Mateo. As 12 year olds.