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Outside Lands Podcast Episode 468: The Great Highway - The Beginning

Eight (eight!) years ago, in episode #77, we did our first podcast on the Great Highway. Now we're back and chock-full of even more history. This week, Nicole and Arnold take a deeper look at the Great Highway and its early beginnings.
- Aug 6, 2022

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 468: The Great Highway - The Beginning Outside Lands Podcast Episode 468: The Great Highway - The Beginning


Podcast Transcription

WNP468 – Great Highway - The Beginning

Nicole: [00:00:00] It’s Outside Lands San Francisco, podcast of the Western Neighborhoods Project. I'm Nicole Meldahl.

Arnold: And I'm Arnold Woods.

Nicole: Hello Arnold.

Arnold: Hello Nicole.

Nicole: So, a funny thing happened on the way to record this podcast, is that, we are not going to record a podcast about Laguna Honda Hospital today.

Arnold: You mean we lied in our preview again last week.

Nicole: Two times a liar. So, research is still ongoing. And if this was a Facebook status from 2008, we would have it listed as, “it's complicated.” Because this is a very important, complicated history that we don't wanna get wrong or do halfway. So, we're still working on it. But also, it's been an insanely wild time behind the scenes here at WNP. [00:01:00] There's a lot of things going on we can't actually announce yet and actually may come to nothing, cause that's the nature of nonprofit management. But it's exciting and we're doing a lot. But we are recording a podcast today. Arnold, what's going on here?

Arnold: So, there's also a lot going on behind the scenes here on the west side of San Francisco. Everybody is talking about what should be done with Great Highway. Should be closed to traffic? Should be made into an expansive park activated by community programming? Should it stay open to traffic to ease the commute for those who can't afford to live and work in San Francisco? Should it be open to cars during the week and made into a recreation sanctuary on weekends and holidays? It is complicated.

Nicole: Very complicated, and since WNP is not a political organization, it's not for us to determine the outcome of this politicized debate. That should be the will of a [00:02:00] Democratic majority. Winks at an election ballot. But, these questions compelled us to research like how the highway and the land around it has evolved over time. And, as it turns out, there is a really long history of competing visions for San Francisco's western-most shore. Which I guess should shock none of us, given that this is San Francisco's way.

Arnold: Indeed. It's also history that we've somewhat covered here and there on this podcast. Way, way back in episode 77, the fellows presented their 21-minute hot take on the entire history of the Great Highway.

Nicole: I think we should call all the early podcasts, just hot takes.

Arnold: They were much less complicated, shall we say.

Nicole: Simpler times.

Arnold: Anyways, then we have episode 99 on the Great Highway Railroad. And we've covered some places along the Great Highway, like the Hot House, back in episode [00:03:00] 338. There's other places along the way that we've covered. Until now, though, we've never truly tried to unpack this story, painstakingly pulling each item out of the history suitcase. So, that's what we're gonna start to do today, dealing with the Great Highway.

Nicole: Because if WNP is known for anything these days, it's minutia. So Great Highway and connecting Point Lobos Avenue exist because wealthy landowners wanted to bring people to the west side, where an ever-expanding array of amusement options, like seemingly rose from the sand like magic through the late 19th and most of the 20th centuries. Some landowners, like populist Adolf Sutro, sought to give San Franciscans affordable recreation opportunities, while others wished to enhance the values of their property and grow their businesses. Although often it was a combination of both.

Arnold: Now these roads also [00:04:00] exist as a testament to civic pride and this seemingly inevitable march, what we now call gentrification. Not dissimilar to today, today's community groups like the neighborhood improvement clubs, the cultural groups formed around common interests like biking and drag racing, and real estate developers sculpted the landscape according to their desires. And we'll get into all of this over a series of podcasts that we’ll kind of release haphazardly in true WNP fashion. But we're gonna kick off the beginning of the story today.

Nicole: Yeah. So first of all, what is Great Highway exactly? Now it's helpful to think of this transit corridor along Ocean Beach and up the hill towards Lands End in three separate parts. So, we've got Point Lobos Avenue at the northernmost point. The Esplanade stretching from approximately Balboa to Lincoln Boulevard. And then, Great Highway starting at Lincoln to Sloat Boulevard, which includes Upper Great Highway, [00:05:00] a roadway starting at Lincoln Way and proceeding north along Golden Gate Park up to the Cliff House and Lower Great Highway, which runs south between Lincoln and Sloat.

