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La Lengua, 1907

March 28, 2013

All hail @sf_historian! Last night they tweeted a Calisphere photo of La Lengua, Noe and Twin Peaks as seen from atop Bernal, supposedly 1906. It was taken from above what will become the Esmeralda stairs.


So much here! The old car barn on Valencia & Mission. The Railroad Hotel on Tiffany. The Southern Pacific rail trestles and berms through Noe Valley. Here’s an annotated version (click to zoom)

1907 la lengua from bernal

Some detail, cross-referenced with the 1906 Sanborn maps (via Maptcha and David Rumsey)

Southern Pacific rail trestles and berms crossing 29th and Day Streets, between Dolores and Church:

SPRR rail trestles

The future home of Rock Bar on the corner of Tiffany & 29th:

1907 rock bar

which was built in 1901:

1901 SF Chron - store and boarding house 29th and Tiffany

I’m pretty sure the building with the curved roof is the old Lyceum Theater (now the Safeway parking lot):

1907 Lyceum

We’ve discussed the Lyceum in previous posts, and Bernalwood did a feature on them last week. However, the Lyceum wasn’t built until 1907, so this photo must have been taken after that. In 1905/06, the Safeway block was pretty sparsely populated:

1906 Mission 30th 29th la alteña

The building immediately to the right of the Lyceum is still standing — it’s now La Alteña Taqueria

1907 la altena

which once had a bowling alley!


And in 1910, the cops busted it for being open after hours:

Half of the east side of Tiffany Ave was taken up by the United Railroad car barn (previously Market St. Railroad).

1906 Sanborn Tiffany car barn

The buildings along the 3200 block of Mission Street that backed up onto the car barn are still standing:

1906 3200 block of Mission crop

And the old wall of the car barn is what you see when you eat in the back of Blue Plate!

Here’s a picture of the car barn looking south up Tiffany, via Paul Trimble:

1907 Tiffany car barn

Across the street from the car barn was the “Railroad Hotel”, a 30 room boarding house. Built in the 1880s, it was once known as the “Cable House”, and was torn down in the 1920s.

1907 railroad hotel

Looking through the archives, all sorts of crazy-ass things happened at 24 Tiffany. Seriously, they could have made a reality TV show about it. If you ever time travel and stay at the Railroad Hotel, it’s best to not leave your things out:

1904 24 tiffany

Rather than merely passing out from gas, the “hard drinking” Hugh Lynch mistook his window for the door and fell to his death from the 3rd story of the Railroad Hotel in 1899:

1899 24 tiffany hugh lynch fall out window

In 1906 you could have caught Leah Kleschna stealing your things:

1906 24 tiffany rose carey

In 1894, bartender Thomas McCann shot himself in his room.

1894 24 Tiffany Thomas McCann

Up to 1890 he was an cable car conductor, so I’m sure there’s a story there.

1890 address Thomas McCann

In 1920, Cecil Wave Breck, the 15 year old daughter of residents of 24 Tiffany, ran away with a Canadian electrician to Chicago to become an actress.

1920 cecil wave breck

(Anyone in Chicago want to look up George M. Forest?)

Unsurprisingly, the boarding house was looking for sober cooks and waitresses, and advertised “surprisingly low rent”.

24 tiffany cook low rent

Anyway, let me know in the comments if you find anything else interesting in the photo, like these horses hanging out on the unpaved streets of Bernal Heights:

1907 bernal horses

18 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2013 5:11 pm

    Yay! I was going to dissect that photo for Bernalwood. But you did it for me. Bwaaahahahahaha!

    • March 29, 2013 5:28 pm

      Just keeping you from laying down eminent domain across the liminal zone.

  2. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable permalink
    March 29, 2013 5:26 pm

    Excellent post! I don’t suppose you’ve done any research on the oh-so-awesome 3300 Club bldg?

    • March 29, 2013 5:28 pm

      Thanks! I’ll keep my eyes open. It used to have a cool coney-dome thing on top — I think it was melted down for scrap in WWI. And there are rumors of a Prohibition-era tunnel.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable permalink
      March 29, 2013 5:32 pm

      Yeah, they have some old pictures of the bldg posted in the bar… and the dome is visible in them… However, it does NOT show up in the large picture above, at least as far as I can see? This is surprising, I definitely would have pegged it to pre-1906, architecturally speaking.

    • April 1, 2013 3:17 pm

      Sheila of BHP (who lives on Duncan) has done a ton of research into the 3300. Do they still have the photos up inside the bar? You can go there on Poetry Night and look for Sheila and her husband Jim — he looks like a mellow Santa. Just start talking to them about the 3300 and they will happily talk your ears off.

    • April 1, 2013 3:18 pm

      And BHP also has a pic of the dome on the top of the 3300, but not high-res enough for BJ folks, I fear. It’s from the Bancroft if you want to work your magic!

  3. April 1, 2013 1:16 pm

    Amazing stuff here! Image resolution and my eyesight give out by the block where I grew up, but I think I can make out the house next to where my folks’ is now. Thanks for the timetrip!

  4. April 1, 2013 2:03 pm

    Bear Photo! Where did Bears hang out in 1907?

  5. Diabolical_Dr.Z permalink
    April 4, 2013 3:29 pm

    Our house on Winfield looks identical in this photo. We found horseshoes when we dug out the basement. Wish the “corral” across the street was still there. Now that I think of it we had a neighbor move across the street, she never liked horses but within a few years had become an avid horse lover and moved to half moon bay to be closer to her horse. Are there ghosts of horses past haunting Winfield and influencing neighbors in the area?

  6. April 18, 2013 11:34 am

    This is such a great example of historic research! can we repost this to FoundSF too? with links back, of course…


  1. Time Travel: The View Northwest from Bernal Hill, circa 1907 | Bernalwood
  2. (Portal to the Past) Onondaga and Otsego Avenue | These City Streets
  3. Dolores St Bridge | Burrito Justice
  4. Pizzahacker Attacked by Runaway Streetcar! (in 1907) | Burrito Justice
  5. Violent Tales from Pre-Gentrification Bernal Heights During the Eighties | Bernalwood

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