Western Neighborhoods Project is dedicated to the history of San Francisco's Richmond, Sunset, OMI and West of Twin Peaks districts.   read more ...

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 2: The Richmond District of 1920

David and Woody find some surprises in a neighborhood newspaper from exactly 93 years ago.
Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast - Jan 10, 2013

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 2: The Richmond District of 1920 Outside Lands Podcast Episode 2: The Richmond District of 1920

(above) Pioneer Potato Market, 1920

Ad for Pioneer Potato Market run by John C. Jacobs at 708 Clement Street, April 2, 1920.
Richmond Banner, April 2, 1920

Podcast Transcription

Outside Lands Podcast Episode #2: The Richmond District of 1920

Originally Recorded: January 9, 2013


Woody LaBounty: It is January 9th, 2013. I'm Woody LaBounty here with-

David Gallagher: -David Gallagher- 

Woody: -and we're going to do our second podcast of the year and today we're going to do something a little different. Of course, anything is a little different - 

David: It's only the second one.

Woody: Exactly! How different can we get? But we were looking at this old copy of the Richmond Banner. We have a lot of old, uh, careful with that old paper.

David: Let me make some newspaper sounds.

Woody: It's real paper; we have real, old newspapers here in the office at the Western Neighborhoods Project and, uh, we're gonna- we're kind of looking through this old issue from January 9, 1920, which is, uh-

[Ripping paper]

Woody: No!

David: Oops!

Woody: It wasn't really the paper. And, uh, so this is, uh, how many years ago would that be? 93 years ago.

David: 93 years old, this newspaper - still in good shape!

Woody: 93 years ago today and we both kind of looked through it, but we didn't talk to each other about it. What- what came out at you, David, 93 years ago today in the Richmond District, in this old Richmond Banner?

David: Uh, well the main thing that I noticed about the Richmond Banner is that it shows a lot of community news, uh, community sort of events and things to do; a lot of ads for local businesses - some of which are still around!

Woody: Really? Some of these ads are still businesses around?

David: Some of these are still around, yeah, I was looking-

Woody: We should say that the Richmond Banner was like a neighborhood newspaper. It was back when neighborhoods had their own little newspapers. Some- there's- some are still around today.

David: Here's one- here's one from Macavoy O'Hara, funeral director, yeah, at Ninth Avenue.

Woody: Now that's true they- at Ninth Avenue? That's interesting, I guess they were at Ninth. Um, I thought they were over at Sixth but now that is over on Tenth Avenue, I think.

David: Is that right?

Woody: I don't know, we have to look it up. I think it's interesting how many markets there were, how many dentists were in the Richmond District. I kept seeing that. 

David: Yeah, there's uh, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen dentists. Well, one optometrist. Eighteen dentists and an optometrist!

Woody: It was the dentist center of the- San Francisco. I also thought it was kind of funny, was, you know we went to Rick Pralinger's Lost Landscapes last night and Rick always says when you're filming something to film a gas station. Forget the flowers in the backyard. The stuff that's going to be interesting to people years later are the shots of gas stations and businesses and these ads came out a lot more than any of the news to me. 

David: Yeah. Though I did find a couple of news items that I thought were kind of cool, really. Throughout the newspaper there's- there are these little sections called local news and it could be just one sentence about somebody's funeral or something happening. Here's one that- that struck me and then it continued throughout: Mr. and Mrs. Jess G. Boydston nee Miss Hazel Allen spent the holidays in New York with their sister, Miss Grace Allen of Fourth Avenue and this, uh, Fourth Avenue this district. Miss Allen is the leading lady in the Larry Riley Company. Have you ever heard of Grace Allen?

Woody: Hmm, Grace Allen? No, I've never heard of Grace Allen.

David: Did you ever hear of Gracie Allen of Burns and Allen?

[Suspenseful Music]

Woody: Yes!

David: That's the one!

Woody: She actually grew up in the Richmond District.

David: She did grow up in the Richmond District

David: And she went to Star of the Sea school, which is still there today.

Woody: Yep.

David: And throughout, there are a number of items about the Allens in this newspaper.

Woody: They were a theatrical-

David: Did you see this?

Woody: -publicity seeking family, I guess.

David: They were on top of it.

Woody: I think their sisters and the mother, I think they all had some sort of entertainment bug.