Arnold: Now there's long been a horse road along Ocean Beach extending from the Cliff House down to Sloat Boulevard. They alternatively refer to this as Great Highway, sometimes Great Highway Reservation, or even Ocean Boulevard. Getting to the Pacific Ocean in the early days of San Francisco meant making your way through miles of sand dunes. Which is why it was commonly like a full day trip.

Nicole: Yeah.

Arnold: To get up to the beach.

Nicole: Full day.

Arnold: Which is why the road was dotted by road, roadhouses, where weary travelers could rest and take in the scenic beauty of the area.

Nicole: The very first resort and hotel at Ocean Beach, however, was Seal Rock House. It was built by a man named Samuel Brannan, who owned other property in the area. And, as the story goes, it was constructed from materials he allegedly salvaged [00:06:00] from a shipwreck. Newspapers said, and I quote, “the lumber for a house to be erected on Sacramento River Ranch was cut in Puget Sound region and loaded on a ship together with the plans, the doors and the windows and everything complete except the hardware.”

Arnold: Now the stories go on to say, “the vessel arrived off the Heads on a foggy night and went ashore on the beach at the foot of the grade, south of the Cliff House. Brannan bought the vessel and cargo at the Merchant's Exchange for $1,700.” End quote. After the purchase, he discovered the plans aboard the wrecked vessel and proceeded to build a ranch style house on the beach.

Nicole: Which explains why it has a very unique look. And you can search for this establishment on the OpenSFHistory archive. So, this origin story for Seal Rock House has often been confused with the building of the first Cliff House. The resort opened around 1858 and [00:07:00] maybe that's where the Whitney family got confused. So, when they rebranded the Cliff House in the 1950s, there was a big sign on the side of the building that said, “established in 1858.” Which has been confounding amateur historians and people who like to share random stuff on social media, but not actually research what they're sharing, for decades. Over the years, Seal Rock House would also be known as Long Branch House and the Seal Rock Hotel. And yeah, it's popped up in other podcasts throughout the years here.

Arnold: And I think the other part of that confusion as to when the Cliff House began was that Captain Junius Foster was running the Seal Rock House for the owners and then moved. When the Cliff House got opened, he got hired up there to run the Cliff House. So…

Nicole: Also., when I, oh…

Arnold: Go ahead.

Nicole: When I retire, I'm gonna open a bar called Captain Junius Foster’s. [00:08:00]

Arnold: Can't wait to go there.

Nicole: Woo.

Arnold: In the 1870s, the Seal Rock House was purchased by John Landers, who then purchased two more blocks south of him that he would eventually sell to A.P. Hotaling, bringing all three blocks into the Hotaling estate. He also rented the business to Nicholas Hochguertel. I'm sure I wrecked that name. He would become a longtime proprietor of the Seal Rock House and the Ocean Beach Pavilion, which opened next door in June 1884.

Nicole: Please know that last name is spelled H-O-C-H-G-U-E-R-T-E-L. And Arnold did a great job. When I wrote these notes, I was like, awesome. One of us is gonna be unlucky here. So, building roadhouses is great and all, but how do you get people to come out here? It's a long ways away. In the early 1860s, a group of wealthy landowners in [00:09:00] the area formed a Point Lobos Toll Road Company and built a road to Point Lobos, where the Cliff House was built in 1863. The road, which used dirt and wooden planks to subdue the sand, originally started at Kearney and Clay Streets. But when streetcar service reached the Lone Mountain cemeteries, the beginning of the toll road was switched to that point.

Arnold: So, then you get the Richmond District growing and competition increased from other roads and other means of public transportation. So, the Point Lobos Toll Road was no longer as profitable. It was sold to the city of San Francisco for $26,576 in 1878. And that portion of the Point Lobos Avenue, east of 42nd Avenue, and extending way downtown, became Geary Boulevard to one point, and I believe Geary Street or Avenue the rest of the way.

Nicole: Yep.

Arnold: And what we now think of as Point Lobos Avenue was formalized from 42nd Avenue going [00:10:00] west. It kind of curves a little bit to the north, and Geary continues straight out to 48th, and it continues west down past the Cliff House, where it turns south and continues to Balboa Street to meet the Great Highway. And you can go way back to episode 58 to hear John Freeman talk about that toll road in great detail.

