Along with the nearby neighborhood of Corona Heights, Noe Valley was a rock quarry site until 1914. Noe Valley was primarily developed at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, especially in the years after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
The neighborhood contains numerous examples of Victorian and Edwardian residential architecture for which San Francisco is famous. One of Noe Valley's attractions is that Twin Peaks mountain, which is just west of Noe Valley, partly blocks the coastal fog and cold winds that blow in from the Pacific Ocean. Noe Valley is, therefore, sunnier and warmer than the surrounding neighborhoods.
|This map shows the location of the Noe Valley District of San Francisco.|
From 1883 until the great earthquake and fire of 1906, cable cars ran on Market Street and Castro Street. After the quake, speedier electric streetcars took over those old Market Street cable car routes, except for the Castro Street route from Eighteenth Street to Twenty-sixth Street. That isolated stretch of Castro Street was too steep for streetcars, and it continued as a quiet neighborhood cable car line. Noe Valley residents took the cable car to reach the Muni Metro 8-line streetcar near the Castro Theater at Market Street, to continue their commute to downtown.
The Castro cable car line lasted until 1941, when it was replaced by an extension of the MUNI 24-Divisadero bus line. Cable cars on Castro Street are now just a fond but distant memory. The little Castro Street neighborhood cable car line was literally and figuratively a long way from today’s surviving cable car routes. Even before World War II, the Powell Street and California Street cable car lines carried many tourists and visitors to the city and received all the publicity. If you run into a tourist on the Castro Street cable line, you could be fairly certain that he or she was simply lost.
|THEN A Castro Street cable car heading south on Castro Street at the intersection of Twenty-fourth Street. This photo is circa the 1930s; and is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives.|
|NOW It appears that almost all, if not all, of the buildings visible in the above THEN photo are still standing in 2017. The Castro cable cars were removed from service in 1941 and were replaced by buses.|
|THEN The corner of Twenty-fourth Street and Church Street was the center of the business district in Noe Valley when this picture was taken in 1878. The view is looking southwest. The picture is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives.|
|NOW The corner of Twenty-fourth Street and Church Street is just a small part of the business district located on Twenty-fourth Street.|
|THEN This San Francisco Municipal Railway #11-Hoffman streetcar is making a turn from Twenty-second Street to Chattanooga Street. This line was operational from 1948 to 1983. The picture is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives.|
|NOW The street is much quieter and peaceful than it was in the clattering, clanging days of the old Municipal Railway #11-Hoffman streetcar. The view is looking north.|
|NOW The old fire station is now privately owned and is being used as a home. The view is looking north.|
|THEN Around the turn of the century, New Twin Peaks Fruit Market was located in this Italianate mixed-use building at the corner of Twenty-third Street and Douglass Street. The picture is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives.|
|NOW The building is still standing, and the grocery store has been replaced by an apartment. The view is looking southeast.|
|NOW It is just a quiet street.|
| NOW All is well. This picture was taken from Sanchez Street at Nineteenth Street. The view is looking northeast. |
|THEN This is a view of Mission Delores Church. The picture was taken in 1865; the church is the oldest standing building in San Francisco. |
|NOW The original Mission Delores Church is on the left. Behind the wall adjacent to the sidewalk is the oldest remaining cemetery in San Francisco. The view is looking southwest.|
|THEN A lively group of young people has gathered at the corner of Castro Street and Valley Street, circa 1919. At that time, the last block of Valley Street remained unpaved. The picture is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives.|
|NOW None of the buildings visible in 1919 appear to be standing in 2017. The view is looking west.|
|THEN The Noe Valley Branch Library was the seventh branch library established in San Francisco. Using a grant provided by Andrew Carnegie, the City of San Francisco built the Noe Valley Branch Library as a two-story building with a Spanish-style facade of brick and terra cotta. The architect was John W. Reid Jr. The library was opened for use on 17 September 1916 at the cost of $45,499, including furnishings. This picture is circa 1917. Thank you, Andrew Carnegie!|
|NOW The library was renovated between 2007 and 2008. The branch received the Governor's Historic Preservation Award for the renovation. The library is located on Jersey Street between Castro Street and Diamond Street. The view is looking south.|
|THEN This picture was taken in 1926; the view is from Noe Street looking west, up Thirtieth Street. The last block of Thirtieth Street has not yet been paved.|
|NOW Some of the houses standing in 1926 are still sited on Thirtieth Street.|
|THEN Passengers alight from the Castro Street cable car at the end of the line, the turntable at Twenty-sixth Street and Castro Street. This photo is circa the 1930s; and is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives.|
|NOW There is nary a hint that this location was the site of a cable car turntable. The view is looking east.|
|NOW Walgreens drugstore and its parking lot. The view is looking northeast.|
|THEN A northbound Castro Street cable car passes Twenty-third Street as it climbs out of Noe Valley. The Castro Street cable car line ceased operation in 1941. This photo is circa the 1930s; and is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives.|
| NOW Most of the buildings that existed on this block in the 1930s are still present today. This view is looking south. |
| NOW The building that housed the bakery in 1909 is gone. So too are the trolley tracks, and Twin Peaks is covered with residences. The view is looking west. |
San Francisco’s Noe Valley by Bill Yenne was an excellent resource for preparing this gallery of photographs.
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