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Miracle Mile, 1954 Style

May 22, 2012

Look what Mission dweller @fredsharples discovered under his floorboards! A page from a 1954 San Francisco Chronicle:

And a proper, flat scan:

For those new to Mission history, the Miracle Mile was the second biggest shopping and entertainment district after downtown as we can see via the SFPL:



While the Miracle Mile lives on above That’s It sign, the suburban flight of the 1960s changed the neighborhood dramatically, from Irish/Italian to Mexican/Central American. Drastic changes were planned for the Mission in the 1960s, including Embarcadero-style redevelopment and highway running down Capp St. Thankfully we dodged those bullets.

The ad is complete with a list of stores which were pretty easy to cross reference with the 1954 city directory, which happens to have a list of street addresses in numerical order. In the interest of history, I pulled out the relevant business listings and glommed them together. I also pulled them out as text with links to street view for future searchability. Note that the current store listing is purely Googled, so let me know in the comments if it has changed or if I got it totally wrong.

16th – 20th St (2200 – 2300 block)
1954 Address 2012
Senge’s Clothing 2232 Mission next door to Mission Chinese, was Big John’s?
Waxman Furniture 2243 Mission New Starlight Furniture
Gossard’s Lingerie 2312 Mission Shama coffee shop / religious book store?
Wally’s Appliances 2345 Mission Farah Smoke Shop
Siegel’s Clothing (for Dad and Lad) 2366 Mission still Siegels!

20th – 21st St (2400 block)
1954 Address 2012
Globe Shop 2490 Mission Mission Optometry
The Majestic Department Store 2474 Mission torn down? now Los Portales Medical & Dental Center
Juvenile Shope 2484 Mission Dentist office

Things get interesting around 21st, so I pulled out a bunch of consecutive entries and underlined the ones in the ad. This is the block with the New Mission and Crown Theaters.

21st – 22nd St (2500 block)
1954 Address 2012
Byron’s Shoes 2526 Mission Laszlo
Sherman Clay & Co music instruments 2539 Mission Evergreen Market
Knit Kraft Sportswear 2544 Mission boarded up but cool looking buildings between Oasis Vision and New Mission Theater, was “Latin Jewelers”
Kay Jewelers 2548 Mission closed, was Miz Brown’s Feed Bag which shut down in 2004, see Carl Nolte SFGate article
Hale’s Mission Store 2558 Mission Giant Value (which once was Value Giant!) The good Herr Doktor has more.
Crown Gift Sho 2591 Mission Swiss Jewelers

See also: See’s Candies at 2534 Mission, which is now Foreign Cinema!!

New Mission Market was there:

(Mmmm, I’m hungry for some Supreme Ravioli.)

In fact, you just can see it on the right hand side of this 1957 SFPL photo:

I do love that awesome chicken icon and that font:

More detail and some historical tidbits on the 2500 block in their 2005 Business Improvement Plan.

From 22nd St southward, lots of interesting details, so I broke out the second half of the 2600 block.

22nd – 23rd (2600 block) and 24th – 25th (2800)
1954 Address 2012
A.G. Land “The Economizer” 2601 Mission US Bank building
National Dollar Store ($1 in 1954 is worth $8 today) 2610 Mission Anna’s Linens
Crescent Jewelers 2622 Mission Banco Agricole
Scott’s Liquors 2623 Mission Ashley’s Collection
Grayson’s, Inc. 2630 Mission split into Big House and New Mission City
Gensler-Lee Jewelery 2644 Mission Foxy Lady Boutique
Kay’s Ladies Wear 2656 Mission Payless Shoes
Steinberg Shoes 2650 Mission Arik’s
Willoh’s Dept Store 2801 Mission McDonald’s, though you can see the old building in this shot and in Sanborn. Was there until at least 1971.

Hey, the Lucky Pork Store was indeed there since 1949!

Um, OK, I guess they liked pork stores back in the day:

And the Mission Masonic Temple is still there, jammed up next door to the Walgreens.

I’m kind of surprised by how many telephone exchange names there were, much more than just MI-Mission (64x-) and VA-Valencia (82x-). I also see UN-Underhill (86x-), HE-Hemlock (43x-) and AT-Atwater (28x-).

A few more interesting addresses I came across in the 1954 directory:

Bruno’s and Big Beef must have been mortal enemies:

Hey, look, some bars! (Wonder if Anchor had anything to do with Anchor Brewing?) Anyway, neither are bars now.

Hey look, a surf bar! I wonder what that could be today? And 2779 Mission sounds really familiar, and is making me hungry for some mysterious reason.  What could it be? It’s almost as if it will change to another bar in the 60s, and then start serving burritos a few decades later.

I’ve seen a few Ken’s Flowers signs still around. And this is one of the few Mexican restaurants I saw:

By 1954, the railway through the Mission had been shut down for over a decade, and the property largely sold off. With Railroad Grocery and Fruit, we see some historical naming for a property next to the old Southern Pacific line:

Hmm, I wonder what the 2832 Mission, “under construction,” will become? Ah, it looks to be the current site of today’s Rosamunde! Sausage on the tracks!

