29 February 2020

The Presidio of San Francisco: February 2020

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This is the Lombard Street entryway to the Presidio.

A map of the Presidio.

This is a photo of the Presidio of San Francisco. The view is looking east, and the southern terminus of the Golden Gate Bridge is visible. The Presidio is California Registered Historical Landmark #79.

The Presidio's Main Post Infantry Row.

The Presidio's Infantry Row.

Presidio's Main Post Infantry Row Plaque.

This 105-foot tall flag pole has a sad historyThe flagpole marks the site where General John J. Pershing, his wife, his three young daughters, and his young son lived in government housing befit a General. Tragedy struck on Friday night, 27 August 1915, when hot coals spilled from the hearth of the fireplace and landed on the highly waxed floor. Flames quickly consumed the house; Mrs. Pershing and her three daughters perished in the fire. Only five-year-old Warren survived, after being rescued from his upstairs bedroom by a soldierGeneral Pershing was temporarily stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas when this tragedy occurred. Mrs. Pershing and her three daughters were buried in Wyoming, the state where Mrs. Pershing was born.  

Warren Pershing (1909-1980) served in the Second World War as an advisor to Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall. He attained the rank of Colonel and had two sons: Richard (1942-1968) and John (1941-1999). Richard Pershing was a Second Lieutenant in the Army who was killed in Vietnam on 17 February 1968. John Pershing attained the rank of Colonel in the Army.

 On 13 January 1914, General John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing (1860-1948) took command of the 8th Infantry Brigade at the Presidio of San Francisco. General Pershing, his wife Frances, and their three daughters and one son lived in this house, which was located near the Main Parade Ground of the Presidio. At that time, tensions were running high on the border of Mexico and the United States. Pancho Villa (1878-1923) was a Mexican revolutionary general who was leading raids against US border communities; he was assassinated in Mexico on 23 July 1923.

The Army sent General Pershing and the men of the 8th Infantry Brigade to Fort Bliss, Texas, with orders to capture or kill Pancho Villa. General Pershing's wife and children continued to reside in the Presidio at this house when General Pershing was transferred to Texas.   

This is the gravesite of Frances Warren Pershing and her three daughters, who are buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Frances was the daughter of  Wyoming Senator Francis Emroy Warren. Senator Warren (1844-1929) was a Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. 

Warren Air Force Base, named in honor of Senator Warren, is located near Cheyenne, Wyoming, and is one of three strategic-missile bases in the US.  

Here is a view of housing on Sergeants' Row. Visible are three Georgian Revival style duplexes constructed in 1931 for non-commissioned officers and their families.

This is another view of Sergeants' Row. These are duplexes built during 1909. They were built when the Army initially provided separate quarters for sergeants, corporals, and their families. Each unit has a living room and kitchen on the first floor and two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. Electric lights were added to each apartment in 1912.

Go Here to read the memories of soldiers who were stationed at the Presidio during the 1960s through the 1970s. Here are additional memories from soldiers stationed at the Presidio from the 1980s to 1995.

     This French 155mm gun (Grande Puissance Filloux) fired a 95-pound projectile that had a maximum range of approximately 10 miles. This gun was in service by the US Coast Artillery during World War II. 

This French 24 Pounder gun was cast in bronze in 1754 for the French Army. The gun was used by Spanish troops during the Spanish-American War. It was captured in 1898 by American forces located in Cuba.

This is a close-up view of the French 24 Pounder gun, which has an embossed message from Major General William Rufus Shafter

Here are the remains of a 150mm Spanish coastal artillery gun designed in the late 19th Century by Salvador Diaz Ordonez. This gun was originally mounted in a Spanish coastal fort at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Undamaged during the Spanish American War, the gun was captured by Filipino nationalists. In September 1899, a combined US Army-Navy force attacked the Filipino positions at Subic Bay. This gun was reported to have been destroyed by shellfire from the American cruiser USS Charleston

Following the war, publisher William Randolph Hearst purchased this Ordonez gun and presented it to the City of San Francisco. In 1973 the City of San Francisco gave the gun to the US Army for display at the Presidio.

Here is a view of the Old Stone Powder Magazine. The US Army constructed it sometime between 1847-1863.

This building was constructed in 1864 during the Civil War. It is now known as the Old Post Hospital and is one of the oldest standing buildings in the Presidio. It was initially known as the Wright Army Hospital. The octagonal structure seen on the right was constructed in 1897 and was initially used as a surgical area. After Letterman Army Hospital opened in 1899, the octagonal structure was used as a dental office.

This is a picture of earthquake shacks located in the southwestern area of San Francisco. The photo was taken in 1907. Today this location is known as the Ocean View Playground. The playground is sited west of the Outer Mission District, between Lobos Street and Montana Street.

The destruction of large sections of San Francisco was due to the 18 April 1916 earthquake and subsequent fires. The earthquake and 52 separate uncontrolled fires burning for three days were catastrophic events that left more than 250,000 people without shelter and caused the deaths of approximately 3,500 people.

Municipal officials faced the prodigious task of rehousing the homeless. James D. Phelan was a US Senator from California when the earthquake occurred. He also served as Mayor of San Francisco from 1897 to 1902. During this emergency, he organized the San Francisco Relief Corporation, which implemented three programs used to help solve the urgent housing problem:

1. Provide a flat grant of 33% of construction costs for rebuilding, which was payable after the building was completed.

2. Provide public housing, constructed on public land, for expected long term occupancy of those who could not afford "market rate" housing.

3. Ensured the construction of 5,610 earthquake refugee shacks that were to be positioned in public parks and squares throughout the city and leased to the homeless. Over 16,000 San Franciscans were in 11 refugee camps which were sited in locations that included Dolores Park, Washington Square, Precita Park, Portsmouth Square, and today's Park-Presidio Boulevard. The intention was to encourage the moving of the shacks to private lots. All rent paid by the occupants was refundable once the shack was relocated. 

The Presidio was considered as a viable housing site during this emergency. Some of the earthquake shacks were located on Presidio land. By the summer of 1908, public lands were cleared of the temporary settlements, and the earthquake shacks were permanently located throughout the city.

Here are two original earthquake refugee shacks that are on display at the Presidio. They are located behind the Old Post Hospital.

This is San Francisco Landmark #171. It is an Earthquake Refugee Shack that was built in 1906. It is now located in San Francisco's Sunset District at 1227 24th Avenue, one block south of Golden Gate Park. This building was constructed by the City Corps of Engineers, commanded by US Army General Adolphus Washington Greeley. The average size of an Earthquake Refugee Shack was 10 x 14 feet. This particular house is a combination of three separate refugee shacks, connected one behind one another.

This is a view of the San Francisco National CemeteryThe cemetery is located within the Presidio military base.

This view is looking south from the Arguello Boulevard entrance to the Presidio. The dome seen on the right, and constructed in 1926, is part of Congregation Emanu-Ela Jewish synagogue that has been at this location since 1850. Visible in the distance are Mount Sutro, the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and Sutro Tower.
"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange

"Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important." Henri Carter-Bresson

"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." Ansel Adams

"The important thing is not the camera but the eye." Alfred Eisenstaedt

The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view those photos.

   A Sony camera was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com