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Judgemental Map of San Francisco, 1860s edition

April 25, 2014
tags: ,

I’m sure you’ve all seen the Judgemental Maps of San Francisco by now.

SF judgemental map

It’s OK, though not particularly original and a little trite. TK made a ur-version that covers most of it:

(Hey TK, how about Pitchfork-style reviews of maps of San Francisco?)

Anyway, here’s my attempt, but it’s based of the 1861 Langley map of San Francisco (click to zoom).

1861 SF judgemental map yellow text

Zoom and enhance:

1861 SF judgemental map yellow text crop

Thanks to @mizmay, @DnomadB and @bradvertising for helping judge the 1860s.

At some point other that now, I will go through and link to all these references.

Please phrase all comments as if you were posting from the 1860s.

Cistern GIF

April 24, 2014

The cistern bricks on Guerrero and Cumberland (by 19th) really pop with the new pavement.


Panorama from the median (click to embiggen):


And here’s a brick GIF.

sf cistern

And remember, they are much bigger that you’d expect:

inside SFFD water cistern


Gentrifying the Markov Chain

April 23, 2014

Over at 40goingon28, TK critiques Debra Saunders’ latest piece in gentrification and housing, which is surprisingly incoherent. He notes:

“It’s fine to have problems with current SF housing policy, but for fuck’s sake, if you’re going to go public with them, write some coherent arguments down instead of a bunch of disconnected phrases that floated through your head.”

I decided to run Debra’s article through a Markov Chain generator to see if it made any more sense. I think it’s considerably improved! (Here’s a friendly description of Markov Chains for those of you who are not Software-Americans.)

In many ways, San Francisco Fountain is no right to be the East Bay ever since. And if City Hall won’t let retailers give away paper bags. Groups only can, and I walked from out of people on their way to affordability.

The same activists who wear Google glasses – sparse square footage, lots of life is happening now. In the city has been in the fact that for people who killed 8 Washington, voters passed a couple of life is perched, the Board of tech giant had a Union Square store where they are drawn to live in this City Hall can tell you can and fun little stores, but with a condo in the fog belt.

Otherwise, about affordable housing? In many ways, San Francisco has been more livable for people on waterfront development. That leaves the oddly shaped high-rises you know there’d be pricey. But I love the cost of people on the fact that suggests, as headquarters of town. Bring on the construction of Techcrunch wrote a flat in a duplex when it will eventually ruin our neighborhoods, our cities, and demographic changes have to kill the Yuppies whom anarchists hate pay top dollar to send this town thinks Twitter is threatened.

Sometimes I walked from City Hall can tell you know there’d be the Mission is an economic downturn. Kim-Mai Cutler of town. It stank, the project. The grounds could be called squalor. Those Yuppies whom anarchists hate pay top dollar to what the background. And guess what, it’s not Siberia. You still find good coffee, ample parklands, tony eateries and cannot imagine the Board of 30,000 new shelter for San Francisco. Advocates argue that for the background.

And the cost of people who killed 8 Washington, voters passed a museum. It’s a neighbor wants to send this City Hall can and their way to kill the Special City. I don’t think any enlightened policies are outraged, and difficult for owners to rent will eventually ruin our way to make San Francisco serves as I walked from City Hall somehow did approve the Star Trek movies, San Franciscans to live in a neighborhood where residents spruce up or build a neighborhood where residents spruce up or build out. If backers win passage of Supervisors and eliminated, because of would-be San Francisco.

People pay top dollar to make this town thinks Twitter is a city benefits when nurses, teachers, police had a city can make it will eventually ruin our planet. They ignore the construction of tech giant had a condo in 1992, we rented a duplex when nurses, teachers, police had a provocative piece, “How Burrowing Owls Lead to be called squalor.”

Those Yuppies rarely complain until a couple of noise, living in part because if City Hall down Market Street at least by 2020, Mayor Ed Lee dares not oppose Proposition B, it a condo in the left unchecked, it is happening now in a museum. It’s a condo in this loser message: “The Yuppie Eradication Project stage protests to keep the chump who buys a height limit on Treasure Island last year.”

Google barges Problem: There are going to do with fewer panhandlers on waterfront development. That leaves the influx of would-be San Francisco, or build our neighborhoods, our neighborhoods, our way to rent will block high-rise development. Despite his vow to live here, so rent to live in the Board of Starfleet Academy or the construction of tech giant had a museum.

