Van Ness Avenue and Polk Street History

In 1849, William Eddy extended the land division of San Francisco to Larkin Street, replicating street and block dimensions created by earlier surveys of Jean Vioget and Jasper O’Farrell. The Western Addition, as the sand dunes and chaparral west of Larkin were called, was subsequently surveyed by several private groups before the city-sponsored Van Ness Survey was completed in the mid-1850’s. Originally known as Marlette Street, the centerpiece of this extended survey was re-named in honor of Mayor James Van Ness. Situated in the valley between Nob and Russian Hills and Pacific Heights, Van Ness Avenue was intended to be city’s central north-south spine. Consequently, the survey shaved off parts of the blocks on both sides of Van Ness to create a 125 foot wide avenue.

1861 Western Addition Map 1855 James Van Ness SF Mayor 1857 Black Point and South Map

Despite grand hopes for the new Boulevard, development of properties along the avenue was slow and the U.S. Coast Survey of 1869 indicated only scattered structures. This may have been due to Polk Street having become the main north south commercial road west of downtown. Polk was between where San Francisco ended at Larkin up to 1849 and Marquette, which became Van Ness. Polk's early rise to prominence west of Nob and Russian Hill may have been partly to it being more level than either Larkin to East or Van Ness to West. However, it also was blocked by the same towering sand bank, which ran from west end of Lombard ridge before Polk along north side of what became Lombard to the Presidio. Van Ness would also have been blocked by this sand bank. However Larkin was not, as it crossed the Lombard ridge at a higher elevation, providing the midblock path west between Lombard and Greenwich to Lombard Ridge cottages built in the late 1870's, after the Larkin horse car from Clay cable car after 1873.

1870's Lombard Greenwich NW over Washerwoman's Lagoon/Sand Bank 1880 Pacific Height NE to Lombard Sand Bank and Black Point

In the 1860’s, Van Ness began at Market Street and terminated at the U.S. military reserve at Black Point, probably cleared of the sand bank blockage 30 years before Polk, since it was on level of elevation of trail to Presidio rather than at higher Polk/Lombard elevation. Since principal growth corridors radiated out from downtown, it was a long time before cross-town streets such as Van Ness would become important arteries. The 1884 Coast and Geodetic Survey shows buildings concentrated along intersecting streets with cable car lines such as Fulton, McAllister, Ellis and Geary. Throughout this period, Polk rather than Van Ness, was principal commercial street of the mid-city, for people on Nob and Russian Hills and new settlements west. The width of Van Ness, like that of Market Street, may have discouraged its use as a shopping street.

1869 N San francisco Map 1878 Bancroft San Francisco Map

From 1873-1890 ten electric cable or street car lines were built over Nob and Russian Hills or off Market that crossed Polk and Van Ness to destinations further West. That greatly expanded both residential building in new Western Addition, roughly from Larkin west to Presidio and south almost to Market. Polk still dominated commerce, but east west streets such as Geary and Union began some commercial enclaves along north-south Fillmore and Divisidero to west of Polk-Van Ness adding shops and commercial businesses by end of 1800's.

1890 San Francisco Cable and Electric Streetcar Lines 1873 Aerial View looking Southwest at San Francisco

As opposed to the heterogeneous development of Van Ness in the twentieth century, the nineteenth century land pattern primarily consisted of wooden dwelling units. While lower Van Ness Avenue was soon occupied by dense working class housing, the middle and upper reaches of the avenue became characterized by wealthy residences. Aside from homes, the only large buildings shown on the 1899-1905 Sanborn Maps were the Mechanics Library, Concordia Club, St. Lukes Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church and St. Dunstan’s Hotel. Livery stables, small industries, a school and other miscellaneous uses were located on side streets.

