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.
Corona Heights Park sits above Eureka Valley and offers one of the best views and hiking spots in the city. But in its earliest days the area then known as Rocky Hill was known for its brickmaking quarry run by the infamous Gray Brothers.
George and Harry Gray established their quarry and brick factory on Corona Heights in the 1899. They also ran quarries on Telegraph Hill and Billy Goat Hill, and were notorious for their shoddy workmanship, not paying their workers, and dangerous conditions. The rock blasting was known to injury people and cause homes to collapse. Their work was so poor that substandard bricks used in cable car beds had to be ripped out and replaced. In 1914, George Gray was murdered by a former employee who was owed $17.50 in back wages. An unsympathetic jury acquitted the defendant.
The brick factory at the Corona Heights quarry was located on the south side of the hill. The kiln burned during the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, but quarrying continued once it was repaired. The quarry operations closed down after George's death, but the streets that wound down the steep hills from the kilns remained and many were filled in with residential development. The foundations of the old brick factory can still be seen above States Street and below the playground on the south side of the hill.
In 1928 Josephine Randall, the Recreation Superintendent of San Francisco, proposed that the City buy the 16 acres of Rock Hill for recreation, and it was purchased and named Corona Heights in 1941. The Randall Museum has been in the park since 1951, focusing on the culture and environment of the San Francisco Bay Area, and offers arts and sciences classes.
· A Little Something For Everyone at Corona Heights Park [Curbed SF Archives]
· Corona Heights Park [SF Rec & Park]
· Corona Heights Park [ParkScan]
· Corona Heights and the Randall Museum, S.F. [SF Gate]