Nicole: Yeah, and of course we have the Cliff House constructed in 1863. And part of the shoreline that would host another early resort, Oceanside House, was owned by a prominent land attorney named Mr. Bella S. Brooks in the 1850s. At one point, Brooks zoned like 52 blocks of super valuable windswept sand dunes and was convinced that Ocean Beach would become a prominent seaside resort. I just wanna stop for a minute because like, this was not a popular opinion at the time, right?

Arnold: Right.

Nicole: Like we all live in the west side. It's all filled with beautiful [00:11:00] stucco homes and it's got all kinds of utilities. Like this is the wasteland of San Francisco at this time. This guy came out here and was like, I smell, I smell potential.

Arnold: And remember when he comes out, this is called the Outside Lands, because of all the sand and scrub brush, and it's not in city limits at that time.

Nicole: Yeah, so he's like the Lewis and Clark of San Francisco property owners. That's a terrible historical reference. But, Arnold's shaking his head vigorously, so let's move on. So, he borrows $40,000 from the Savings and Loan Society and erects a massive two-story building at 2550 Great Highway between Ulloa and Vicente Streets in 1866.

Arnold: And legend has it that Bella built his resort, and stop us if you've heard this one before, out of materials and furnishings salvaged from a luxurious steamer ship that wrecked nearby. And he [00:12:00] used these materials to open his roadhouse.

Nicole: Is this something that still happens? Like when cruise ships wreck, are people like, oh, I gotta use parts of those cruise ships to build myself a house?

Arnold: I don't know. And around San Francisco, we don't have these kind of wrecks anymore, because we've got complete electronic systems on these ships that prevent them from happening.

Nicole: It’s true. Readers, let us know, have you bought anything from a salvaged cruise ship? We're not gonna get any podcast mail for that.

Arnold: Probably not. Anyways, the U.S. Coast Survey map of 1869 shows that it was surrounded by sand dunes, almost a mile from the nearest building. People called it Brooks’ Folly. And, as one might suspect, he would lose it and all of his property at the beach to foreclosure before his death in 1879.

Nicole: Poor Bella. Over the next 35 years, subsequent out-of-towners, gave the business a try. First someone named [00:13:00] Clifton E. Mayne, from Los Angeles, and then George Rayfield of Tucson, Arizona Territory. Cause this is when it was still the Wild West out there. By 1902, however, Rayfield's widow sold the property to Alexander and Ida Russell for use as a private home, where they practiced neither very private, nor traditional hobbies. And you're gonna have to tune in to a future podcast to hear what we're talking about.

Arnold: Another early business catering to travelers was the Sea Breeze Resort on the Great Highway between what is today Rivera and Santiago Streets. This was soon purchased by a neighborhood resident named Short Roberts, and that also deserves its own podcast. That's Shorty Roberts, I should say.

Nicole: Yeah. Sorry, my typo.

Arnold: Shorty Roberts has a, I believe, a history up with the Cliff House as well.

Nicole: He sure does. So more on Shorty Roberts. Maybe I should open a dive bar [00:14:00] called Shorty Roberts. So many, so many opportunities for my retirement. So, as businesses evolved, the road had to improve. In their 1872 to 1873 biannual report, the Park Commission expressed its hope that the Great Highway could be more than just a, and I quote, “auxiliary to the park.” That it could be, and I quote again, “made a drive of rare attraction and beauty.” End quote. While still wishing it to be under the control of Park Commissioners. So, at the time, the Park Commission only oversaw Golden Gate Park, Mountain Lake and Buena Vista Park, but Great Highway would be under their control by 1874. This is really, really interesting, right? If we're talking about the debate that's happening now about whether or not Great Highway Park should be a park versus it should be a highway, the fact that the City has always sort of designated it as a park space under the control of the Park Commission. [00:15:00] That's an interesting point. Now, I'm not expressing an opinion here. I'm just pointing some stuff out. I wanna make that super clear. So, since the shifting sands of Golden Gate Park were dependent on environment, environmental conditions at Ocean Beach, it was a logical progression to control both. And that's a really important point as well.

Arnold: Exactly, and the Board of Supervisors allotted funding for a road to be constructed along Ocean Beach between the Cliff House and Golden Gate Park in 1879. That's the Upper Great Highway. With plans to extend the Esplanade south, the Lower Great Highway. But it was still a largely a sandy road until the City began improving it with a foundation of rough stone by the mid-1890s. Enter Adolph Sutro. And maybe another future podcast about that fact.