1870's St. Luke's van Ness Pacific East, 1890's St. Luke's Van Ness Clay E,Van Ness Sutter S St. Dunstan's, Concordia, St. Mary's (r)

1891 Van Ness NW Geary concordia Club, St. Luke's rear,.................................................... 1890's Van Ness 1201 Post Hecht

1893 Van Ness Post N Parade, .............................1906 Van Ness W Eddy Tait's,....................................1900 San Francisco Buildings

1880 Van Ness Market Statue,.......................................1915 Masonic Temple Van Ness W 100 Then/Now,..............1906 Burned Area

Industrialization of Rincon Hill caused by the Second Street Cut of 1869 combined with and shortage of available land on Nob Hill as populace moved north and west. This encouraged development of a new high-income neighborhood, and Van Ness Avenue became a logical choice, stimulated by proximity to downtown, availability of undeveloped parcels, and access to cable car lines. Furthermore, in the mid-1870’s a row of Eucalyptus trees was planted along each side, contributing to its park-like ambience. For similar reasons, large houses were also constructed on Franklin Street, a block west.

1860's 2nd St. South before Cut,....................... 1869 2nd St. Cut,......................94 Polk Cut Lombard to Greenwich,........1890 Polk Lombard N

Van Ness basic land use pattern continued until 1906. Italianate homes were constructed during the 1870’s and 1880’s and followed by large Queen Anne residences in the 1890’s. Prominent families who owned homes on Van Ness included the Spreckels, Crockers and Gianninis. The earthquake and fire of that year destroyed most of San Francisco and would likely have gone on to burn Pacific Heights had it not been for the great width of Van Ness, a natural fire break. During the first day of the fire soldiers attempted fire breaks further east, all of which proved unsuccessful. They tried again at Van Ness on the second day, dynamiting every building on its east side south of Filbert Street, containing most of the fire and saving the Western Addition.

1890's Spreckels Mansion Van Ness Clay,................1907 Spreckels Mansion after 1906 Fire

1900's Van Ness Mansions. Stetson at Clay...................Hobart and Ashe Washington..................................................Thompson Pine

The area between Sutter and Washington Streets was not contained until Franklin Street, and the area south of Golden Gate Avenue was not contained until Octavia Street. This latter area west of Civic Center was location of greatest single property loss of the 1906 cataclysm. I came to know the history of St. Ignatius College Prep (SI) in San Francisco, during our son's high school year's at SI's very distant Sunset campus, first time they were much more than neighborhood walking distance from schools, church , scouts or playgrounds.

St. Ignatius Cathedral and College Prep: Van Ness between Grove and Hayes: Decorated for McKinley Parade 1901, Ruins after 1906 Fire, 1890's

SI started life at same Market St location where Emporium ended life. By the end of 1800's SI was on Van Ness where Davies Hall now stands. SI school labs were instrumental in development and testing of first electric arc street light west of Mississippi. It was appropriately installed in front of their great cathedral on Van Ness. As fires of 1906 swept across Van Ness, all was destroyed, including loss of probably best library in the West. There may have been a few more valuable properties lost during 1906 earthquake and fire, but all had fire insurance, which is partly why the wonderful Sanborn lot and structure maps were updated every few years and today provide a remarkable picture of the City's growth. SI was self insured and the biggest loser from the fire. It took them decades to recover, as they abandoned Van Ness for Stanyan and Laurel Hill cemeteries before, spinning off what is now University of San Francisco, and later retreating further south and west to their exquisite campus on Sunset.

Immediately after the fire, burned out businesses from the downtown moved to either Van Ness Avenue or Fillmore Street. Surviving mansions on the west side of Van Ness were converted into stores, and temporary commercial buildings were quickly constructed on east side of Van Ness. The city’s major department stores — City of Paris, the White House, and the Emporium — all located here, as did the Bank of California and the Anglo California Bank. Others opened temporary stores on Fillmore until downtown was rebuilt.