It’s also supports proposals to make this loser message: “The Yuppie dot-com lifestyle must be fought and I don’t think it would hurt for people in the middle class since the affluent than homeowners, do that?” Homeowners.

Let me up or at 8 Washington, voters passed a ballot measure to evict paying tenants. There’s a couple of Supervisors and they’d be endless: No photon torpedoes. Too many techies already.

What about the bay itself to buy, we rented a condo in which I moved to do with your own homes in mind that the East Bay ever since. And that’s OK, because while I walked from all over the fog belt. Otherwise, about the Gold Rush, and keep it more expensive and our neighborhoods, our planet. They ignore the mood was downright eerie. Yet the fog belt.

Otherwise, about affordable housing to live in 1992, we rented a flat in which I moved here in this town. It stank, the Mission Yuppie dot-com lifestyle must be called squalor. Those Yuppies rarely complain until a new homes by 2020, Mayor Ed Lee dares not Siberia.

You still find good coffee, ample parklands, tony eateries and they’d be called squalor. Those Yuppies whom anarchists hate pay $700,000 for a Union Square store where residents spruce up buildings and therefore they have pinched Ess Eff’s housing stock. Cutler also supports proposals to out-of-towners through Airbnb. Then suddenly they have to keep the fog belt.

Otherwise, about the influx of town. Bring on the Board of town. Bring on their way to make it will be some ballot measure to live near what the streets clean. Who is an economic downturn. Kim-Mai Cutler of people who killed 8 Washington are going to live near what the construction of tech giant had a museum.

It’s a Union Square store where residents spruce up or build out. If backers win passage of Starfleet Academy or at dusk with a provocative piece, “How Burrowing Owls Lead to San Francisco,” or build out.

If backers win passage of Supervisors and more market-minded approach to what the cost of Supervisors and Planning Commission approved condominiums at 8 Washington are going to evict paying tenants. There’s a museum. When Apple announced plans to build a duplex when it more affordable housing?

In the Mission is a condo in the chump who are pushing a friend from all over the construction of Proposition B, it would hurt for San Francisco newbies. The same activists who wear Google glasses.

The Bad Characters of Bernal Heights

April 21, 2014

Some question the necessity of La Lengua demanding autonomy from Bernal Heights. This article from the 1884 Daily Alta California should prove the need of our independence (if only because of the keg):

1884 daily alta bernal bad characters

Perhaps young Alfred Lewis was on his way to buy some Bernal-brewed moonshine. Let the 1888 experience of Bernal Heights Ranger Jeremiah Buckley prove a sober warning for such a trap:

1888 daily alta bernal moonshine


All La Lenguan residents should consider this fair warning when traversing Precitaville, as Consular services may not be available.

As to the location of J.T. Graham’s saloon, we suspect a Bernalian disinformation campaign that spreads even to the 1888 city directory level since 27th and Alabama did not intersect in the 1880s.

1888 graham liquors bernal 27th alabama

Here’s an 1880s era map showing 25th, 26th, Serpentine, Precita…

1884 SF Gray Map Bernal

Nor did 27th cross over to Bernal back in 1869.

1869 SF Goddard map Bernal

Or 1859 for that matter:



And the 1886 Sanborn maps don’t make any reference to 27th on the other side of San Jose/Valencia/Mission either:

1886 Sanborn Precita

Could this address deception could be a ploy on the part of Bernalian Hegemony to hide the discovery of gold atop the hill? Or perhaps something more benign, like people just not wanting to call it Precita Avenue? (What we now call Precita Park was called “Bernal Park” when it was carved out of “Precita Place” in 1894.)

As such, we can assume J.T. Graham’s saloon was probably near the location of today’s Precita Park Cafe. Alabama seems to have stopped at Precita Place — unfortunately the 1886 Sanborn maps do not extend east of Alabama or Columbia (which no longer exists…)

Despite the garrulous nature of Bernal residents, it seems that Thomas Graham ran his grocery at the corner of Precita and Alabama for quite some time.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood in 1890 and need a piano, John Graham’s your man:

1890 SF Call Grahams Grocery piano

John was trying to rent out a house in 1891:

SF Call 1891 Grahams Groceries house to rent

Note that “cars” were running down Folsom as early as 1878

1878 SF streetcar maps

…though the Precita streetcar franchise wasn’t granted until 1898. (Thanks @enf.) This 1905 map shows the Precita route.

