20 March 2017

San Francisco's Noe Valley, Then & Now: 20 March 2017

Noe Valley is named after José de Jesús Noé, the last Mexican mayor of Yerba Buena, now known as San Francisco. He owned the land currently known as Noe Valley; he sold the land to John Horner in 1854. 

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 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, located just west of Noe Valley, partly blocks the coastal fog and cold winds from the Pacific Ocean. Noe Valley is, therefore, sunnier and warmer than the surrounding neighborhoods. 

Click on an image to view the full-size photograph.
  THEN  Finding her way across Noe Valley's hills in 1923 was no problem for this young lady. She drove her car from Sanchez Street to Noe Street via a very steep climb up Duncan Street. The picture is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives. 

  NOW  The Duncan Street intersection with Noe Street has been closed to vehicles and is now only open to pedestrians. The house behind the car is still there, and although it was remodeled over the years, the side door on Duncan Street remains. The view is looking north. 

This map shows the location of the Noe Valley District of San Francisco. 

Today, the Muni Metro F‑line's electric streetcars take you from downtown San Francisco, out Market Street, to the Castro neighborhood. Before there were streetcars on Market Street, people traveled from the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco to Castro Street by cable car! And they could continue on the same cable car over the Castro Street hill to Twenty-sixth Street in Noe Valley. 

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 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 fond but distant memories. The little Castro Street neighborhood cable car line was literally and figuratively a long way from today's surviving cable car routes. 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 ran into a tourist on the Castro Street cable line, you could be reasonably confident 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 now a small part of the business district located on Twenty-fourth Street. 

 THEN  This San Francisco Municipal Railway #11-Hoffman streetcar is turning 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 quieter and more peaceful than it was in the clattering, clanging days of the old Municipal Railway #11-Hoffman streetcar. The view is looking north.

THEN, In July 1907, the San Francisco Fire Department chief engineer recommended creating a new fire station near Noe Street. The station was opened in 1910 as Engine #11, and it became Engine #44 in 1916. This photo is circa 1913 and is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives. 

  NOW  The old fire station is now privately owned and is 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. 

 THEN This 1903 photo was taken from Chattanooga Street; the view is looking east down Twenty-second Street towards the Mission District. A Municipal Railway #11-Hoffman streetcar is making its way toward Noe Valley. The picture is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives. 

  NOW  It is just a quiet street. 

THEN  This picture was taken the day after the 18 April 1906 earthquake. One of the approximately 52 fires caused by the earthquake is heading into the Mission District. This picture was taken near Nineteenth Street and Sanchez Street. Almost all of the buildings in this picture were eventually destroyed by the firestorm. 

  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. The oldest remaining cemetery in San Francisco is behind the wall adjacent to the church. 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. 

THEN  This is a view of the two Castro Street cable car barns on Castro Street at the corner of Jersey Street. The picture was taken in August 1921. The Market Street Railway Company abandoned the property in 1941, and it became a Safeway Market in about 1943. In the year 2000, the barn on the left became a Walgreens drugstore, and the site of the barn on the right became a parking lot for Walgreens. The picture is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives. 

  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. 

THEN  This view is from June 1909, and it is looking west along Twenty-fourth Street towards the corner of Diamond Street. A Municipal Railway #11-Hoffman streetcar traveling toward Noe Valley is visible at the top of the hill. Twin Peaks, in the background, remains undeveloped. A portion of Twenty-fourth Street has been paved, but the area around the trolley tracks is still cobblestones. The picture is courtesy of the Noe Valley Archives. 

  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.

 This is a somewhat detailed Google map of the Noe Valley District. 

"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 posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view these photo galleries.

Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with an Olympus 17mm lens was used to take these photographs.

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

02 March 2017

Cypress Lawn Cemetery, Colma, California: 2 March 2017

None of the attractions available to people visiting the San Francisco Bay Area is more unusual than San Francisco's neighbor to its south, the City of ColmaThe city is located at the base of the western slope of San Bruno Mountain and is situated nine miles south of San Francisco. Colma is a necropolis, a city of the dead. 

Within Colma's two square mile boundary are 16 cemeteries. Colma's dead far outnumber its living. According to the City of Colma, the town's current population is between 1,400 and 1,500 people, while the number of interred or cremated bodies in Colma is more than 1.5 million.

Colma was established as a part of San Francisco's urgent attempt to deal with what had been its most enduring social problem since the earliest days of the gold rush, human burial. 

San Francisco is a compact city sited on forty-seven square miles at the tip of a peninsula. The land was more valuable than gold.

By the 1880s, San Francisco officials were enviously eyeing the land occupied by its many cemeteries. The four largest cemeteries in San Francisco were clustered on 60 square blocks in the Western Addition area at the base of Lone MountainCity planners declared that the cemeteries had been put there in error and the land should be used for housing.

San Francisco's Roman Catholic Archdiocese made the first move. On 2 June 1887, after purchasing a 179-acre land parcel in Colma, the Archbishop of San Francisco went to Colma to dedicate a new Roman Catholic burial ground, Holy Cross Cemetery. The establishment of Holy Cross Cemetery altered Colma's landscape forever. 