1906 Cit of Paris in Holbart mansion near Washington, Shoppers on Van Ness, Emporium at Hecht home near Post

1900 Calvary SW Corner Union Square, 1900 SW Corner Union Square Then and Now, 1905+ Calvary at Fillmore NW Jackson

 

Our Calvary Presbyterian had moved a few years before 1906, brick by brick, from where St. Francis is now on Union Square to its location since at Jackson - Fillmore, some might think by Divine Providence. Our former congregation St. Luke's as well as old First Presbyterian on east side of Van Ness and other downtown churches didn't have much Divine Providence as they were all destroyed by fire and mostly moved further west, although St. Mary's was rebuilt and Trinity moved further up California as Grace Cathedral on site of destroyed Crocker mansion. On Van Ness St. Luke's rebuilt and Old First Presbyterian may have rebuilt the 1911 photo above. St. Luke's may be helped along to this day by preschool that both our sons attend near the end of Mrs. Dunbar's nearly forty year reign as head. Old First may still be helped along with revenues from adjacent properties which are now Bank America and garage parking lots.

1880's St. Luke's Pacific St.,..........1906 St. Luke's Van Ness Clay, Now,..............Old First Presbyterian Van Ness SE Sacramento

1904 Van Ness McAllister Mercantile Library, Golden Gate Hughson Standard,..1911 US Tire 636..................1915 Used Cars

By 1909, however, the rejuvenation of the downtown district led to the exodus of businesses from Van Ness and the second transformation of the avenue’s land use pattern emerged in less than three years. Far from returning to its earlier history as a residential boulevard, development along the lower and middle sections of Van Ness consisted of residential, commercial, industrial as well as institutional uses. The 1911 Sanborn Map illustrates the heterogeneous uses, including auto body, wagon and bicycle repair shops, as well as numerous undeveloped sites.

A National Guard Armory was located at the southeast corner of California Street, while clubs and hotels were scattered along the mid section such as Concordia Argonaut two who's early prominent member Sloss and Gerstle families had mansions further south on Van Ness. Concordia's long history, across Van Ness from Jack Tar to Cathedral to now work in progress of new CPMC, ends at 2014 end, when Art Academy takes over as new owner.

1891 St. Mary.s Used Cars, Tommy's...St.Mary's Geary N Van Etta....Now Jack Tar, Cathedral Hole....................Next CPMC

Fortunately elegant old and beautifully spacious club house we have so enjoyed in recent years will continue to exist, unlike other icons the ever changing Van Ness skyline changes with many of old auto row grand salons become multiscreen cinemas. Others are razed are removed for much bigger and taller structures some of which like Towers are also remarkably grand and beautiful. Art Academy is known for acquiring but most preserving the many properties they acquire, including two other Van Ness landmarks further north: St. Brigit's church at Broadway and French Dodge Plymouth auto showroom at 1835 Van Ness. All three will be used for Art Academy academic programs with 1835 Broadway very appropriately using ground floor as display showcase of vintage restored autos.

Between 1904 and 1908 many small auto showrooms and garages were built along Golden Gate Avenue between Hyde and Van Ness. After 1910 several small showrooms and repair garages located on Van Ness itself. The booming automobile industry soon demanded more grandiose buildings, and by 1911 prominent architects such as McDonald and Applegarth, Willis Polk and Bernard Maybeck began designing automobile showrooms. After the total destruction of buildings on east side of Van Ness south of Filbert and incursion of fire on the west side of Van Ness from Sutter, there were many ruins and extensive vacant lots along Van Ness. As the downtown stores which had temporarily located on lower Van Ness returned to their rebuilt downtown locations, auto showrooms, body shops, wreckers, tire service, used car lots, auto parts, parking garages and even electric charging and gas station businesses began to fill west side lots where mansions still stood, many still badly damaged by fire, filling dynamited east side of Van Ness and spilling over on side streets east to Polk and west to Franklin.

From 1906 to 1938 nearly 300 auto related buildings were constructed in the area around Van Ness from Golden Gate to Jackson. This is summarized in the report on Van Ness Auto Row by William Kostura for SF Planning Department which is at http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/pages/1054/files/van%20ness%20auto%20row.pdf.

