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The Arches of Fillmore Street

Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series titled Hidden History, where Curbed highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.

The Fillmore Arches c1908 [SF Fillmore]

The stretch of Fillmore Street between Fulton and Sacramento has long been a buzzing commercial strip. The businesses and residents have changed through the years, and one prominent feature from the early 20th century is no longer there - the Fillmore Arches.

Once San Francisco started to expand in the 1880s, the Western Addition became a residential neighborhood with a central commercial district along Fillmore. After the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, many residents relocated to the Fillmore area, including large populations of Japanese, Jewish, and African-Americans. An association of Fillmore merchants called the Fillmore Street Improvement Association erected 14 illuminated iron arches in 1907 at each intersection of Fillmore Street between Fulton and Sacramento, in an attempt to bring shoppers back to the area. The massive arches cast light along the entire street, earning it the reputation as one of the most illuminated streets in America.

Metal arches on Fillmore Street being dismantled for use as scrap metal, 1943 [SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]

In 1943, in an effort to support the WWII effort, the Fillmore Street arches were dismantled and melted down for scrap iron.
· The Fillmore [PBS]
· Fillmore: Forever New [The New Fillmore]