Nicole: Yes. So, in 1883, Ocean Beach and Great Highway may have [00:16:00] witnessed its first political demonstration. To protest Leland Stanford's monopoly over transportation to the area with his Southern Pacific Railroad, two men named Cornelius “Con” Mooney and Denis Kearney created a squatter's village of tents and concession stands just south of the Cliff House. Mooney was a local saloon proprietor, who had been kind of in and out of trouble in the 1860s and 1870s. And Kearney was an Irish labor leader who opposed unions and was vocally anti-Chinese.

Arnold: Yeah, there was a lot of that back then, unfortunately.

Nicole: A lot.

Arnold: In December 1883, a San Francisco Examiner reporter visits this quote, “sandy Utopia,” that would become known as Mooneyville in order to better understand what quote, “for several months past have been certain vague rumors and hints afloat.” End quote. He identified “the genial [00:17:00] Con Mooney” as the man who picked Ocean Beach as their “promised land. On its balmy shores, we will rear a foundation of a republic, which by those unselfish and disinterested principles have ever characterized our acts and will serve as a model to the world.” End quote. Grand words.

Nicole: Balmy shores?

Arnold: In like September and October, maybe.

Nicole: Bold statements. So Mooneyville extended about 1000 yards along the beach from the base of the cliff along the westerly line of Park and D Street, and about 50 individuals staked a claim to the land using roughly 60-feet front lots. I quote, “on each stake is posted a notice declaring rights of preemption. Many of the claimants have planted Uncle Sam's flags on their alleged possessions, apparently in defiance of the Park [00:18:00] Commissioners and the ebbing tide.”

Arnold: The Examiner, they described three large tents. The first one, belonging to Mooney. The second one to Colonel Joe Monaghan. And the third one is shared by Dennis Kearney and ex-assemblyman Steven Maybell, who had represented the 13th district in the California State Assembly from 1880 to 1881. On Kearney and Maybell's tent, quote, “a conspicuous sign announced that coffee and donuts could there be obtained for 10 cents. All private families could be supplied at the reduced rate of 25 cents per quart.”

Nicole: Most of the claimants had announced their intention of opening saloons once their rights were established. And Park Commissioner Pixley testified before the Board of Police Commissioners that Mooney was selling liquor at the beach without a license in December 1883. At that meeting, Mooney petitioned for a liquor license he had obtained for a wrestling match at the Mechanics [00:19:00] Pavilion to be transferred to his Ocean Beach Saloon at a Park Commissioner meeting. It was denied on moral grounds. They're like, no, you can't use this thing that was supposed to be for another place out at the beach, you weirdo.

Arnold: That other place being on the other side of town.

Nicole: Yeah. And he was pissed.

Arnold: Now Mooney, he says quote, “as everyone knows, I am a poor man and poor men stand no chance against these doted monopolies.” Gotta get outta this quote just for a second and say, does that sound like something that somebody might say today?

Nicole: People don't change.

Arnold: Back to Mooney's quote. “When the railroad company wanted to run their road, there was no kick. When a man wanted to put up a saloon right on the park property and to pay no rent, the Commissioners interposed no objection. [00:20:00] But soon as a poor, poverty stricken fellow like myself attempts to start a harmless coffee and donut stand down at the beach and out of the park, they stir up a frightful mess.” End quote.

Nicole: And I mean, I kind of feel for the guy.

Arnold: He's fighting the man.

Nicole: Yeah. Like he's trying to stick it to the man. He, he makes it sound like he's just trying to sell coffee, which is 100% a lie.

Arnold: Which we will get to.

Nicole: Anyways. So, it was anticipated that this ruling was to signal the end of the squatter village, even though Captain Patrick Curley was already in the process of constructing a two-story frame building at the, as the case was heard. So, this is progressing right? They're moving away from just their makeshift tents to actual buildings. Con Mooney was arrested on December 22nd, 1883 on the complaint of Park Commissioner [00:21:00] Frank Pixley’s business manager Andrew P. Stanton. He was charged with obstructing the public highway and maintaining a nuisance and released on bonds, and several other arrests were anticipated.

Arnold: Nonetheless, they push on.

Nicole: Keep calm and carry on.