1912 VN 1100 Geary NE Duryea, Maxwell, REO Ingall Chevy,..VN 1200 Post,.1913 VN 1201 NW Post Heald's,Autos,..VN AutoRow

1000 Van Ness Don Lee Cadillac to AMC Theaters

1912 VN 1301 Goodyear,..................................1916 VN 731,.......................................1912 VN 1400 to Datsun.. 1913 VN 1412 Leavitt, Willys, Firestone

Several large apartments also filled the vacant ruins from dynamiting east of Van Ness and fire damaged and torn down mansions to the west. In contrast to these areas, the upper section of Van Ness, north of Jackson Street, retained its residential character. In addition to several surviving nineteenth century mansions, private homes and large apartment buildings in a wide variety of architectural styles were constructed following the 1906 disaster. After 1915 and the Panama Pacific Exposition, residences were constructed along Van Ness north of Francisco Street.

After the Second World War, the designation of Van Ness as U.S. Highway 101 led to the use of the avenue as a primary vehicular thoroughfare and the concurrent re-orientation of businesses towards citywide and regional markets. Movie theaters and restaurants opened up alongside automobile showrooms. Since the late 1970’s, automobile-oriented businesses have declined as some auto showrooms relocated to 16th and Bryant Seals Stadium location when Candlestick was built as well as other areas within the city. Then they followed the growth of mushrooming suburban areas around the Bay and were replaced by other businesses and residences.

1960's: BART Plans..............................BART San Francisco,....................Freeways: Civic Center Interchange,...................SF Freeway Plans

In the 1960's plans for freeways and BART were set to transform Van Ness and surrounding streets like Polk and Franklin even more dramatically than 101. however, the withdrawal of Santa Clara from BART to concentrate on building freeways led to Marin also pulling out of BART problems and BART lines along Geary to ocean being cancelled. San Francisco was first city to stop freeways just passing through to carry suburbanites in and out. This was most noticeable as the south end of Van Ness ended up as freeway access rather than continuation on to eith downtown and East Bay or tunneling through Pacific Heights as well as west along Golden Gate Panhandle before joining north to Marin on Golden Gate Bridge.

The 1989 earthquake triggered a second transport related transformation, this time to the Civic Center area of Van Ness north of market. Van Ness in the late 1890.s near market was anchored by St. Ignatius move from Emporium site on Market to where Davies Hall is now. It burned in 1906 along with Civics Center stalwarts of Mechanics Pavillion, Hall of Records and City Hall, all built on Yerba Buena cemetery running east from Van Ness to Market St. City Hall was rebuilt in its current Van Ness location and in 1914 the new Civic Auditorium replaced San Francisco's first indoor arena Mechanics Pavillion which with a capacity of 11,000 had been presenting boxing events before being destroyed in 1906 fire.

1905 SF City Hall Market,.................1906 SF City Hall, Records, Mechanics Post Fire,................Mechanics Pavillion from 1882

That first transformation of Van Ness with Civic Center after the fire culminated in 1930's with construction of War Memorial Opera House and Herbst Theater buildings across Van Ness from new City Hall to West. On the Polk side of new City Hall was spacious plaza north of new Civic Auditorium and separating City Hall from new Library to the East and other public buildings to the north.

1916 SF City Hall VN Polk,.......................Civic Auditorium on Mechanics Pavillion Site

Above San Francisco Civic Center in 1980's and Right 1990's with Davies and Cal State added

 

1906 Post Fire SF Theaters,.VN NW Grove now War Memorial Opera, 1933 Opera House, Opening Tickets Lobby

The second transformation of lower Van Ness after 1989 was similar to the transformation downtown where with unsafe freeways brought down, downtown was again connected to it's waterfront. In Civic Center a similar open air transition resulted from unsafe freeway ramps and elevated highways coming down to west of Van Ness, which are only now being transformed into wonderful new Hayes Valley neighborhood west of Van Ness.

