Before the gay beach. Before tech company trashings. Before the truffle man. Before turning into San Francisco’s most popular weekend draw, Dolores Park played host to numerous events, good and bad, over the years. And OpenSFHistory—boasts a trove of historic photos that deserve a deep dive from any SF diehard—reveals what the early days looked like at the park.
Long home to American Indians of the Ohlone tribe, the area became the spot two two Jewish cemeteries in the mid-1800s.
“[The Ohlone] had inhabited the area for several centuries before Spanish missionaries arrived in 1776 to establish Mission San Francisco Dolores,” notes Dolores Park Works. “Thereafter, the Ohlone shared the land with Spanish ranchers and shopkeepers until the 1849 Gold Rush, when new settlers, gamblers, and tavern keepers joined the mix.”
In 1861, the site was purchased by Congregation Sherith Israel for two cemeteries, which later went inactive in 1894.
After becoming an official park in the early 20th century, Dolores Park served as a temporary home for earthquake refugees. Years later, it underwent a renovation with such alluring trappings as a wading pool, sprawling green lawns, tennis courts, and the installation of the J-Church line.
Most recently, the sunny spread benefitted from a much-needed makeover.
This year the park will celebrate 150 years, according to SFGate, with an official Dolores Park Weekend planned for May. Before springtime hits, take a look back—way back—to what Dolores Park looked like during San Francisco’s sepia-toned days.