Arnold: They're trying to build shanties north of the Cliff House, although they were rebuffed by the night watchmen. On December 24th, 1883, the Chronicle reported and, that settlers sold quote, “soda water, coffees, and candles and we're gladdened by the sight of the throng that hastened to make the best of the limited days travel, calling attention to their various edibles or drinkables in the loudest tones. Several new shanties were in the process of erection and the builders are confident that nothing short of an act of Congress can oust them from their holdings.” End quote.

Nicole: I mean…

Arnold: I don't think it's gonna take an act of Congress.

Nicole: [00:22:00] Rule breakers are always confident, right? And by like North Beach do, are we talking about Naiad Cove, where the Sutra Baths are later built?

Arnold: I’m not sure if it's there. Maybe up the hill. Some like where Merrie Way was.

Nicole: Oh yeah.

Arnold: I don’t know.

Nicole: Because if it is Naiad Cove, I think we should start serving coffee and donuts as a historical popup. Anywhose it. I just wanna drink coffee and donuts. Any donuts. So, the proximity of what was also called, Mooneysville by the Sea to the ocean, was a recurring issue. And I quote, “the more solid residents at the Cliff and Long Branch say that the first big southeaster will send the whole of Mooneysville far out into the ocean.” End quote. Mooney had allegedly gotten a license for a refreshment stand to serve visitors to Ocean Beach and had given up on selling liquor. [00:23:00] But not surprisingly, a warrant was served for his arrest on December 28th, 1883, charging him.for selling liquor from his tent. He pled not guilty and demanded a jury trial when court resumed in January 1884.

Arnold: Although Mooney was regularly arrested on the complaints of the illegal sale of alcohol, the Park Commissioners claimed they couldn't eject the Mooneysville settlers because, quote, “they were on land between high and low watermark, which is property of the United States. They admit that all the buildings on the Great Highway are subject to destruction by police authority as being obstructions, but claim that none others can be displaced.” End quote. Also, they, these people down there start finding a way around this liquor issue. I love this. By selling expensive crackers and serving free beer with them.

Nicole: I know these guys are jerks, but like, [00:24:00] I'm so here for this. And I also love that the city was like, oh yeah, this is the federal government's problem. Like we're not, look, this is not our problem. Someone else can fix this. So, simultaneous to all this nonsense, A.P. Hotaling wanted a hotel next to Seal Rock House and in January 1884, the foundations, the stone foundations had been laid and the first floor was coming together. Mooneysville residents pointed to this as no different than their structures, except, you know, a super minor detail, which is that Hotaling owns the land on which he was building the Ocean Beach Pavilion.

Arnold: And listeners, if you know the answer to this, you can write in and let us know who got the name correct. Nicole was going with Ho-tall-ling. I went with Ho-to-ling.

Nicole: Oh gosh. I, the answer was always none [00:25:00] of us. Neither.

Arnold: By the end of January, the Park Commission ordered the settlers to leave, quote, “after the beach is entirely cleared, Mr. Pixley states the board will listen to applications for permission to locate respectable establishments on the grounds. He recognizes that the large number of pleasure seekers who visit the sands will need some refreshments, and he personally has no objections to lunch houses or strictly moral shows being located there.” End quote. The settlement lasted for about six months until it was taken down by the Golden Gate Park Commission and the San Francisco Police by February 1884.

Nicole: Yeah, and this feels like a good place to stop for today, even though it's only just beginning. But the major narratives that make Great Highway a complicated space are, are starting to take shape in this podcast. You've got real estate capitalists gambling on the fridges of San Francisco and trying to make a [00:26:00] buck. You've got the Park Commission dragged into the maintenance of a public road. And you've got one small subset of San Franciscans protesting how the land is used in this part of the city. And also, what occurred to me as we were recording this, we're still having discussions about the proper use of public space at the 24th Street BART Station, with vendors popping up who are unlicensed and wanting to share their goods with the community that clearly wants to buy some of those goods. And then, the city getting involved and telling them it's not done properly. So, these are all discussions that continue to happen in the City today.

Arnold: It just goes to show you the more things change, the more they stay the same. For about 150 years now,

Nicole: Which I don't know if that's encouraging or really depressing.

Arnold: What we are seeing clear as day as we keep researching this history is that ultimately these roads have never just been about [00:27:00] transit or public open space. They’re a mirror for the shifting priorities of the people who control the Outside Lands, which are as fluid as the sand beneath them. Whether they were bohemians or capitalists, saloon keepers or city engineers, landowners or shanty town squatters, or bicyclists, surfers or drag racers, today, Great Highway, it's gotten them all where they needed to go. So, stay tuned for the next part of this story whenever we get around sharing it.