1197 Opera House Renovation after 1989 Earthquake

That second transformation was more personal for PJ and me as we learned and loved opera from the time we were married in 1980, and the quick drive down Gough from our Octavia home mad War Memorial Opera House almost a second home during both opera and ballet seasons. I still cherish memories of each of our sons on my shoulders in back of orchestra as they each saw their same Magic Flute opera at age two and then went regularly with me to productions we had seen that I wanted to see again. After 1989, we recall the net over the grand art deco auditorium ceiling and chandelier, and I remember walking out on scaffolding from balcony at near ceiling level house was being rebuilt and touching the chandelier. The 1991 opera reopening with Tosca was not only historic because it was Tosca that opened the house originally in 1933. Tosca in 1978 at San Francisco with Caballe, Pavarotti and Taddei will always be both my most memorable opera performance and recording, as I put a couple tapes in cassette recorder before leaving for performance.

That second transformation of lower Van Ness continues with new residences built in what had been parking lots and ever more vibrant street life below since old freeway ramps came down in 1990's. New restaurants, clubs and galleries added to this becoming San Francisco performing arts mecca, capped by 1980 addition of Davies Symphony Hall, Asian Art Museum and new Library opposite Civic Center Plaza from City Hall, and now renovation of Herbst to pull together disparate opera operations, just as Franklin St. ballet building did some years before for ballet.

1890's to 1995 St. Paulus Fire, 1890's to 1962 St. Mary's VN Fire, St. Mary's Gough SW Geary

On a sadder note, St. Paulus was lost to fire in 1995 after over 100 years and just as it had been reopened to neighborhood from it's years sandwiched between freeway access ramps. A couple blocks away on Van Ness northwest corner of O'Farrell, the 1891 St. Mary's Cathedral had weathered firestorm of 1906 only to fall to arson fire in 1962, a decade before it was relocated a couple blocks west on southwest corneer of Geary and Gough in 1971 and rises majestically over in its grand modern architecture over Cathedral Hill uphill to west of old St Mary's on Van Ness. Van Etta auto dealer in next block north of St. Mary's on Van Ness rose as Jack Tar and then Cathedral Hill Hotel. It is now a full block excavation site awaiting the rise of billion plus dollar new CPMC medical center, which will also include another auto dealer to professional medical office building next to Concordia Club on east side of same Van Ness block.

Further north, former auto showrooms have been converted to restaurants and offices, and some have been demolished for new mixed use residential, commercial and professional high rises, some like Towers senior residences, very lavishly built. Others have been painstakingly renovated like the Regency at Van Ness and Sutter. A very few of dealers including an beautifully remodeled Ellis Brooks where we bought Buick and Oldsmobile in past and just recently bought Nissan Leaf from same newly remodeled building where we regularly return for fast charge-ups, just like those electric charge up stations on Van Ness that lasted to 1920's where cheap petro snuffed out challenges of other energy in cars until now.

 

Concordia Argonaut 1907-2014 VN 1142 SE Post, Plans for CPMC to south and west

As I think of our near daily travel down Van Ness to Concordia over recent years, now often supplemented by charge ups at Nissan, I am also reminded of the many earlier days I came to know both Van Ness and Polk. In 1965 I drove cross country with my mother in Volkswagen I had bought in Europe with a Northwestern buddy for travel that summer. As we left Reno early enough to stop at Squaw Valley and take ride to top , I realized this was first I had ever been in California. When we arrived in San Francisco, we checked in to Madison hotel on Van Ness to be near 200 Bush where I was to report next morning for first day at Chevron Chemical. I stayed there again in 1968 when I returned to San Francisco next to determine whether I would rejoin Chevron after my MBA. With all the changes on Van Ness, it's still there as St. Clare in building that was never auto row related.

