Eric Fischer uncovers a rather startling set of mid-60s plans for the what the Mission could (probably not) have been. We’re talking massive infrastructure, along the lines of Embarcadero Center, running the length of Mission from 15th to Army/Cesar Chavez. (click images for originals on Flickr)
Mission and 24th:
Note the walkways across Army/CC…
…to massive, circular parking lots.
I somehow doubt Valencia would have maintained its bicycle friendly charm.
Mission and 16th:
Hey, a kite!
But a piñata tent? WTF are the chairs for? To watch people break piñatas? People pay for that? I’m confused. (I’d totally dig a Lucha libra tent though.)
Some context is in order. This was the “Miracle Mile” — the Mission used to be one of the primary shopping districts in the city (there was a Sears at Mission and Army, after all — that was probably what the second walkway over Army St was for).
Pictures of shoppers on the Mile in the 40s and 50s: (from SFPL, but their image site seems to be down at the moment so I can’t link to the metadata, sorry)
I am sure theses 50s/60s era planners were hoping to stem the flight to the suburbs as the city depopulated around them.
(Anyone know how to constrain the date range for Wolfram Alpha charts?)
This is of course a completely different approach of construction destruction than the post-WWII SF freeway plans that we’ve discussed before — imagine a huge Geary-like trench through the Mission, and a highway on the west slope of Bernal, along Coleridge.
Detailed map below of the Mission Freeway from 30th to 14th (south is up). basically, all the odd-numbered streets except 21st would have been cut off, and the even-numbered streets would have been bridges (think Fillmore over Geary).
I need a drink.
Happier bonus material of a slightly modified past via Eric: a great 1966 picture of 24th and Mission (looking north):
Here’s a bunch of 1950 Sanborn maps jammed together to give you an idea of what the pre-BART 24th and Mission was like. (Click to zoom).
The NE and SW corners of the intersection are obviously gone. The McDonalds took out the SE corner, but the building next to it (Last’s Paints) is still there (now Western Dental / Mr. Pollo), as is the Dance Mission Theater building on the NW corner.
Here’s the 1950 Sanborn overlaid on Google Earth:
Note the stores in the diagonal slot where the railway used to be. Next time you have a sausage and beer at Rosamunde, remember that you are sitting right on the railway tracks.
Speaking of which, a 1926 shot of the guard arms for the active railway crossing (looking north up Mission, just before 24th) :
And a 1945 shot of an apartment fire on 24th between (1) Valencia and (2) Mission (where that big church is now) from a WWII bomber that happened to be flying over the Mission:
Zooming back to the 1950s and 60s version of the corner, we can get an idea of the vibrancy of the mile:
(Sorry for the lack of bars. Older Sanborn maps clearly mark bars/saloons as “Sal.” but it’s weird there are NO bars here. I’m guessing Sanborn never updated the maps to show saloons like they did before the 1920s. Still, a lot happening on the corner…)
Anyway, some great details in the photo:
Tired of your typical, depressing 1960s bar? Sobered by highway and infrastructure planning? Come get a drink at “Smile Awhile Cocktails!”
Hey, that sign sure is a funny shape. Jigjag, jigjag. Just north of 24th. Where have I seen that before?
El Farolito, continuing the tradition of old school Mission signs.
And this concludes today’s lesson in Mission bar and infrastructure history.