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Early San Francisco History from Street Names

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History of Early
S.F. Street Names


Street Names A-F

Street Names G-M

Street Names N-Z

Miscellaneous Street Names

This little booklet on the people for whom San Francisco streets are named is limited, with few exceptions, to those pioneers who were in San Francisco before 1850. Thus it does not include the presidents, the statesmen, the railroad and Comstock men, and many others who came to the city after 1849. It is also limited by necessity to factual material available about the pioneers, and by choice to that part of it which appears to be most interesting.

San Francisco is well supplied with streets named after its very early residents: the merchants, army and navy officers, town officials, and the men who took leading parts in the affairs of the city during the few years before and after the American conquest of July 9, 1846.

At the time of the conquest the future city had three parts: the Presidio or Mexican military settlement; the Mission Dolores, with a settlement of Mexican ranch owners adjoining it; and Yerba Buena, the settlement on the cove of the same name, which extended from Telegraph Hill to Rincon Hill between Powell Street and the Bay. The name Yerba Buena as applied to that part of the future city was in use for only about ten years. Early in 1847, under United States rule, it was changed to the present name–San Francisco.

The information given here was obtained from historical books, newspapers, maps, letters, obituaries, scrap books, and the biographical files of the Bancroft Library, with much help from the California Historical Society, the Society of California Pioneers, the State Library at Sacramento, the San Francisco Public Library, the Huntington Library at San Marino, and many friends.

Perhaps the most interesting part in the preparation of this pamphlet, and certainly the reason for much of the research, was the attempt to trace the obscure origin of such names as Powell, Buchanan, Franklin, Bush, Octavia, Drumm, Fell and Steiner.

Zoeth S. Eldredge, who wrote the Beginnings of San Francisco, did a great deal of work in bringing about the use of Spanish-Mexican pioneer names for San Francisco streets, and also in tracing the origins of street names. He was on a commission to change the names of many of the numbered and lettered streets in 1909, and selected the alphabetical series from Anza to Yerba for streets located north and south of Golden Gate Park, There still remain many colorful pioneers whose names have not yet been used for streets.

This booklet, as will be evident, is not written for authorities on early California. It is also realized the interest will be largely local, but to many San Franciscans and also visitors to the city there is probably some curiosity as to who Post, Powell, Bush, O’Farrell and Green were.

In addition to the main listing of pioneers is a section titled Miscellaneous Names. It includes a number of streets and other places not named for pioneers, but in use during pioneer days, and notes on several groups for whom streets were named.

H. C. C.
[Henry C. Carlisle]

August, 1954

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