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.
Bay View Park in 1869 [Photo: SF Planning (pdf)]
When the Bayview was the working-class neighborhood of South San Francisco, the area was made accessible by the Long Bridge, a wooden structure that crossed Mission Bay in 1865. The bridge stretched all the way down to the Victorian ornate Bay View Race Track and Park. Nevada City mining millionaire George Hearst (yeah, those Hearsts) funded the construction, complete with a very fancy hotel.
At the time, horseracing was a very popular (and profitable) San Francisco weekend activity. The soggy marshland provided an ideal spot for the track, as it was thought to be good conditions for the horses. The track was built at the end of the Potrero & Bay View Railroad (now Third Street). Folk rode the Potrero and Bay View Railway down what's now Third Street and Kentucky Streets across Islais Creek to the track at the end of the line.
Potrero and Bay View Railway, at the end of its line in 1867 (Bay View Park Hotel is in the background - for a more detailed hotel photo click here) [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]
Bay View Park didn't last long - the hotel burned down by the early 1880s and the race track was abandoned as the tides tended to overtake it. The site is now home to the Bay View Playground, at Third Street between Armstrong & Carroll Streets.
· Walking on Water - A History of Mission Bay [UCSF]
· Historic Context Statement: Bayview Hunters Point (pdf) [SF Planning]
· Mission Bay Gazeteer of Historic Places [Found SF]
· What Was Once a Bar is Now a KFC/Taco Bell in Bayview [Curbed SF]