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Fire the Fourth

September 18, 2014

Yesterday on, @brockwinstead and I spoke of many things, including the fire of September 17, 1850, one of the six fires that hit San Francisco in the space of a year and a half.

1850 sept 17 fire headline

Side note: good news! You can now subscribe to Burrito Justice Radio via RSS!

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Here’s a rough map of the affected area today.

1850 Sept 17 fire 2014

Here’s a GIF of the 1853 Survey Map (more on that over at Pastmapper) — caveat emptor, this was surveyed in 1851-1852, after another TWO fires had taken place..

1850 Sept 17 fire

The fire burned up to the brick walls of the Daily Alta itself.

1850 sept 17 fire daily alta building

Here’s the famous shot from Portsmouth Square in 1851, looking across Washington St. at that survivor, the Daily Alta building.


I’ve started making a rough map of what burned over on Mapbox. Red is what burned, blue is what survived, and yellow is what got torn down.

1850 sept 17 fire

It’s a work in progress. The map doesn’t have the granularity or metadata I need to realistically keep track of what was where. Also, they didn’t exactly record the street address numbers with any great gusto. (I get the impression not all streets had actual numbered addresss at this point.)

1850 sf directory alta

Also, people are not exactly listed in alphabetic order within letters.

1850 sf directory M

Anyway, during the fire some of these people were a little too focused on rescuing their goods, in this case gunpowder:

1850 fire gunpowder

And in addition to the play by play of the fire’s path, the Daily Alta also published fascinating list of all the businesses lost. Here’s just a sample:

1850 sept 17 fire sf business lost

One of these days I’ll get this info embedded in a slippy map.

If this fourth fire was too much for you and you wanted to get out of San Francisco before it burned down twice more, here were some of your options:

1850 cost of passage panama nyc

A first class fare to NYC, adjusted for inflation, was about $10,000. If you wanted to slum it in steerage, you’d only have to shell out $5,000. Getting to Portland would have run you $1200. More on ocean transportation of that era over here.

La Lenguahenge

September 14, 2014

Or perhaps Duncanhenge.


Seriously though, while I probably should have waited a few weeks for the sun to hit Diamond Heights, this shit is hard with @karlthefog so cut me some slack.


Bicycles in the Sky (Valencia Street Skycycle)

September 10, 2014
tags: ,

Hooray! According to Bernalwood, a raised bikeway is coming Valencia Street!


Well, about 551 feet of it. (image via Bernalwood)


This is part of the Mission/Valencia Gateway project. From the SFBC:

San Francisco is set to get its first raised bikeway next year! The showcase bikeway is part of the Mission/Valencia Gateway project and will stretch southbound on Valencia Street from Cesar Chavez Street to Duncan Street. This one-block bikeway heralds a completely new type of bicycle infrastructure to our city, one that will become more common in the next few years, as raised bikeways are integrated into the Masonic Avenue and 2nd Street projects.

Raised bikeways are common in great bicycling cities like Copenhagen, but relatively new in the United States. Raised bikeways create a protected bikeway without bollards or barriers, instead building the bikeway at an intermediate level between the sidewalk and roadway.Learn more about raised bikeways and see designs here.

The raised bikeway is an unexpected but very welcome enhancement to the Mission Valencia Green Gateway project, which wrapped up public outreach last year after three community open houses as well as feedback from hundreds of neighbors and SF Bicycle Coalition members. In addition to the raised bikeway, the final project design also includes wider sidewalks, permeable pavement and two new plazas, one at Mission and Valencia and a smaller one at Duncan and Valencia.

Hooray! Though @TheRealWBTC thought it was a bit different:

Had the mid-twentieth century had its way, this might have been! A 1956 proto-BART proposal had an elevated train running down Valencia Street! This would have obviously been abandoned and converted into a High Line West at some point. Behold the Valencia Skycycle!

valencia bike skyway

Of course, the Raised Bikeway is just an intermediary step towards the glory that is Valencia St Park!

valencia street park flip

New York Burrito

August 20, 2014
tags: , ,

A New York burrito. (via @sjiang, one of our undercover agents)

new york burrito

No pizza in San Francisco is this bad.

This “burrito” contravenes all known protocols and traditions. Also, it is incredibly dangerous to compromise the structural integrity of a burrito by removing the foil. A properly wrapped burrito is about 70-80 PSI, and by defoiling the burrito you are taking your very life in your hands.

Therefore, for the safety of New York City and its boroughs, we are arming the Burrito Railgun and disengaging the humanitarian safeties.

burrito rail gun launch

Take cover, Manhattan, for a we shall met a fiery rain of al pastor upon the unworthy, inbound at 29,000 mph.

burrito rail gun hunters point





July 11, 2014

Did anyone else notice a giant burrito floating over Bernal around lunch?


Bigger question: is this related to Star Trek IV?

Or is it more along the lines of


Hopefully they will not proclaim


Jesus Sutro

June 30, 2014


Jesus via @cartdawg, Sutro via Wikipedia.


June 11, 2014

Today’s guest on Burrito Justice Radio on was none other than @seismogenic, an anthropomorphic friend who is a newly minted seismologist with the USGS down in Menlo Park. If you want to hear about

  • SF, LA and Imperial Valley faults
  • earthquake forecasting, prediction and early warning
  • SF geology
  • chert
  • serpentine
  • some really good earthquake music (seriously)

…here’s the replay link. (And if you like what you hear, why not make a donation?)


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