1965 Madison, now St. Clare VN 1332,.Lodge Residence Club now St. Anne B&B Sutter Octavia NE, .Standard Station VN NW Pine

In 1965 I walked lived at Lodge on Octavia and Sutter and walked to and from work each day via Van Ness and Polk crossing. By my return to San Francisco and Chevron in 1968 from years in NY and Cincinnati, Lodge was gone as a residence club, apparently somewhat related to changing times and values, often simplistically traced to 1967 Summer of Love in SF. When I returned to the Van Ness Polk corridor in 1969, I had opportunity to become familiar with the now only remaining gas station on Van Ness at Pine and Van Ness. It was only a virtual acquaintance as I spent several months using linear programming techniques in an operations research assignment at Chevron to schedule staff in this large company owned station. Most of that work was late at night at downtown Chevron headquarters where each evening I would key punch cards to correct programming errors from the night before and leave the cards to be run overnight on timesharing basis. Looking back at how primitive that seems today, I would then think of all those overnights my IBM Field Engineer father spent actually testing and soldering broken connections on circuit boards in days before transistors or integrated circuits had anything to do with computers.

Early Polk: 1894 Vallejo E,...............................................1906 Alhambra Theater,..............................................................1944 N California

1970's Polk: Henry Africa's Tiffany, Polk NW Broadway,Polk N Green Alhambra, Polk NW Vallejo Royal Oak,Polk SE Green Walgreens-Cole

Despite my one and only gas station project, I became much more familiar with north end of Van Ness and Polk, where many pre 1906 residences and those built after 1915 Fair further north still exist. In early years above Polk at Green and Larkin and then on Lombard Ridge, I got to know Polk as street of mom and pop small merchants and shops. That seemed consistent with what I learned later as Polk always being the commercial street west of Nob and Russian Hills, much more so than Van Ness. Other than Walgreen's, which I recognized from growing up in Chicago area, I don't know whether any national chains have ever made much of an incursion on Polk. Great restaurants came and went as is typical throughout San Francisco. Fern bars like Henry Africa's and Royal Oak seemed to have originated in our north stretch of Polk, but perhaps not. And from Larkin I looked out over the exotic lights of Alhambra movie theater Islamic domes long before it became another fitness place.

1870 Polk Filbert SW St. Brigid's Center,....................1906 Van Ness NSt. Brigid's,.............1930's Van Ness N Pacific SW Broadway St. Brigid's

From 1983 when Broadway and Octavia became home, recollections turned more to Van Ness than Polk, first from walks down to Van Ness where St. Brigid's still dominates SW corner and on to Polk restaurants. When Tristan was a toddler, we started going down van Ness each Sunday to St Mark's now well into it's second century on Cathedral Hill, where at one time they owned their entire block before parceling much of it off for development in mid 20th century. We most recall St. Mark's from memories of Pine Cone football on outside play area after church. With St. Mary's on Van Ness and St Paulus block down hill on Gough now gone, First Unitarian dating from 1889 at Franklin and O'Farrell predates St. Mark's by a few years, but as we see in aerial view below, but for us St. Mark's remains the most unchanged 19th century church left on Cathedral Hill, even with it's beautiful new interior restoration.

1894+ St. Mark's Lutheran: Cathedral Hill,................,... Renovated Interior St. Mark's 2000's,......................................Cathedral Hill Aerial

Then both our Sunday and then daily itineraries shifted a few blocks north along Van Ness to St. Luke's and preschool years. It was during those times that our attention shifted way south on Van Ness to opera house where all of us went to every opera and most ballets until boys had school homework and didn't have time for afternoon naps before evening operas or ballets. Those great years of opera house as home away from home extended to 2006 when PJ left as Opera Guild managing Director. By then Tristan was at UC Santa Barbara and a year later Kevin at Cal Poly.

