clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

City College Used to be the Site of a City Jail

New, 1 comment

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.

San Francisco's City College may be plagued by problems lately, but over 150 years ago the site served a very different kind of youth. Opening in 1859, the San Francisco Industrial School operated as an institution to deal with neglected, abandoned, and delinquent children under the age of 16.

After the height of the Gold Rush, San Francisco had a major problem with juvenile crime. At today's San Jose and Ocean avenues, the House of Refuge occupied 100 acres (now the site of Balboa Park and City College). The Industrial school opened in 1859, and expanded in 1865. Despite its name, the school didn't teach industrial arts, but instead wanted to rehabilitate kids to be "industrious". The whole idea was modeled after east coast schools that aimed at rehabilitating and sheltering wayward kids. Originally the school was coed, but the inevitable hanky-panky forced The Sisters of Mercy to open a separate girls facility, the Madgalan Asylum on Potrero Avenue near 21st Street, The lot was eventually split by the San Francisco-San Jose Railroad, today Highway 280. The Balboa Park part of the site east of the railroad was used as agricultural lands for the students.

By the 1870s, a House of Correction (later called the Ingleside Jail) was added to the site to house adult criminals whose crimes required less serious punishment than San Quentin and could be reformed. The two buildings sat next to each other where today's City College football field is located. Both jails had terrible reputations as mismanaged with horrendous conditions for its inmates. Formal State Reform schools opened in other parts of California around 1890, and the Industrial school closed, only to later be converted into a women's jail. The building was damaged in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, and half of it was razed.

Soon other parts of the original House of Refuge lot were deeded to other city agencies, including Balboa Park and a police station. By the 1930s, neighborhoods had started to form around the formerly remote location, and the Ingleside Jail was determined too dangerous as a wooden building susceptible to fire. A new county jail was built in San Mateo County nearby today's Skyline College. The old jail buildings were demolished, making way for the construction of City College.

· The Ingleside Jail-- A Narrated Time Line [sfsdhistory]
· The House of Refuge Lot [Western Neighborhoods Project]
· San Francisco's Ocean View, Merced Heights, and Ingleside (OMI) Neighborhoods 1862 - 1959 [Western Neighborhoods Project]
· The San Francisco Industrial School and the Origins of Juvenile Justice in California: A Glance at the Great Reformation [UC Davis]
The Lost Railroad Tracks of the Mission and Noe Valley [Curbed SF]

City College: Main Campus

50 Phelan Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112