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Diving Into San Francisco Street Names

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[Photo: Marcin Winchary]

This week Hayes Wire featured an awesome history of the name origins of many Hayes Valley streets. Inspired by their interesting research, we thought we'd expand on it and take a look at the history behind street names throughout the city. Curious about one that didn't make our initial list? Leave a comment or drop us a note at the Curbed tipline and we'll happily update.


· Lewis Levenstein's "Streets of San Francisco: The Origins of Street and Place Names" (1984)
· Erwin Gustav Gudde's "California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names" (1960)

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1. Lombard Street

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1000 Lombard Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Named in 1839 by a Swiss sailor and surveyor for the same street in New York, which no longer exists. The name itself stems from the Lombards, a Germanic people who founded their kingdom in northern Italy in 568 AD. [Photo: seanosh]

2. Haight Street

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1504 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
[Photo: cliff1066]

3. Castro Street

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429 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

After General Jose Castro, one time commander of all the Spanish forces in California. After occupation by American forces, he was the most active opponent to the US rule. [Photo: Franco Folini]

4. The Embarcadero

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99 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105

The Spanish term for “landing place” was commonly used during the Spanish times and has survived in many places throughout California. [Photo: Eric Heath]

5. Geary Boulevard

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2121 Geary Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94115

John W. Geary came to San Francisco after the Mexican war. In 1849 he was Postmaster, then Alcalde, and in 1850 was selected the first Mayor of the city. [Photo: Franco Folini]

6. Taraval Avenue

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900 Taraval Street
San Francisco, CA 94116

Named for Juan Bautista de Anza’s Indian guide in 1776. Some reports say the name comes from Sigismundo Taraval, a Jesuit missionary in Baja. [Photo: Librarygroover]

7. Funston Avenue

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1201 Funston Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94122

Takes the place of what would be 13th Ave, named instead to avoid the evils superstitiously associated with 13. Named in 1923 for Brigadier General Frederick Funston, acting commander of the Army in the days after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. [Photo: Marcin Wichary]

8. O'Shaughnessy Boulevard

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70 Elk Street
San Francisco, CA 94131

Named after Michael Maurice, City Engineer of San Francisco, responsible for many tunnels, boulevards, and streetcar systems throughout the city, as well as the Hetch Hetchy water and sewer system. [Photo: Living New Deal]

9. Alemany Boulevard

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1850 Alemany Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94112

Archbishop Joseph S. Alemany was the first archbishop of San Francisco in 1853, a post which he held for 31 years. [Photo: SF Streets Blog]

10. Valencia Street

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900 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

For either Jose Manuel Valencia, a soldier in Juan Bautista de Anza’s company, or his son Candelario, a soldier in the military service at the Presidio. [Photo: Payton Chung]

11. Cervantes Boulevard

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101 Cervantes Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94123

Named for famed Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet Miguel de Cervantes (of Don Quixote fame). [Photo: sfnestcube]

12. Noe Street

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1120 Noe Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

After Jose de Jesus Noe, the last Alcalde under Mexican rule. He owned a 4,000 acre ranch in the center of present-day San Francisco. [Photo: apasciuto]

13. Innes Avenue

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900 Innes Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94124

Named for George Innes, the 19th century American landscape painter [Photo: Found SF]

14. Terry A. Francois Boulevard

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869 Terry A Francois Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94158

The first African American to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1964 to 1977, Terry Francois was an attorney who helped to win a major case against the San Francisco Housing Authority’s discriminatory policies. Originally known as China Basin Street, it was renamed in 1992. [Photo: Eric Broder Van Dyke]

15. Lincoln Highway

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1299 El Camino Del Mar
San Francisco, CA 94121

The Lincoln Highway is one of the first transcontinental highways for cars across the US. Conceived in 1913 the country’s first national memorial to Abraham Lincoln, it starts in NYC at Times Square and terminates in Lincoln Park near Lands End. In SF, it snakes from the Hyde Street Pier to North Point Street, Van Ness to California, all the way down California to 32nd Ave, and follows El Camino del Mar to the terminus in Lincoln Park. [Photo: The Lincoln Highway Association]