1905 SF streetcars Bernal Mission

Jumping back, a four-room house rented for $12 a month in 1892:

1892 SF Call Graham house rent

It looks like he owned a fair amount of property in the area, though in this 1898 ad, it is interesting he chose to live on the other end of Alabama St (278 is near 16th…)

1898 SF Call precita, cortland property

(Note the ad for a wonderful investment opportunity in La Lengua at Cortland and Mission.)

In 1905 he was renting out a 5 room cottage for $20 ($510 today, adjusting for inflation). By this time references to 27th were dropped for Precita Ave.

1905 SF Call cottage precita Graham groceries

In 1906, their dog Noodles got lost.

1906 SF Call John Graham lost dog noodles

The reward was about $125 adjusted for inflation (or one-quarter the rent of the 5-room cottage…) Poor Noodles.

That same year, John was looking for help with his stable.

1906 SF Call John Graham

We still see references to Graham’s Grocery in 1910:

1910 SF Call Grahams grocery

The first specific address, 431 Precita, shows up in the city directory in 1900. We can see the building in the 1899/1905 Sanborn Maps — Precita is on the left, Alabama is on the right.

1905 Sanborn 431 Precita

His son. John E. Graham, starts showing up in the 1900 city directory as a clerk.  But by 1915, his father John T. is no longer listed. The long-standing John T Graham company changes hands, and by 1917 it looks like John E. Graham has a different job.

John T Graham John E Graham SF directory

By 1920 there’s a John E Graham at a different address, and in 1921 he’s selling cigars (maybe changing jobs with the coming of Prohibition?) And maybe there’s something happening with the John T Graham Brothers, though I am not sure how that connects to F & W Graham taking things over in 1916…

It turns out Bernalwood inadvertently covered a bit of the history of 431 Precita a few years back.

1928 precita and alabama

But today, 431 Precita is Bernal Bark, something Noodles the dog would have appreciated.

2014 431 Precita

Bikes to Books Tour! May 3, 1-4! Co-hosted by SFBC!

April 17, 2014

Saturday, May 3, 1pm-4pm: Bikes to Books Ride! (co-hosted by the SFBC)

Combining San Francisco history, art, literature, cycling, and urban exploration, this 7.1 mile tour wends its way from Jack London Street to Jack Kerouac, South Park to North Beach. Admittedly not for the faint of heart nor gear, this interactive bike ride is nonetheless a diverting and unique way to celebrate both the literary and the adventurous spirit of San Francisco.

  • Meet at 12:45 p.m. at Jack London Street in South Park
  • Ride will commence at 1 p.m. sharp
  • Ride will end at approximately 4 p.m. in North Beach (outside City Lights Books)
  • Bring bikes with gears, snacks, and enthusiasm
  • Bike ride is free!

You can pick up a map for $5 at the start of the tour, or buy one at any of these fine literary establishments:

  • Adobe Books (24th @ Folsom)
  • Alleycat (24th @ Harrison)
  • Modern Times (24th @ Alabama)
  • Dog Eared Books (Valencia @ 20th)
  • Needles and Pens (16th @ Guerrero)
  • Borderlands (Valencia @ 20th)
  • Viracocha (Valencia @ 20th)
  • Green Arcade (Market @ Gough)
  • Green Apple (Inner Richmond, 6th Ave @ Clement)
  • Paul’s Hat Works (Outer Richmond, Geary @ 25th Ave)
  • Other Avenues (Outer Sunset, Judah @ 44th Ave)
  • City Lights (North Beach, Columbus @ Broadway)

If you are interested in becoming a distributor of these finely crafted maps, ping @enkohl. And if you want a unfolded map suitable for framing, contact @burritojustice.

bikes to books map crop

Things are Brewing in La Lengua

April 14, 2014

Oh dear.

living in la lengua sign

I’m not going to embed the link, for as TK notes:

Oh estate agents, this kind of nonsense is exactly why I made the damn name up in the first place:

la lengua outer mission

This is exactly the kind of thing that drives me to drink, preferably something from the Eagle Brewery which was on that very spot in 1886.

eagle brewery

1886 directory eagle brewery

Big Hole in the Mission

April 9, 2014

When BART was built along Mission St, it was one of the first times a tunnel boring machine was used in America. (The construction history of BART is covered in utterly fascinating detail in this report preserved by Richard Mlyarick.) However, the stations were constructed by digging a giant hole, and then covering it back up. Here’s a photo looking north from 24th in the very 1970s via the esteemed FoundSF.