Nicole: Always TBD. Well, what a wild ride to end the beginning origin story of the Great Highway. Now Arnold, what time is it?

Arnold: Say What Now! So, there's an 1864 map that shows no marked road along the coast and where the Cliff House is located. The land is owned by Herrick and Buckley. Herrick and Buckley was William [00:28:00] F. Harrick and John P. Buckley. They created the Point Lobos Toll Road, along with a bunch of other rich guys.

Nicole: You know what they say? Always follow the money, right? So, interesting story about John Buckley. He was a native of Albany, New York, who came to San Francisco in 1849 and became a state senator. He was also a financial backer of Charles C. Butler, who built the first Cliff House in tandem with the toll road in 1863. And Buckley's juice helped them get the franchise for the road’s creation and he also became a corporate officer of the Toll Road Company. Funny how things like that work out.

Arnold: Unfortunately, John P. Buckley actually died on November 17th, 1864. He had been injured when his ankle was caught in the coil of a rope during the launch of the ironclad monitor, USS Comanche, [00:29:00] that launched on November 14th of that year. His leg had to be amputated, but then he still ended up dying three days later. His obituary said, quote, “he ranked among the most prominent public benefactors in San Francisco. His loss will be deeply felt.” End quote. He was only 38 years old at that time.

Nicole: Man, every time people are like, wouldn't you like to live in olden times? And first of all, as a woman, I'm like, absolutely not. It's not great for me back then. But also, I'm like, people would die, from like minor injuries all the time. So, Buckley actually had an interest in the Phelan and Baker ranches where, which were out on Point Lobos Road. And this was just like wide open space. And all of that went to his brother Jeremiah. In 1869, John Buckley's widow Catherine sues Charles Butler, to be paid out for their one-third of the Point Lobos Rancho. [00:30:00] We think that they won in 1870? Although some of those legal cases, I was like, this is confusing. And also, is this family cursed or something? Look, as we kept researching, their 13-year-old daughter died after falling out a second story window in 1871. Then Jeremiah Buckley dies in March 1830, 1883, and I quote, “while extracting the powder from a gun car, gun cartridge shell, he was slightly wounded in the fingers of his right hand by a premature explosion. The wound gave him no inconvenience until a few days since when he presented symptoms of lock jaw.” Oh my gosh. Also, John P. Buckley, his son, dies at the age of 27 in April ’84. So like, this family is, like maybe has [00:31:00] the worst luck of all time.

Arnold: Maybe we need a podcast on them because there's clearly more to tell about the Buckley family.

Nicole: Yeah.

Arnold: But it seems that Sutro purchased their property in the 1880s. And the moral of the story, as you kind of set forth already, is don't get into a minor injury in the 19th century because it will almost definitely be fatal.

Nicole: I'm envisioning like some sort of six-part mini-series on HBO Max or something, that's like the Herricks and the Buckleys, and it's just like all about the Wild West sand dunes of San Francisco. You know, Kevin Costner has to be in it. Am I right?

Arnold: Yeah, it sounds about right.

Nicole: All right. Well, on that note, now it's time for listener mail.

Arnold: So, Nicole, how does one send us listener mail?

Nicole: It's super-duper easy. [00:32:00] You just email us. That's podcast@outsidelands.org. Or you can hit us up on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Cause we're on all of those.

Arnold: Now back in Podcast 464 on the 1876 Centennial in San Francisco, we asked our listeners to research a sea vessel called a plunger. And, boy oh boy, did you all respond.

Nicole: so many emails about this. Our good friend Margaret chimed in first. She said, “another fantastic podcast. Okay, I'm nothing but a boater wannabe, and I enjoy looking at boats from shore. Hence my revival of the Indoor Yacht Club to advocate and encourage yachting without experiencing the terrors of the sea.” She even came to visit us at the Cliff House and she has her own sweatshirt, which now I really want one Margaret. And I feel like we have to make this into a WNP merchandising situation. But anyways, she goes on [00:33:00] to say, “so this plunger talk got me very curious indeed,” and she found this definition, and I quote, “plungers are sailboats with jib and main sail about 30 feet long or less, and 10 feet wide. They had center boards, which is the kind of movable keel, very useful in shallow waters and holding a sailboat into the wind.” She also found a photo of a plunger on Lake Merritt at the Bancroft Library and an 1873 advertisement for the plunger, “Young Greek,” good for freight or pleasure. And she also points out that Charlie, the history poodle says, “no, fireworks are not universally enjoyed,” like we pointed out on our 1876 Centennial Podcast.

