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Midtown Terrace, "Like a Page from the Arabian Nights"

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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.





[Then photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY/ Now photo: Midtown Terrace Homeowners Association] One of the youngest neighborhoods in San Francisco, Midtown Terrace is tucked onto the western slopes of Twin Peaks. Created as a single housing development between 1953 and 1960, it transformed open space into a neighborhood of single family houses. By the 1960s, it was fully built out.

1950's sales brochure for Midtown Terrace [Photo: Western Neighborhoods Project]

This one is more of a Then & A Little Bit Later Then, since today the same vantage point is blocked by trees today. Formerly part of Adolph Sutro's land, the site that would become Midtown Terrace was part of a larger area sold off in pieces to developers by Sutro's heirs. In 1953, brothers Carl and Fred Gellert of the Standard Building Company (who had developed other swaths of the western neighborhoods in the 1930s-1960s) began construction of about 800 modest two- and three-bedroom single-family homes on 150 acres.

Interior view from 1950's sales brochure for Midtown Terrace [Photo: Western Neighborhoods Project]

The slopes had to be graded, with some 600,000 cubic yards of earth moved. The western slope was mapped into seven different levels so all the houses could take advantage of the view. Houses were sold for $17-20K, with the deluxe going for $29K. They sold basically as fast as they were constructed. Eventually a new elementary school was constructed nearby, along with the Midtown Terrace playground atop the Sutro Reservoir.

Midtown Terrace today [Photo: Streetadvisor]

Some of the original owners still live in the neighborhood, having bought their houses new in the 1950s. The homeowners association that formed with the development still exists, with every home owner in the neighborhood a member. Things look pretty much the same today, maybe with bigger trees and newer cars. The modestly sized single-family homes are selling for $6-900K, making them some of the more reasonably priced in the city. If the killer views are something you're interested in, just keep in mind MUNI is pretty limited with only one bus going directly through the 'hood. Otherwise, a home purchase here means a yard, some 50's charm, and a tight knit community.
· A Brief History of Midtown Terrace [Western Neighborhood Project]
· Midtown Terrace Homeowners Association [MTHA]
· Midtown Terrace Playground [Curbed SF]
· Midtown Terrace Listings [Zillow]