Grand boulevards and ornate gardens slicing through the Mission

That strip of parkland between Mission Street and South Van Ness was gonna be called “Mission Arcade.” And the one running east-west was “Mission Parkway.” And how helpful would those diagonals be when biking from Dear Mom to El Rio??

Bernalwood dug this up; here’s the story:

A few weeks ago, I took Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter to visit the new Exploratorium. While we were there, we wandered down a long hallway and into the Bay Observatory Gallery at the northeast corner of the museum. And in the Bay Observatory Gallery, we found a very cool collection of maps [...]

[T]he Cub Reporter was fascinated with a map visualization created by the amazing Eric Fischer (which quite speaks well of her).

Simultaneously, your Bernalwood editor was intrigued by a map of an ambitious redevelopment plan that envisioned San Francisco as a kind of Paris by the Bay, with grand boulevards and ornate gardens slicing through our familiar street grid.

Read on for a bunch more maps and history.

Now let’s rock out:

Cool old picture of the Roxie

[via The Roxie on Tumblr]

Vintage tamale-in-a-can ad

Looks delectable!

[via Lucky Peach]

Cool photo of the old Doggie Diner at Mission and Army

Bernalwood reports:

Doggie Diner was a chain of fast food restaurants scattered around the Bay Area. The franchise enjoyed its heyday during a mid-1960s expansion, during which it installed rotating doggie-head mascots above each of its 30 or so restaurants. The doggie-heads became iconic in San Francisco, even after the Doggie Diner chain shut down for good in 1986.

Read on for more history and more photos.

A journey into the Mission’s past, via ancient restaurant menus

Mission Local dug through the SF Public Library’s archives and found a handful of ancient menus from long-gone eras here in the Mission. Imagine a time when Bruno’s was an actual Italian restaurant!

Read on for all the rest.

San Francisco 10 or 12 years ago

Local thirtysomething David Enos recalls a bygone era:

It’s been jarring to notice that nearly all of the local landmarks of my 20’s have disappeared.  They weren’t meant to last into this new era; even back then their appeal was in how surprising it was to find them.  Action Camera, CALA foods, The Video Cafe, the upstairs room at the Edinburgh Castle, Musee Mecanique at the Cliff House, Johnny Appleseed’s, Nap’s, Petra Cafe, Irving 5 & 10, the 100 Van Ness building, Koko’s Cocktails, Video Zone, Into Video, Salvation Army on Sutter, Indian copy and printing place on 16th and Guerrero, mysterious corner store run by lone elderly woman on Guerrero and 17th, Adobe Books, Stacy’s Books, Kayo Books, Borders, Tower Records, the Gold Dust, Ace Cafe, the Red Vic, Lumiere, Alexandria, Coronet and Bridge theaters. [link]

Yeah dude I’ll always miss those amazing bloody marys at Nap’s, and I was way bummed when they shuttered that Borders to make room for Zeitgeist.

But at least we’ve got that great short film about the Ace Cafe, and the 100 Van Ness TV series (and zine).

[Image © 2010 Microcosm Publishing]

Probably the most delightful family photo ever taken in San Francisco

18th and Castro Eureka, 1989.  And just look at those amazing pants!  They’re really giving the Full House crew a run for their money.


Says one of my fave SF artists Matt Furie:

That’s artist Aiyana Udesen on the far right with her mom, bro and uncle

[Via Betty Udesen]

The ghoulish men of the Van Ness corridor

Local anthropologist David Enos tells us about the Van Ness that exists just north of the Mission. It is very nearby yet seems worlds away:

Van Ness.  The ghoulish men of the Van Ness corridor wear clothing styles usually seen only in action programs on the USA Network: long fried hair, wraparound shades, windbreakers with the sleeves cut off, skin roasted to a crisp by the afternoon sun.  They resemble criminals from The Simpsons.  They are ready to rumble.  Get in their way and they will snarl as though they were filming a WWF promo about your upcoming grudge match.

Read on for lots more insight.

[Photo by local street photographer David Enos]

Back in 2008, when there were great deals all over town

Local historian David Enos, recalling days gone by:

I remember back in 2008, right after the economic collapse, there were great deals all over town.  The Onion was always doing free drink nights at various bars, and there was a “nudist’s society” event where older naked people talked on a stage into a feeding-back mic about their nude lifestyles.  Guests averted their eyes and poured free beers from a keg across the room.  “For me it’s about being free, and accepting that I…want to be nude.”  All the lights were on in the room.  I almost ruined my then-new relationship that night, by forgetting to include her and generally not being attentive. Irritated on the way home, she asked, “Is this what you and your friends do, get off on looking at naked freaks and getting wasted?”

Read on for the dramatic conclusion, and some advice. And by all means attend this event on Friday featuring artwork by Enos — and free admission and free drinks:

Mission 1906

You’ve probably seen the panoramic photos of downtown and South of Market that George Lawrence took by kite immediately after the earthquake and fire of 1906. (all via the Library of Congress):

I’d never seen this one though — it was taken above Twin Peaks, looking towards downtown and the Mission. (At 2000 feet, Lawrence’s kite was about as high as Sutro Tower is today.)

Zoom in on the Mission:

Zoom and enhance:

The fire swept mercilessly into the Mission before it was halted at 20th St, thanks to the magic Golden Hydrant.

Here’s what 20th & Valencia looked like on the ground:

More shots available at OldSF.

Here’s how much of the city burned.

As the fire swept into the Mission, things were not looking good.

Engine 27 was joined by Engine 19 as they responded to the magic hydrant. Or rather, they tried to. Their exhausted horses were unable to muster enough strength to pull the massive Metropolitan steam engines up Dolores Street.

The refugees in the park, seeing this, responded themselves – by the hundreds. Hands pulled ropes as shoulders pushed forward, propelling the magnificent steamers up to Twentieth Street. Now, firefighters could make their stand, but the firefighters were few and exhausted, and nobody knew how long the water would hold out.

Again the volunteers, under the direction of the firefighters, went to work. The line was to be drawn on Twentieth Street.  Buildings to the North were torn down to slow the conflagration and deprive it of fuel. On the South side, the alarm was raised as citizens prepared to defend their property and that of others.

When the advancing inferno reached the Twentieth Street line, over 3000 civilians and a handful of firefighters stood shoulder to shoulder to meet it. The fight was described as “Hell itself”.

The titanic battle lasted seven hours.

Hoses were used.  Mops and buckets were used. Behind the fireline, homeowners were on their roofs beating out sparks and small fires with blankets, mops, casks of wine - anything that could be used. Doors from the demolished houses were used as heat shields until they too began to smolder. Exhausted firefighters would drop in their tracks, as volunteers took to their lines.  Nurses moved through, administering stimulants. Through the night, the fight raged.

As dawn approached, the flames began to subside.  By 7:00 AM on Saturday, the fight was over, the flames gone. With the exception of some small pier fires, the nightmare was over. Rebuilding could begin tomorrow, but today was for savoring the effort – and the victory.

Think of that next time you’re drinking PBR at Dolores Park.