West of Twin Peaks
How much difference would 20 minutes make in your commute to work?
How about four million dollars?
The Twin Peaks tunnel opened on February 3, 1918, cutting the trolley time commute by 20 minutes from Sloat Boulevard to Kearny Street downtown. Westward went the masses, developing the Balboa Terrace, Forest Hill, West Portal, St. Francis Wood, and Westwood Park neighborhoods.
By 1924 the assessed valuation of the West of Twin Peaks area had risen by $4,000,000.
Mostly part of the Rancho San Miguel, the West of Twin Peaks area consisted of some of the last parts of San Francisco open to development. It took the promise of the Twin Peaks tunnel and the final resolution of land owner Adolph Sutro's estate (decades in probate!) to open the door. (Read more about it in Richard Brandi's article.)
Noted architects and planners such as Mark Daniels, the Olmsted Brothers, Henry Gutterson and Joseph Leonard turned away from San Francisco's grid-style street design and created "residence parks" or "residential parks," with wide, curving boulevards elegantly landscaped.
To these subdivisions moved families from the Mission District and other parts of San Francisco, trying to find a suburban feel within city limits. Eventually the neighborhoods housed some of the city's wealthiest and most powerful citizens: politicians, baseball players, and corporate heads.
Strong neighborhood associations helped maintain the beauty and architectural integrity of these parks, while limiting the diversity of the residents with racist housing covenants.
Around the edges of the artistic Forest Hill and St. Francis Wood, less high-minded developers like Fernando Nelson & Sons put up smaller family homes, and the Meyer Brothers began work on Miraloma Park. Before these neighborhoods got started, Behrend Joost on the east side of Sutro's Forest started the working-class Sunnyside neighborhood.
Images: 1) St. Francis Wood fountain (WNP photo - Aug 2001), 2) Balboa Terrace (WNP photo - Aug 2001)
- 100 Stonecrest Drive
Henry Stoneson built this house in Lakeside for his own use
- 1508-1516 Ocean Avenue
Built in 1923, the first bank for Westwood Park.
- 521 Dewey Boulevard
And now a word from the brick industry... - San Francisco Examiner, 1926
- 90 Cedro Avenue
San Francisco Landmark #213 in Ingleside Terraces
- A Brief History of Midtown Terrace
A hidden neighborhood high in the middle of the city. - by Rex Bell
- A Walk Along the Almshouse Road
Retracing an 1890s country walk through the city. - by Rex Bell
- Adolph Sutro
The man who practically owned the western neighborhoods.
- Arden Wood
The First Church of Christ, Scientist selected the plot of land in the newly-developed West Portal neighborhood for its west coast nursing facility in the 1920s.
- Artifact Discovery
A piece of Playland history found in West Portal - SF West History Minute
- Balboa Terrace
Lang Realty Company and Hueter Homes developed this residential park in the 1920s. - by Woody LaBounty
- Balboa Theaters of San Francisco
The Richmond's beloved Balboa Theater wasn't the first. - SF West History Minute
- Balboa/Westwood Theater
The first Balboa theater was on Ocean Avenue.
- Birth of Westwood Park, Part 1
The creation of San Francisco's first residence park for the middle class. - by Woody LaBounty
- Commodore Sloat School
At Ocean Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard since the 1860s.
- Daniel Burnham's Twin Peaks Vision
The grand unfulfilled plan to remake western San Francisco. - by Rex Bell
- Dewey Boulevard Then and Now
From 1910 to the present
- Duncan McDuffie
A first-person account of the building of St. Francis Wood
- El Rey Theater
The structure of the old El Rey prospers today as the Voice of Pentecost church
- Ella Driscoll
Ella (Gross) Driscoll has lived in Ingleside Terraces since 1963, but grew up with a twin sister in the outer Sunset District
- Farms, Fire and Forest
Sutro's ownership of the old Rancho San Miguel - by Richard Brandi
- Fernando Nelson
Builder of West Portal, Parkway Terrace, and Merced Manor - by Richard Brandi
- Foerster Street Tragedy, 1942
On February 6, 1942 a slide of mud from the southeast side of Mount Davidson hit three homes and killed a woman.
- Forest Hill
This residence park neighborhood's fist house was completed in 1914
- Forest Hill Broadsheet
A re-creation of a flyer printed by the Newell-Murdoch Company, circa 1912
- Forest Hill Club House
The Forest Hill club house was designed by the renowned architect Bernard Maybeck
- Forest Hill Station
Laguna Honda or Forest Hill MUNI Subway Station
- Henry H. Gutterson
Supervising Architect of St. Francis Wood - by Richard Brandi
- Homewood Terrace Orphanage
Jewish orphanage that faced Ocean Avenue from 1921 to 1960s
- House of Stone
In 1927, this house was the most popular destination in Forest Hill. - SF West History Minute
- Ingleside Coursing Park
Hounds once raced near today's City College of San Francisco. - by Woody LaBounty
- Ingleside Racetrack
Fourth in a series on west side racetracks. - by Angus Macfarlane
- Ingleside Terraces
The most fully-realized of San Francisco's "residence parks"
- Ingleside Terraces Sundial
The story of this mysterious monolith - by Hamilton Barrett
- Ingleside Terraces Video
1920s Newsreel footage of Ingleside Terrace and "Villa Maria" house. - Courtesy of Jack Tillmany
- Jockey House: 280 Byxbee Avenue
The Last Remnant of The Ingleside Racetrack? - by Sean Hall
- John Gross
Product of a pioneering Ingleside family
- Joseph A. Leonard
Builder of Jordan Park, Richmond Heights and Ingleside Terraces
- KGO House
The off-screen elf thinks he knows everything... - SF West History Minute
- Laguna Honda Wall
History of Laguna Honda Hospital's old cobblestone wall at the intersection of Laguna Honda Boulevard, Woodside Avenue, and Dewey Boulevard. - SF West History Minute
- Madie Brown
An ardent nature lover, she was the one who organized a citywide preservation effort to make Mt. Davidson a public park. - by Jacquie Proctor
- Mark Daniels
Landscape architect of Forest Hill, Sea Cliff and more.