Arnold: Yeah, I think that's pretty much the reaction of all dogs.

Nicole: It's true. Sorry for overlocking, overlooking [00:34:00] our furriest historian friends.

Arnold: Besides Margaret, Paul Judge and David Friedlander also wrote in with comprehensive definitions of what a plunger was. So, ask and ye shall receive. I'd also like to remind you, once again, that we are planning a Playland Memories podcast. It's coming up on Labor Day weekend. So, if you had the pleasure of visiting Playland before it closed in 1972, we wanna hear your memories of it. We're gonna have some people actually appear on the podcast to relate those memories. Other ones, we will just read what they had to write about it. So, if you have visited Playland, write to podcast@outsideland.org and tell us your Playland story.

Nicole: Absolutely. We wanna hear this. And now Arnold, maybe it's a good time to talk about the benefits of membership and donating.

Arnold: [00:35:00] So, you know what you get if you become a member? You get a quarterly membership magazine. You get discounts on events. And you get some other I exclusive perks. But, the biggest get is that your membership supports all the good work we do and make available for free. That includes OpenSFHistory.org, which is a big, huge trove, over 54,000 historic photos of San Francisco. Your membership helps keep our scanning and ongoing interpretation going. Then there's, of course, the Cliff House collection, which has become its own world, it seems for us these days.

Nicole: Oh my gosh. It is.

Arnold: But it requires money for its care and exhibition. And then, you know, if you're listening to this podcast, we hope that means you like it. And we make it available for free to everybody. And we hope that you will help support this podcast [00:36:00] by either becoming a member or making a donation to us. We have big buttons at the top of every page on outsidelands.org for donations and membership.

Nicole: Yep. And I can't tell you how many times people join as new members and saying, you finally wore me down on the podcast. I'm always like, thank you?

Arnold: Yeah. This is, we're what, up to podcast 468 now? So, I don't know that, if we were asking for members way back at the very beginning, but there's probably at least 300 times that we asked for you to become a member or make a donation.

Nicole: And we just issued WNP member number 2000!

Arnold: Nice.

Nicole: Just to be clear though, we do not have 2000 active members.

Arnold: The 2000th person who's become a member.

Nicole: Yes.

Arnold: Not all of them being members at the same time.

Nicole: In [00:37:00] the entire lifespan of Western Neighborhoods Project, 2000 people have chosen to at least initially start membership with us.

Arnold: So, if you join today, you can become member 2001.

Nicole: [singing] In the year 2001.

Arnold: What'll be big is when we get to have a member that's in a number greater than the year we're in.

Nicole: Oh, that is math I can't do with my historian brain. So, one member at a time though, Arnold. Okay, now it feels like a good time that we've harangued you to, to support our work, let's get into announcements so you can tell, we can tell you all about the good work we're doing.

Arnold: I like it.

Nicole: Woo.

Arnold: And we have some breaking news.

Nicole: Yep.

Arnold: It seems that Outside Lands San Francisco, the podcast of the Western Neighborhoods Project, is no longer going to be just a podcast. It's also [00:38:00] going to be a broadcast.

Nicole: Woohoo. Look at that. Look what you did.

Arnold: We are so excited to join forces with the San Francisco Public Press, who will be broadcasting episodes of our little podcast that could, citywide through Sutro Tower. We started last weekend, July 30th. And you can hear now the WNP podcast on 102.5 every Saturday at 7:00 PM and Sunday at 9:00 AM. So, whether you like to wind down or wake up with WNP, KSFP has you covered.

Nicole: I can't think of a better transition to other places in San Francisco. They also stream it online through their website. So, we're very excited to partner with this community radio effort. And you know what else we're doing in August, which we haven't done for a while?

Arnold: What's that?