David: Four sisters.

Woody: Yeah

David: On the back page there's a big ad for Miss Pearl Allen's Dancing Class. Thursday afternoons at 3:15 on 668 4th Avenue between Balboa and Cabrillo.

Woody: That's the other thing, the odds that kept coming up were a lot of kid things, dancing lessons. This one over here I thought was interesting, it was the Highland School and it says the Highland School San Francisco quote, “a particular school for a particular people,” end quote.

David: What's that mean?

Woody: I don't know. Made me wonder because over here, you see this ad for Richmond or Sunset Richmond Window Cleaning Company and then it says in big letters underneath, “white labor only.”

[Ominous Music]

Woody: It was sort of a racist time and maybe people liked the idea that somebody coming into their house, cleaning their windows was going to be white.

David: Here's an ad for the Lincoln Theater, 6th Avenue and Clement. Is there a theater there?

Woody: No, when I was a kid there was a bowling alley there but before that it had been a theater and now it's- I think a bank? Oh, that- oh speaking of businesses that survived- so when I was a kid we went to Lick’s Supermarket which was on- [Inaudible]. Yeah, which was between 5th and 6th that, or 6th and 7th Avenue. Um and, uh- and it's listed in here and then later it became Petrini's and now it's, like, a Smart and Final. So back in 1920, Lick’s was still going strong. I also thought some of the ads were funny in the sense that the, what they were advertising there was one that was, uh, a Success Commercial Academy and it was private coaching- it was almost like you talk about life coaches today. Somebody was actually coaching you on your career.

David: Private coaches, weird. Is that what it said?

Woody: Yeah, private coaches.

David: Odd.


David: One thing, though, that I noticed throughout is that this is the Richmond Banner, but throughout the Richmond Banner it refers to the Park Presidio District.

Woody: Yeah it was a con- it was a competing name, you might say, for the neighborhood. Thomas and Sons Pharmacies over there says it serves the Park Presidio District, but it was called Richmond first and then Richmond, California in the East Bay came around and the people in the Richmond District didn't like that idea and they wanted to come up with their own unique name, so Park Presidio was the, uh, chosen name.

David: So they were going to change their name?

Woody: It actually was changed- the city actually changed the name officially to Park Presidio and it was only a couple of years ago they changed it back to Richmond.

David: Here's an ad for the, uh, hall for rent - the Park Presidio Improvement Association Hall. I think we have a picture of that on our website.

Woody: Yeah we have- and we have a history minute, one of our video history minutes on-

David: So that building's still there, right?

Woody: Mhm, it's a Russian church.

David: It has that strange, sort of classical columns and-

Woody: Yeah.

David: -It's kind of a sticks out in-

Woody: It's a beautiful building.

David: -A different way of the- Cut that part out.

Woody: My favorite article in here, though, David was the one- it actually wasn't a local item. A lot of these items come from other newspapers or something, but there was one up here titled “Headline: World Needs the Elderly, Their Ripened Experience and Developed Judgement Make Them of Value to the Community.”


Woody: So there you go, the world needs the elderly. Does the world need our WNP Western Neighborhoods Project Podcast?

David: [In an “elderly voice”] Well, I don't know for sure, Woody, but I think they might.

Woody: Don’t make any elderly jokes, that's our core audience.


Woody: But that's it. Little, uh, time travel back looking at the old Richmond Banner from today in 1920. I'm Woody LaBounty-

David: -And I'm David Gallagher-

Woody: -And we'll see you next time.

[Music and Background Noise]


Woody: Learn more about the Western Neighborhoods Project and more about San Francisco history at outsidelands.org


More Podcasts
  • Podcast # 28: Cliff House

    San Francisco's Cliff House, perched above Seal Rocks at the Pacific Ocean, celebrates its 150th anniversary in July 2013. (Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast Jul 16, 2013)
  • Podcast # 392: Dr. Emma Sutro Merritt

    Dr. Emma Sutro Merritt was Adolf Sutro's eldest child. Accomplished in her own right, she left a lasting legacy in San Francisco to this day. WNP's Chelsea Sellin joins the live podcast as we continue this year's celebration of Women on the West Side. (Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast Aug 15, 2020)
All Podcasts...

The Outside Lands San Francisco podcast is also available as a subscription via iTunes and by RSS feed.

Save SF History