landscapes of mobility

Historic Photos

The San Francisco Public Library has a fantastic collection of on-line photographs. A small selection of Mission District streetscape photos:

van ness horsecar

A horsecar on South Van Ness Avenue (then called Howard Street) near 25th Street. The very first horsecar line through the Mission ran along Valencia Street beginning in 1860. Horsecar lines were later replaced in the Mission with cable cars and electric streetcars beginning in 1883 and 1891 respectively.


This block of Bartlett Street looking north to 21st Street is one of the most transformed streetscapes within the study area. All buildings to the left are gone, replaced with a 50-unit low-income housing complex. Only a few of the residences to the right remain, most others were replaced to make room for the back side of businesses fronting Mission Street, including the New Mission Theater, Giant Value parking lot, and the Mission mall. The sidewalks were narrowed in 1940 in order to provide angled parking for Mission Street shoppers.

Capp St widening

The sidewalks on Capp Street were narrowed in 1939-1940 from 15 to 9 feet. This photograph shows black tubing laid by WPA workers to demarcate the new curb location.

Capp St widening

Cutting back of sidewalks in progress on Capp Street. The sidewalks were cut back to ease traffic congestion for shoppers along the Mission Miracle Mile.

Cesar Chavez Widening

Street widening on Cesar Chavez (formerly Army) Street at Harrison Street. In order to make room for increased automobile capacity the sidewalks were narrowed and the street right of way expanded into adjacent private property. Entire houses were moved to make way for the widened street. This widening project occurred in stages beginning in the late 1930s.


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