- Miraloma Elementary School
Built in 1940 with potbelly stoves
- Monterey Boulevard
From the A.S. Baldwin survey of Adolph Sutro's estate in 1912
- Musical Culture in the 1930s
Advertisements for 1930s music teachers.
- My First Dance
Rosemarie Green's first hop in Forest Hill - by Rosemarie Marshall Green
- Mystery Dividing Line
Funny shaped buildings in West Portal mark a link to San Francisco's Mexican era - SF West History Minute
- OMI Context Statement
Historic Context Statement on the OMI neighborhoods (60 pages long). - by Richard Brandi and Woody LaBounty
- Patti Poole
Ingleside Terraces experiences great and common...
- Riding Home with Willie Mays
Tom O'Toole remembers the day he was the luckiest kid in San Francisco. - by Tom O'Toole
- Savano Luggage
A West Portal Family Business: Savano's Luggage - by Rosalie Savano
- Sherwood Forest
A tiny neighborhood on the side of Mount Davidson. - by Jacquie Proctor
- St. Cecilia's Parish
History and memories of St. Cecilia's Catholic Church in the Parkside District. - by Jo Anne Quinn
- St. Francis Wood
St. Francis Wood is justifiably lauded as one of the nation's finest examples of a "residence park."
- St. Francis Wood Pamphlet
Mason-McDuffie and Baldwin & Howell issued a small booklet promoting the St. Francis Wood development in November 1912. - San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
- Streetwise - Dad & Bill's Night Out
Memories of the 1950s fight against the Western Freeway. - by Frank Dunnigan
- Streetwise - Up & Down West Portal
A walk on West Portal Avenue is a walk down Memory Lane. - by Frank Dunnigan
- Streetwise: Forest Hill
Architect David Coleman designed the first completed home in Forest Hill at 266 Pacheco Street. - by Woody LaBounty
- Streetwise: The Burned Cross
Patti Poole was six years old at the time, and stayed home from school while her parents talked to reporters and defended the people of Ingleside Terraces. - by Woody LaBounty
- Streetwise: Urbano's Racetrack
Urbano Drive is an oval laid exactly along the lines of the old Ingleside Racetrack, the last venue for horse racing in San Francisco. - by Woody LaBounty
- Streetwise: Willie Mays
The Giants centerfielder moves to the western neighborhoods - by Woody LaBounty
- Sundial at Ingleside Terraces Brochure
Photos of Ingleside Terraces, home floorplans, and the 1913 dedication ceremony - Courtesy of Margie Whitnah
- Sunnyside District
When Behrend Joost's "Sunny Side Land Company" bought the land from Leland Stanford the surrounding area was mostly vegetable fields.
- Sutro Forest
To celebrate Arbor Day in November 1886, Adolph Sutro arranged for the planting of thousands of trees on what was then called Mount Parnassus.
- The Chronicle House
A promotional bungalow built in Westwood Park
- The Gap clothing empire
The first store opened in the Ingleside in 1969.
- The Great Sign Search
We go looking throughout the hills West of Twin Peaks for artifacts of an earlier day - SF West History Minute
- The Original Balboa Theater, the Westwood
Ocean Avenue's first movie theater wasn't the El Rey. - by Woody LaBounty
- Twin Peaks Tunnel
The Twin Peaks Tunnel connected downtown with the west side in 1918 - SF West History Minute
- Urban Realty Improvement Co. Sales Pamphlet, 1910
1910 brochure detailing Joseph A. Leonard's residential building offerings through the Urban Realty Improvement Company. - WNP Collection
- West Portal
Streetcar portal to the West of Twin Peaks section of San Francisco, West Portal acted as the staging area for the construction of the Twin Peaks Tunnel.
- West Portal Creamery
118 West Portal Avenue
- West Portal Elementary School
Class photos, history, and memories
- West Portal History Walk
An historic tour of West Portal Avenue, 15 Web pages of historic photos and text!
- West Portal History Walk: Empire Theatre
The Empire opened as the Portal Theatre at 85 West Portal Avenue in 1925.
- Westwood Park
Westwood Park was created in 1917, when Baldwin & Howell, one of San Francisco's oldest real estate firms, secured an undeveloped tract of land.
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Page updated 9 May 2006.