In 1889, Congregation Sherith Israel, a Jewish synagogue, purchased a 20-acre plot for the Hills of Eternity CemeteryCypress Lawn Memorial Park, a non-sectarian burial ground, opened in 1892. Others followed rapidly. Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery was established in 1896, The Italian Cemetery in 1899, the Japanese Cemetery in 1901, the Serbian Cemetery in 1901, the Greenlawn Cemetery in 1903, Woodlawn Memorial Park in 1904, the Greek Cemetery in 1935, and most recently, the Hoy Sun Ning Yung Cemetery in 1988. 

This gallery of photographs contains images of some of the eighty-seven private mausoleums that now occupy the original forty-seven-acre Cypress Lawn Cemetery site in Colma. Cypress Lawn Cemetery was one of the last grand garden cemeteries built in the West. Garden cemeteries were burial grounds that used landscaping in a park-like setting rather than merely places for graves. 

The forty-seven-acre site became available for burials beginning in 1892. Many of San Francisco's wealthy entrepreneurs from the late 1800s and early 1900s purchased burial sites at Cypress Lawn Cemetery for themselves and their families.

Click on an image to view the full-size photograph.

The grounds of Cypress Lawn Cemetery are approached through this granite portal located on the east side of El Camino Real. The gateway bears the date 1892
This is the burial site of Charles De Young (1845-1880). He was the founding publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle. In 1880 de Young shot mayoral candidate Issac Kalloch, who had defamed de Young's mother, declaring that she ran a house of prostitution. Kalloch's son subsequently stalked de Young and six months later murdered him. A bronze statue marks de Young's internment site, where he is buried with his mother, Amelia de Young (1809-1881). 

This mausoleum is the burial location of Rudolph Spreckels (1872-1958). He was the youngest son of sugar baron Claus Spreckels; he built his sugar, banking, and finance fortune. At the time of his death, he lived in a rented three-room San Mateo apartment. 

This mausoleum contains the bodies of George Hearst (1820-1891), his wife, Phoebe Apperson Hearst (1842-1919), and his son William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). George Hearst acquired his riches by owning numerous Nevada Comstock silver mines and real estate investments. Phoebe Apperson Hearst was a philanthropist. She donated millions of dollars to the development of the University of California, Berkeley. William Randolph Hearst was a billionaire and an only child. At the height of his power, he owned eighteen newspapers, nine magazines, several radio stations, and movie studios. 

This is the mausoleum of William G. Irwin (1843-1914). English-born Irwin purchased the entire Hawaiian island of Lanai and developed one of the most extensive sugar plantations in the world. He moved to San Francisco in 1899. His mansion on Washington Street in San Francisco's Pacific Heights housed the Irwin Memorial Blood Bank.

This mausoleum contains the remains of three generations of Floods. James Clair Flood (1826-1889) was the richest "silver king" who made a fortune in Nevada's Comstock Lode. He also established the Bank of Nevada, the forerunner to Wells Fargo Bank. His house was the only private residence on Nob Hill to survive the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The house is now the location of the Pacific Union Club

This is the burial site for the Bancroft Family. Hubert Howe Bancroft (1832-1918) was a historian. He authored thirty-nine volumes on the history of the West. He amassed sixty-thousand volumes of books which he sold to the University of California, Berkeley. His books are the basis for the Bancroft Library at the University. 

This is the mausoleum for Lillie Hitchcock Coit (1842-1929). She bequeathed one-third of her estate for the beautification of San Francisco, a portion of which was used to build Coit Tower

 This large mausoleum belongs to German-born sugar baron Claus Spreckels (1828-1908). Ten members of his family occupy this mausoleum. His son Adolph Bernard Spreckels (1857-1924) and his son's wife, Alma de Bretteville (1881-1968), are the occupants. His son gifted Golden Gate Park with Spreckels Lake and Spreckels Temple of Music. His wife, Alma, convinced her father-in-law Claus to finance the California Palace of the Legion of Honor as the Spreckels Family rejoinder to the M.H. de Young Museum

This mausoleum belongs to Charles Frederick Crocker (1854-1897). He was the oldest son of the transcontinental railroad builder Charles Crocker and vice president of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The mausoleum, noted for its bronze doors, also contains his wife, his eldest daughter, and his mother-in-law. 

This is the sarcophagus of Louis Philippe Drexler (1836-1899). Sitting on the sarcophagus is the Archangel Michael. He is missing his wings and his greatsword. Both fell and broke as a result of the 1906 earthquake. Born in Virginia, Louis Drexler moved to Nevada, where he made a fortune from mining and real estate investments. Drexler moved to California in 1880, where he subsequently accumulated quite a bit more wealth from his investments in business and mining. He married Elise Alice Kelley Drexler (1866-1951), a woman half his age, late in life. 

These are the twin sarcophagi for William H. Crocker (1861-1937) and his wife, Ethel Crocker. Crocker started the Crocker Bank. He also donated land to the Episcopal Church, where Grace Cathedral now stands. 

This Columbarium was built in 1893. It was one of the first built on the West Coast; there is space in this Columbarium for one-thousand urns. 

Are you interested in learning more about Colma and its cemeteries? If so, I recommend that you consider reading the following:

3. The New York Times published "The Town of Colma, Where San Francisco's Dead Live."

The distance traveled was approximately 5.7 miles (9.1 kilometers). Mile markers are displayed on the GPS-generated track. 

"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 these photo galleries.

Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with an Olympus 17mm lens was used to take these photographs.

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