Nicole: We're getting back into event mode and we're really exc,ited. We're starting our WNP History [00:39:00] Hopper, Happy Hours again. This time it's in person. So, you're familiar with the format, right? You'll be, there's me. We'll sometimes have my good friend Chelsea Sellin. And we'll enjoy adult beverages and we'll chat with local historians, artists, longtime west side residents whose name you don't even know. Other surprise guests, things like this. And this will be Wednesday evenings at The Museum at The Cliff. So, our first one is August 10th at 6:00 PM. We'd like you to come to the Cliff House after hours. We will serve you drinks and some light refreshments. And we'll be hanging out with Patrick Moser. Of course, he is the author of Surf and Rescue: George Freeth and the Birth of California Beach Culture. He'll talk about how beach culture is connected to Sutro Baths. How George Freeth taught Duke Kahanamoku, who we did talk about on a prior podcast about the Pacific Coast Swimming Championships at Sutro Baths in 1913. [00:40:00] He's a lovely guy. It's going to be a wonderful experience. And we will have copies of Surf and Rescue for sale at the event. I literally came home today and found 60 copies of his book on my front doorstep. Shout out to the University of Illinois Press, who got that out the front door very quickly. So again, doors open at 6:00. Check in, and the main program start at 6:30. This is free for WNP members. In fact, all of our events are free through the month of August for WNP members. That will not be true in September. But if you're not a member, it's $30 a ticket. And crazy, wouldn't you know it, membership start at $50 a ticket. So, if you are interested in going to several events at the Cliff House this month, I encourage you to join as a member because it just makes financial sense. [00:41:00]

Arnold: Now, you mentioned that this History Happy Hour is happening at The Museum at The Cliff. Well turns, seems The Museum at The Cliff is still going on every weekend. The new exhibition is called Naiad Cove, curated by John Lindsey of the Great Highway Gallery. And our own Nicole curated the historic artifacts for that exhibit. It opened, it opened on weekend, or is open on weekends till August 21st. Oops!

Nicole: Oops, oops. Another major announcement coming!

Arnold: We meant to say, it is open on weekends until September 25th, because we got extended! So the museum is free, but because of capacity limitations, you should reserve your spot, which you can do by going to the events page on our website outsidelands.org. However, you can walk in and register. You do that when you show up there by going into the gift shop first, and we can register you unless for some reason there's just a whole load of people there [00:42:00] that day and too many for us to actually accept walk-ins. So that's why you should reserve your ticket first.

Nicole: Yeah. And I will say we've been, last weekend, we were Saturday, it was like, it was around 230 people for the entire day, and we had over 250 people too, the next day. So, this is, we're getting a lot of press coverage. Thank you. NBC Bay Area. Thank you. KALW. It's been a real joy to welcome everybody back to the Cliff House. You do have to wear masks also, per federal regulations right now. And we look forward to seeing you soon. Also, if you would like to volunteer to help us keep the doors open. We very much need docents. We have a great crew, but we were sad to find that several things went missing on Sunday that we were last open. Which means we need some more eyes to make sure people don't [00:43:00] take things from the museum. Which I'm very sad we have to announce. So please, one, don't take anything from our museum and two, please help out if you can by volunteering with us. You can email me, nicole@outsidelands.org if you're interested.

Arnold: And while you are on our events page signing up to go see The Museum at The Cliff, you can also check out other upcoming events. Like curator tours of the museum, some John Martini-led history walks, and even some more History Happy Hours with Woody LaBounty and Reino Niemela, Jr.

Nicole: Woody's totally sold out.

Arnold: Oh. Well, too late for you then. You can't sign up for that one anymore.

Nicole: Yep.

Arnold: Anyway, details for all these can be found on that very same Events page at outsidelands.org/events.

Nicole: And are we gonna, are we gonna try, well, what's the preview for next week [00:44:00] Arnold?

Arnold: Yeah, I'm hesitant to say it will be about Laguna Honda. You know, we usually, every third week, we have that interview. So, maybe we'll say it'll be a mystery interview of somebody that you'd like to hear from.

Nicole: We have our eye on you. Laguna Honda. One day. One day. Well, thank you, Arnold. This has been a joy as always.

Arnold: Absolutely Nicole. Enjoy being here with you. And until next time.

Nicole: Thank you listeners. We'll, we’ll talk to you again soon.

Arnold: Bye now.

Nicole: Goodnight.

Ian: Outside Lands San Francisco is recorded by Ian Hadley. Content creation and media production at ihadley.com.

Nicole: To learn more about the Western Neighborhoods Project and more on San Francisco history, go to Outsidelands.org. You can also find us on social media at Facebook, which is outsidelands with an S, at Twitter, which is outsidelandz with a Z, and on Instagram, which is outsidelandz, also with a Z. And check out our historic San Francisco images website at OpenSFHistory.org.

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