by Richard Brandi
The area now called West Portal was part of Rancho San Miguel, a huge Mexican land grant awarded to Jose de Jesus Noe in 1846. A land covered with sand and scrub, it was difficult to reach. Except for the Ingleside racetrack and the Alms House for the Poor (now Laguna Honda Hospital), the main activity was dairy grazing and vegetable farming. (1)
In 1880 Adolph Sutro bought part of Rancho San Miguel and later willed that 1,200 acres---land that now runs from Forest Hill to Westwood, including West Portal---be placed in a trust for charitable and educational purposes. (2)
After Sutro's death in 1898, his heirs spent a decade in a successful attempt to break the trust. A.S. Baldwin, Joseph Leonard, J.E. Green and Duncan McDuffie bought most of the land and developed a number of residential tracts: St. Francis Wood and Forest Hill (1912), Ingleside Terraces (1913), Miraloma (1914), and Westwood Park (1916).
Image: West Portal Avenue at Ulloa, 1924. Courtesy of the California Historical Society; FN-32594
Bibliography: (1) Jean Kortum, "San Francisco's San Miguel Rancho," Nineteenth Century, Vol. 14, No. 1, page 27; (2) Mae Silver, Rancho San Miguel, Ord Street Press, 1992, page 43.
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Page launched 12/06/01. Updated 1/11/02