You can see the Bay View Bank / US Bank building on the right, and the Leed’s / Skechers sign in the background. El Farolito (which at the time was La Conga restaurant, right next to the Smile Awhile tavern) would have been just to the right. Compare and contrast to today:

BART construction 1970, today

Here’s a shot I just took out of a Muni window with a slightly different angle to make it easier to see past the trees:


A quick detour in which we play “what’s that sign“: Jay’s Liquor & Groceries is now painted a lovely shade of blue.

1970 vs 2014 Jay's Liquors

Zoom and enhance!


I can only imagine how that went down.

“Thanks Jay, enjoy your retirement!” [door closes]

“Excellent! Jay is finally gone! Go paint the sign!”

“OK!” [gets blue and white paint]


…oh shit.”

While it doesn’t cover the Mission, this 1968 BART construction video is a classic. Oh the music!

And lest we forget, the epic Streets of San Francisco chase scene through the blue and green-tiled 16th St BART station and tunnels still under construction…

I am sure that during BART station construction people and businesses around 24th & 16th were upset, though I suspect the inconvenience of construction were outweighed by demographic changes and the suburban flight that were already well underway. For example, while Karl’s Shoes didn’t make it past 1972, but John’s Do-Nut & Coffee lasted until at least 1982.

But some people were very unhappy with the thought of how BART would change the neighborhood, as we can read in this classic Basta Ya! article archived by FoundSF decrying the changes that BART would bring to La Raza:

“The San Francisco Planning Department foresees 13,000 to 14,000 new residences in the next 20 years. Look around. Where will they find space to build 14,000 homes? The only place is on top of the home you are living in now.”

(If only they had built 14,000 units…)

“What else do the urban designers forecast? They see Mexican palm trees every 26 feet. An “historic” walkway up 16th to Mission Dolores lined with Taco stands and stores that sell genuine made (on Valencia St.) blankets and souvenirs.

Is Senor Taco the type of urban renewal we want? BART will bring tourists from downtown to 16th and Mission in three minutes. Our homes will become hotel rooms and restaurants and serape stores, and Topless Taco Clubs that do not serve Mexicans.”

To be honest I think a topless taco club might be an OSHA nightmare given the heat of the grill. (Also: do not google “topless taco” by image. Really. Just don’t.)

This early-gentrification piece ignores the fact that the neighborhood was Irish-Italian-Scandinavian before the siren song of the suburbs. But another classic is this 2000 SFBG piece written in the midst of the last dot com boom. Before we get into taquerias, here are some sobering numbers on house prices and rent in the Mission:

“According to a Mission Economic Development Association report, the neighborhood’s median home price jumped from $235,000 in 1997 to $381,000 in 1999, while average monthly rent on a two-bedroom rose from $1,330 to $1,678, and a square foot of office space shot up from $76 to $103 – all much larger jumps than in San Francisco as a whole.”

This claim about anglos getting chased out of taquerias in the early 80s was debunked by those there at the time:

By the way, in 1980, El Farolito was inhabited by a place called El Burrito

1980 el burrito 2779 Mission

And while we’re on the subject, in 1981, proto-Farolito was Manuel’s, and in 1982 it had changed to El Zunzal.

Back to Basta Ya!


“Imagine a line up 24th St. from Potrero to Mission. Continue the line down Mission to 16th St., then up 16th to Mission Dolores Church. This line runs through the Mission community, tying it together. The two BART stations will break up this unity. With or without planning by the city the impact of BART will be to cluster activity around the stations on 24th and Mission and 16th and Mission. The new clusters will cut the community in two.”

This is an interesting point — I am not entirely sure where the “center of gravity” of the Mission was before BART, though given they originally planned a 22nd St station (and before that and Army St station, dammit (never mind 30th St…))

BART plans 22nd st 5427069831_a2eb68a440_b1956 BART proposal 4185134869_6bfd3dd15a_o

(both via Eric Fischer’s transit plan scans)

This of course gets into the future of transit. The recent acquisition of Safeway by Albertson’s got people on my Twitter feed talking about how to better use the massive parking lots. This usually came down to copying the Whole Foods model, with groceries below and apartments above. When BART was thinking about the 30th St infill/pocket station, the La Lengua Safeway parking lot was key in the construction plans.

The obvious conclusion is to convert EVERY Safeway, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in the city to a subway station and connect them with tunnel boring machines. This would quickly create a pleasing and most practical transportation network for San Francisco.

safeway subway

So don your hard hats, put on the reflective vests, and get thee to a tunnel boring machine!

But of course, we all know what the symbol for the new subway would be.



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