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1. Lombard Street

1000 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

Named in 1839 by a Swiss sailor and surveyor for the same street in New York, which no longer exists. The name itself stems from the Lombards, a Germanic people who founded their kingdom in northern Italy in 568 AD. [Photo: seanosh]

1000 Lombard Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

2. Haight Street

1504 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
[Photo: cliff1066]
1504 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

3. Castro Street

429 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

After General Jose Castro, one time commander of all the Spanish forces in California. After occupation by American forces, he was the most active opponent to the US rule. [Photo: Franco Folini]

429 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

4. The Embarcadero

99 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

The Spanish term for “landing place” was commonly used during the Spanish times and has survived in many places throughout California. [Photo: Eric Heath]

99 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105

5. Geary Boulevard

2121 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94115

John W. Geary came to San Francisco after the Mexican war. In 1849 he was Postmaster, then Alcalde, and in 1850 was selected the first Mayor of the city. [Photo: Franco Folini]

2121 Geary Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94115

6. Taraval Avenue

900 Taraval Street, San Francisco, CA 94116

Named for Juan Bautista de Anza’s Indian guide in 1776. Some reports say the name comes from Sigismundo Taraval, a Jesuit missionary in Baja. [Photo: Librarygroover]

900 Taraval Street
San Francisco, CA 94116

7. Funston Avenue

1201 Funston Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122

Takes the place of what would be 13th Ave, named instead to avoid the evils superstitiously associated with 13. Named in 1923 for Brigadier General Frederick Funston, acting commander of the Army in the days after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. [Photo: Marcin Wichary]

1201 Funston Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94122

8. O'Shaughnessy Boulevard

70 Elk Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

Named after Michael Maurice, City Engineer of San Francisco, responsible for many tunnels, boulevards, and streetcar systems throughout the city, as well as the Hetch Hetchy water and sewer system. [Photo: Living New Deal]

70 Elk Street
San Francisco, CA 94131

9. Alemany Boulevard

1850 Alemany Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94112

Archbishop Joseph S. Alemany was the first archbishop of San Francisco in 1853, a post which he held for 31 years. [Photo: SF Streets Blog]

1850 Alemany Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94112

10. Valencia Street

900 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

For either Jose Manuel Valencia, a soldier in Juan Bautista de Anza’s company, or his son Candelario, a soldier in the military service at the Presidio. [Photo: Payton Chung]

900 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

11. Cervantes Boulevard

101 Cervantes Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94123

Named for famed Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet Miguel de Cervantes (of Don Quixote fame). [Photo: sfnestcube]

101 Cervantes Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94123

12. Noe Street

1120 Noe Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

After Jose de Jesus Noe, the last Alcalde under Mexican rule. He owned a 4,000 acre ranch in the center of present-day San Francisco. [Photo: apasciuto]

1120 Noe Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

13. Innes Avenue

900 Innes Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94124

Named for George Innes, the 19th century American landscape painter [Photo: Found SF]

900 Innes Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94124

14. Terry A. Francois Boulevard

869 Terry A Francois Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94158

The first African American to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1964 to 1977, Terry Francois was an attorney who helped to win a major case against the San Francisco Housing Authority’s discriminatory policies. Originally known as China Basin Street, it was renamed in 1992. [Photo: Eric Broder Van Dyke]

869 Terry A Francois Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94158

15. Lincoln Highway

1299 El Camino Del Mar, San Francisco, CA 94121

The Lincoln Highway is one of the first transcontinental highways for cars across the US. Conceived in 1913 the country’s first national memorial to Abraham Lincoln, it starts in NYC at Times Square and terminates in Lincoln Park near Lands End. In SF, it snakes from the Hyde Street Pier to North Point Street, Van Ness to California, all the way down California to 32nd Ave, and follows El Camino del Mar to the terminus in Lincoln Park. [Photo: The Lincoln Highway Association]

1299 El Camino Del Mar
San Francisco, CA 94121