clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Before Glen Park, There Was "Little Switzerland"

Public spaces change fast here in San Francisco, and for better or worse, it can be pretty crazy when you see what the City used to look like. Every week, we'll bring you Then & Now, a comparison of historic photos of the Bay Area with current views from the same perspective. Have a suggestion for a photo comparison that looks totally different (or shockingly the same)? Drop us a tip in the Curbed Inbox or leave a comment after the jump.

Quick note: See that vertical green bar in the middle of the then and now photos? You can move it horizontally to see the photos side by side.

[1908 Then photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY/ Now photo: Bing Maps] Glen Park, the family friendly neighborhood with seemingly endless adorable little houses, seems to evoke this small-town-within-a-city vibe. Originally built up as vacation homes and known as "Little Switzerland", it wasn't until street cars reached the area and refugees from the 1906 Earthquake and Fire needed housing that it really became a thriving neighborhood.

Glen Park began as ranch land, with farms and dairies sprouting up in the mid-late 1800's. The natural beauty of the area inspired wealthy citizens to build weekend vacation houses in the area, and the scenic landscape coupled with the existing Swiss-owned dairies earned it the nickname "Little Switzerland." During the summer, Glen Park basically operated as a weekend resort, with picnics, dances, and carnival shows.


The electric railway was established in 1892 and easily connected the then-distant area to downtown and the ferries. Glen Park escaped the 1906 Earthquake and Fire relatively unharmed, and many refugees relocated there. Once businesses and homes were up and running again, many refugees decided to stay in the area and purchased inexpensive lots. Due to its remote location and lack of city services, residential developments were marketed to working-class people. Real estate ads at the time showed small cottages, many of which are still common in the area

· Glen Park: SF's 'Little Switzerland' [Found SF]
· The Architecture and Social History: San Francisco's Glen Park [SFAA]
· Previous Coverage of Glen Park [Curbed SF]