Sunset District

Stories in the Sand by Lorri Ungaretti

Stories in the Sand San Francisco's Sunset District 1847-1964
by Lorri Ungaretti
$26.95 + $5 shipping/handling - 176pg, 10" x 7", illustrated

Stories in the Sand: San Francisco's Sunset District 1847-1964, is 176 pages of fascinating history, in-depth profiles of four people who contributed to that history, quotes from present and past residents, and almost 200 archival photographs. Stories in the Sand tells the little-known, colorful, and often surprising stories of people who embodied the pioneer spirit by moving into an area of San Francisco that was once considered uninhabitable, transforming it into a thriving neighborhood.

Then and Now: San Francisco's Sunset District by Lorri Ungaretti

Then and Now: San Francisco's Sunset
by Lorri Ungaretti
$21.99 + $5 shipping/handling, 96 pages b/w

The Sunset District developed late because of its distance from downtown and because of the sand dunes that covered it for thousands of years. After 1900, as public transportation spread and the automobile became available, housing and streets soon began to cover the Sunset District dunes. WNP Board Member, Lorri Ungaretti shows the changes that have occured over the last 150 years, from the time of the Great Sand Waste of the Outside Lands until today's largest of San Francisco's Neighborhoods.

Parkside District

Sand, scrub and more sand. Such was the foundation for the Sunset District.

Although real estate investors such as Aurelius Buckingham and Sol Getz tried to claim credit, the Sunset received its name in 1889 from Easton, Eldridge and Co. which was selling a block it marketed as "Sunset Heights". Outside of a few scattered dairy farms, Carl Larsen's chicken ranch, and the eucalyptus trees George M. Greene had begun planting at today's Stern Grove, early buyers in the Sunset lived alone with the dunes.

Carville detail from A.S. Baldwin, Estate of Adolph Sutro, Deceased, March-April-May 1910. - Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

The taming of the outside lands for homes really began the day Golden Gate Park split the sand hills. Developers predicted booms and started laying out lots and streets. Early buyers found themselves almost buried in dunes when the winds blew. Streetcar service was limited to a single line hugging the park, and only the heartiest made their homes out in the fog.

The 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition held in Golden Gate Park gave businesses a foothold. Some newspapers nicknamed the fair site "Sunset City", and establishments such as the Little Shamrock (still serving drinks on Lincoln Boulevard at Ninth Avenue) moved in to accommodate the crowds.

Early in the 20th Century, the inner Sunset began to fill in, often only small islands of two or three houses at a time, accessible by sidewalks made of planks. William Crocker's realty company in 1905 erected the first large housing development on the western edge: the "Parkside" tract, built up around 21st Avenue and Taraval streets. At the same time, enterprising folks made homes in abandoned cable and streetcars at the beach, and named the community "Carville". (More "respectable" residents of the Carville area called the neighborhood "Oceanside".)

The 1930s brought developers such as Ray Galli, the Stoneson Brothers, the Doelger Brothers and others to construct affordable row housing. The years after the second World War, with easy lending policies, finally represented the housing boom the Sunset had always waited for, and the last of the sand lots were filled in.

The inner Sunset District from Strawberry Hill. Sutro Forest in the background. Note the large sand dune in center, between Tenth and Twelfth Avenues. - Courtesy California Historical Society, FN-24498

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