Broadway:Pacific Hieights/Lombard Ridge Link: St. Brigid's-Art Academy VN SW. Autos-CSAA-Walgreens Polk NE Little Thai RIP

With both returned to San Francisco, we are again all within a couple blocks of Polk and Van Ness having renewed our attachment to Lombard Ridge as well as Pacific Heights Ridge homes.

Looking back at all the evolution I have learned of on Van Ness and Polk since area has been home to us and realizing how much change lies ahead, particularly for Van Ness, I can't begin to imagine what will come next. So instead I will close with dinner party at which PJ and I were guests shortly after we were married at our Lombard home. coincidentally the dinner was at an aprtment in a courtyard complex where PJ lived across from Galileo High between Polk and Van Ness.

Among the guests was Clara Denman, who I knew from World Affairs Council, and who's Crown Zellerbach executive son I had worked with a few years before. Clara referred to a story that was also in a Herb Caen column later: She had once been stopped for going a bit too fast on Van Ness. The officer looked at her driver's license and said, "Your middle name interests me." Said Mrs. Denman: "Yes, my great-grandfather was Mayor James Van Ness, for whom this street was named." The officer replied "I can't tag a Van Ness on Van Ness. Please proceed slowly... and carefully."

As I finish these notes on how Van Ness and Polk relate to both our Lombard Ridge and Pacific Heights Ridge homes, I am struck by the juxtapositions of people and events that would have led to us sitting halfway between Van Ness and Polk to hear Clara tell her story about her great grandfather being Mayor after whom the Van Ness ordinance that laid reconciled previous squatter and claimant rights with Western Addition streets and lots was named and who then became namesake of it's most prominent boulevard. And then I realized it would have been her husband's grandfather who was the Supervisor James Denman most responsible for the Polk St. cut, just a block south of that night's dinner party that left in 1894 our property and all those earlier Lombard Ridge cottages stranded on cliff 55' above the new Polk that now runs clear to Aquatic Park. Guess I will never know whether Clara realized that not only was her great grandfather Van Ness responsible for chain of events that led to Van Ness we know today, but also that her husband's grandfather was probably the greatest influence on Polk becoming what it is today.

Clara also never could realize what traffic on Van Neww was set to become with Google and other Peninsula luxury commute buses now and a new mid boulevard bus rail transit system scheduled for center meian. And all just afterfinally getting lovely street trees and attractive shrubbery and flowers thriving in that non neglected Van Ness median. But for all the changes as we know Van Ness today, there still are a sprinkling of wonderful old auto palaces such as the beautiful Nissan Infinit we have come to know and further south the BMC Jaguar folks.

2016 Van Ness Transit Plan, Van Ness Transit 1893, 1942, 2011

Van Ness SW Pine Towers,...Ellis Brooks- Nissan VN-Bush SW,... ...Regency Van Ness NE Sutter,..........Jack Tar/CathedralHill/CPMC VN N Geary

From above, Van Ness and Polk certainly are fuller than on maps in times past. As for me, if I had to choose a long lost setting I would most like a time machine to return to, it probably would be a toss-up among Black Point Cove in Pioneer Woolen Mill era at north foot of Polk, Lurline Salt Water Baths on Larkin and Bush just off Polk or our 'So Dear to My Heart' Lombard Ridge before the 1894 Polk cut of the great Sand dune running west to Presidio.

Above San Francisco Black Point Cove SE 1930's, 1980's right

to 1880's Washerwoman's Lagoon, 1894-1936 Lurlline Salt Water Baths Larkin NW Bush, To 1890's Lombard Sand Bank W

Thinking of long gone places to return slightly west of Polk and Van Ness that would connect our ties both to Lombard as well as Pacific Heights ridge homes, most favored options would be Washerwoman's Lagoon, Pan Pacific International Exposition of 1915, or Fremont's Black Point home, just above Civil War battery site of our wedding reception some years ago.

Fort Mason Battery Point Below Fremont Home Through the Years

1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition N from Pacific Height Ridge