OK, definitely hungry now.  Comment away!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable permalink
    May 22, 2012 2:31 pm

    This is terrific! Best post in ages!

    Check out this artist’s impression of Hale’s, it would suggest that the building has two full upper floors: I wonder what’s up there now, as Giant Value only uses the ground floor and basement! (Also note that they left out the New Mission Theatre sign!)

    This photo shows the beautiful masonry building Hale’s had there before the modern one was put up in 1951:
    Any idea what that building across the street is, in the current location of Doc’s Clock? It has the arch over the entrance-way similar to Doc’s, but I can’t read the sign. “Varrella’s”, maybe? By 1944 the arch looks more or less exactly like the modern one, but the sign is much too small to read:

    Also, Hale’s electronics was located across the street in the current 12 Galaxies location. See:

    That location also ties into Miz Brown’s, I assume, as in the 80s it was home to “Miz Brown’s Country Kitchen” See:
    (Bonus: Check out Doc’s Clock when it still had the Clock! Also visible in this pic from 1954: )

    Older view of the corner of 22nd & Mission that appears to show the New Mission Market at the right edge of the photo in the 1920s:
    (and from ground level: )

    Trains hadn’t COMPLETELY left the Mission by the 40’s! See:

  2. bvmou permalink
    May 22, 2012 4:07 pm

    Remember a few weeks ago you were wondering about the word “caleta”? I kind of couldn’t place it but now I remember where I know it from: I’ve heard it used to refer to a beach in Acapulco. It’s also a Mexican restaurant on 24th St in 1954!! (Caleta Restaurant, 2785 24th near Bryant)

    Personally my miracle mile has to include 24th St., and anywhere else masa is sold in bulk. Kind of shocking fact: there are no places with “taqueria” or “taco” in the name in ’54 or ’66, but many Mexican restaurants. Some more random ones on 24th:

    Mi Casa (3066 24th, also was a Mi Casa de Paja, “My Straw Hut”, currently El Tepa Taqueria, not sure if related businesses or name copying), El Capricho (3126, now still-Latin Sunrise), Caleta Restaurant (2785 near Bryant, great name), La Palma Mexicatessen (2900, seriously can’t think about this place without mouth watering for tacos de canasta), Mazatlan Restaurant (which became Guadalajara de Noche by 1966 and is now Izalco, 2904), Roosevelt Tamale Parlor (2817. There were like 5-6 tamale restaurants in SF at this time, and many more tamale men from 1885 until 1917 tamalehibition. Re tamalehibition, if anyone can get old examiner articles, this particular one would be hot: “Hot Tamales Street Sale Is Barred by Police,” San Francisco Examiner (July 21, 1917))

    Extremely relatedly, everyone should go read Taco USA by Gustavo Arellano, typical footnote: “A Tamale Tragedy,” Boston Journal (May 31, 1895). The story actually deals with someone who ate too many tamales too fast.

    • May 22, 2012 11:51 pm

      I used to go to St. Peter’s School with the one of the sons of Guadalajara Del Noche. That was a happenin’ joint in the ’70s.
      As for Arellano’s ‘Taco USA,’ he did a reading about San Francisco’s tamale’s past at the Brava Theater last month. I hope you got to see him. I had the pleasure to interview him for El Tecolote over a burrito at El Castillito. That guy knows a lot!

  3. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable permalink
    May 22, 2012 4:34 pm

    Oh man, I typed up a huge reply but wordpress seems to have eaten it. Bummer!

    • May 22, 2012 4:38 pm

      Fret not! WordPress automatically queues a post if there are more than two or three links.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable permalink
      May 22, 2012 4:39 pm

      Oops, I just re-posted it before seeing your response. Please rm the spam!

    • May 22, 2012 4:41 pm

      Thanks for all those links. I’ll integrate them into the post later tonight.

  4. urbanelibertine permalink
    May 22, 2012 9:07 pm

    I scrolled through the photo of the newspaper to see if this was an all-out post, and when I saw all the text, I grabbed another beer. This is all really, really wonderful. I still want every window display to have stickers that tell us all what the building was. How cute would a little Miracle Mile “I used to be a Corset Shop!” icon be!

  5. jonvoss permalink
    May 22, 2012 9:37 pm

    once again, you’ve outdone yourself sir. soon, we’ll have all this recreated with technology and will traverse the tunnels of time…

  6. May 22, 2012 10:09 pm

    Yeah, I can imagine focusing in on a block, hitting play, and watching things change over time.

    • May 23, 2012 3:59 pm

      YES! THIS! Until then, we have your awesome blog…

      The phone numbers are SO cool. I’m assuming MI is Mission, VA maybe Valencha, EX maybe Excelsior? But AT? “Hello, can you connect me with VAlencia 42996? I need some Scotchmallow STAT!”

  7. May 22, 2012 10:20 pm

    Nicely done on the original post and the comments people.

  8. sf1st permalink
    May 25, 2012 3:50 pm

    AT was ATwater.

    Check out these two pages for more prefixes:


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