History of the North Mission SF Neighborhood

I have lived in the North Mission neighborhood of San Francisco for the past ten years and worked here for over 20 years. As a tribute to this diverse immigrant and working class neighborhood, I am creating this blog to celebrate its rich history.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Woodward's Gardens

Not many San Franciscans know that in the later part of the 19th century the North Mission was home to one of the City’s most spectacular parks. It was a combination of zoo, museum and amusement park in a beautiful garden setting near 14th and Mission streets. During its years of operation (1866-1891), thousands of people from all over the area came to visit.
The garden’s founder, Robert B. Woodward, was a businessman who came to San Francisco in 1849 and MORE

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Victoria Theatre

The Victoria Theatre (2961 16th Street @ Capp) was built in 1908 and is one of San Francisco's local landmarks (S.F. Landmark No. 215 in 1996). Previously known as Brown's Opera House, it was a vaudeville house in the early 20th century and later became a burlesque theatre. In the late '70's it was taken over by Robert and Anita Correa who established the Theater Guild of San Francisco under which they presented some famous plays at the Victoria. Now the theatre is mainly rented out to a variety of independent groups for short runs.

Ref.: San Francisco Stages by Dean Goodman

See Victoria Theatre website for more information.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Labor Buildings in the North Mission

There were several labor buildings in the North Mission built in the early 20th century in addition to the Labor Temple (see next post). Here are a few:

- 224 Guerrero Street (near 14th St.): Metal Workers International Hall: Local 104 of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association built this labor hall in 1906, dedicated on December 29. The new "structure displayed craft and glory inside and out with an embossed sheet-metal facade, and ceilings and paneling of metal trim." In addition to its offices upstairs, Local 104 rented its downstairs quarters to a saloon keeper whose bar was happily patronized by the tinsmiths and Building Trades Temple members next door. Over the years Local 104 out grew the hall and moved to Market street. The old Guerrero street hall still stands beautifully today in all its old glory except for its missing emblem, a zinc eagle on a ball, that perched atop the building. The eagle was purchased by the union members sometime after the building was erected as a crowning ornament, a symbol of sheet metal artistry as well as trade union power. After the building was sold in 1979, some members came one night, as the story goes, and took down the eagle from the roof and brought it to its new downtown hall where it was displayed in a fine case within the building. Local 104's Guerrero street hall was designated local Landmark No. 150 by the SF Landmarks Board, the oldest hall especially built to house a trade union in California.
Source: Labor Folklore and Culture, "An Eagle's Tale" by Archie Green

- 200 Guerrero Street@ 14th St.: Building Trades Council Temple: Dedicated April 25, 1908, it housed many unions related to the building trades such as carpenters, painters, iron workers, cement workers, plumbers, plasterers, marble cutters, glass workers, wood, wire and metal lathers, brass and chandelier workers, and many others. This labor hall no longer exists at this site.

- 112 Valencia Street: Home to the Carpenters Hall Association, Auto Mechanics Local No. 1305, Bakery Wagon Drivers Local No. 484, Barbers Local No. 148, and many more.

- 225 Valencia Street: Home to the Railroad Machinists Union Local No. 72 and the Engravers Union Local No. 424, ...

- 229 Valencia Street: Home to the Electrical and Radio Workers B202, ...

- 474 Valencia Street: Now known as Centro del Pueblo and home to many important non-profits serving the Mission district, it formerly housed a variety of unions such as the Scrap Iron Metal Salvage and Waste Materials Union Local No. 965, Hod Carriers, Construction and General Laborers, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Stationery Local No. 39, ...

- 478 Valencia Street: Home to the Teamsters Union Local No. 216 and the Automobile Drivers Union Local No. 960, ...

- 542 Valencia Street: Home to the Cigar Makers Union Local No. 228, Public Works and Unemployed Union, Railway Shop and Maintenance Workers Union Local No. 1, ...

- 3004 16th Street: Home to the International Union of Operating Engineers Local No. 64, Laundry Drivers Local No. 256, ...

- 3009 16th Street: Home to the Locomotive Fireman and Engineers Union, and the Asphalt Pavers Union, ...

- 3053 16th Street: Home to the Sausage Makers Union, Independent Workers Union, ...

- 1886 Mission Street: Home to the Bill Posters Union Local No. 44, ...

The Labor Temple

The North Mission historically has been a center of new immigration, the working class and labor unions. One of the North Mission and San Francisco's premier labor buildings is the old Labor Temple at 2940 16th Street at Capp St. Now known as the Redstone Building it was declared a city landmark in 2001 for its labor history, particularly its role in the 1934 General Strike (link to SF Museum website for information on the Strike at http://www.sfmuseum.net/hist/thursday.html)

See the description below of the Labor Temple's history as written for its landmark report.

The Labor Temple was built in 1914 by the San Francisco Labor Council to be its new headquarters and a center of union activity in San Francisco. There were over 130 member unions in the council at that time. The weekly union newspaper, The Labor Clarion, proclaimed it opened to the public February 26, 1915 with a first page article. The article heralded this “splendid new home of the Labor Council” with its large auditorium and assembly hall, jinks halls, seven lodge halls, and 24 offices. It stated that “the opening of the new Labor Temple will add new life to Sixteenth street, as it will bring thousands of men and women daily into the district who formerly gathered in their headquarters and meetings elsewhere in the city.” MORE

Oldest Building in San Francisco: Mission Dolores

The historical anchor of the North Mission is San Francisco's oldest building, Mission Dolores, now located at the corner of Dolores street and 16th street.

But it did not begin there. If you walk to the intersection of Albion and Camp streets (down 16th street past Guerrero), you will see a plaque noting this location as the original site of the Mission....