History

Frilly werewolf

Christine Beatty is Not Your Average American Girl

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LIT "When you've lived so far like I have," Christine Beatty's wry voice came crackling through the phone as she drove to Las Vegas to play the slots, "you sometimes just have to catch your eye in the rearview mirror and laugh. I've led such a charmed life, really."Read more »

Period Piece: Palou Avenue

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Guardian history writer Lucy Schiller is exploring the city street-by-street in the slow week inter-holiday weekends. Today, learn about Junipero Serra's right-hand man who now has a Bayview street named after him. Click here for yesterday's installment on Laguna and McAllister Streets.

 

Palou AvenueRead more »

Period Piece: Laguna and McAllister Streets sense

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Guardian history writer Lucy Schiller is exploring the city street-by-street in the slow week inter-holiday weekends. Today, learn about the laundry pool of Laguna Street and the bravery of Matthew Hall McAllister. Click here for yesterday's installment on Green and Gilbert Streets.

 

Laguna Street

Named for Washerwoman’s LagoonRead more »

Period Piece: Green and Gilbert Streets sense

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Guardian history writer Lucy Schiller is exploring the city street-by-street in the slow week inter-holiday weekends. Today, learn about a newspaper editor that died in a duel and a ghost from Philadelphia. Click here for yesterday's installment on Brannan Street and Geary Boulevard. Read more »

Period Piece: Brannan Street sense (and Geary Boulevard, too)

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Guardian history writer Lucy Schiller is exploring the city street-by-street in the slow week inter-holiday weekends. Today, learn about Samuel Brannan's shipment of Mormons to San Francisco and John Geary side jobs (which include governor of Philadelphia). Click here for yesterday's installment on Baker Street. Read more »

Period Piece: Baker Street sense

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Guardian history writer Lucy A. Schiller is examining SF's history corner by corner this week -- in this piece, the murder in Baker Street's torrid past

It should come as no surprise that many of San Francisco’s streets are named for old white men. After all, many financially successful California pioneers were just that (occasionally minus the “old”). But the figures referenced by San Franciscan alleys, thoroughfares, boulevards, and avenues do hold some insight into the city’s past. The picture of 19th century San Francisco painted by its street names is a wildly weird one. Common themes: lawlessness, violence, sometimes ugly individualism, and the occasional progressive value.

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Period Piece: A walk in the (man-made) woods

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It’s easy to get a little romantic standing in a beam of filtered sunlight inside Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve. The 61-acre expanse of ivy and eucalyptus feels like a remnant of an earlier, wilder San Francisco. 

But the densely tangled forest backing UCSF’s medical campus is actually man-made. It harkens back to the heyday of good old Adolph Sutro, bathman, silver magnate, and forest enthusiast. Sutro covered the mountain on his sandy property with many of the trees standing today. Read more »

Period Piece: The saga of the California turkey

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“The wild turkey…is a finer representative of America than the eagle,” boldly stated the Chronicle in a 1909 five-paragraph ode to the noble fowl. Maybe for the rest of the country, but not for California, where wild turkeys were introduced from – get this – Mexico in 1877. 

So is it really our bird if it’s not native to the state? An ex-judge in Illinois had a lot to say on the matter.

John Dean Caton, who penned such classics as The Origin of a Small Race of Turkeys actually sent live young turkeys to California, turkeys he had raised himself from eggs found in his rural Illinois backyard. Read more »

Period Piece: A fight we won

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As steadfast Occupiers confront growing police and official opposition comparisons to historical protest movements are cropping up. 

San Francisco, of course, has been home to more than a few spirited speeches, many of which have resulted in real protest-driven change. Local protests here have long been loci of larger nationwide movements. One cool example: the freeway revolt movement, a national pushback against the autofication of cities in the 1960s and '70s which reached its peak in San Francisco in the fight against the Western Freeway. Read more »

Period Piece: Duels to death on the shores of Lake Merced

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Leaving aside the wanton killing, there was something charming about olden-style justice. Back in the day, a political figure could draft a nasty note that ended with  “your obedient servant,” pass it off to some friends to deliver to a sworn enemy, and wait for his duel to the death to be scheduled. 

It’s probably good those days are over. Bay Area pacifists have two men to thank for the cessation of formalized murder: Senator David Broderick and Judge David Terry – who were probably not the original frenemies, but certainly early bearers of the standard. The two ensured the end of legal dueling with their fatal 1859 clash on the banks of Lake Merced. Read more »