Back in the Day

Well Duh

1915 Woman's Journal Takes On the Mission: "It Is the Only Place"

A piece published in the Young Woman’s Journal just ahead of the 1915 world’s fair sure does paint a fine portrait of The City.  Clearly aimed at selling the influx of tourists for the fair on the merits of San Francisco—and to warn them about our delightfully cruel summers—the old school advertorial takes us on the ferry across the “glistening bay,” through the bustle down, and around the Chinatown, Portola, Fillmore, and “Valley” neighborhoods.  But the part that stood out to us covered our neighborhood du jour, The Mission.

“Pepper trees droop tenderly over the walks and date palms sigh in the wind,” the essay boasts. “Why not live in the ‘Mission?’  Those who do swear it is the only place.”

How little has changed.  Neighborhood pride rightfully runs high here, and leaving the Mission for any reason causes a borderline panic attack.

But here’s the flip:

And now I shall tell you a secret.  Many years ago the “Mission” was inhabited by the rich and society folk.  Now they have moved to San Mateo, to Burlinggame and to Knob Hill.  In their decaying mansions and near by them live a great mass of the working class, “poor people” as the Charities call them.  By these poor people enjoy life.  They work during the day, whistling and singing.  In the evening they wash their faces, slick down their hair, and tighten their collars in preparation for their recreation.

Singing and dancing, theaters upon theaters, chorus girls’ contests, and some of the cheapest goods in the city.  These poor people enjoy life.

Beyond the Mission, the piece concludes perfectly:

Ah. yes, San Francisco, you are wonderful.  Your chilly climate, your wind, your fog and your dirt but prove that you have not yet acquired immortality.  Your sea, your hills, your sky and your flowers touch upon the divine. Dazzling San Francisco, you are a rare, resplendent gem.  You are the city of enchantment—the city that beckons the world.

Below, the sections dealing with the Mission (but you can nerd out and read the entire essay on Google Books):

[via Matt Graves]

Why Are There So Many Old Funeral Homes on Valencia?

I've occasionally wondered why there are so many old funeral homes on Valencia, especially given you cannot so much as ditch the dead beneath your floorboards in this town.  I always figured there are a disproportionate number of people who have heart attacks when they see the line at Tacolicious, but it turns out the reason is far more grim than that (and dates back to the old Southern Pacific railway that crossed the Mission):

The Valencia Station at 25th and Valencia (SW corner) was perhaps the most popular stop in the city for the living and the dead. The railroad was the only transportation option for many families to the cemetery and gravesite in Colma. After San Francisco passed ordinances on burying the dead within city limits, the city began evicting all the corpses from earlier cemeteries built around the city. Valencia Street became the area where undertakers and mortuary and funeral businesses were established. The railroad ceased carrying passengers in the 1920's but continued to haul out the dead from Valencia Station until the early 1940's!

I guess that also explains why Clooney's is haunted.


Chipotle's Roots in the Mission

Everyone in San Francisco knows Chipotle is the worst.  They took the Mission Burrito, dumbed it down to a Mission-inspired burrito, and then made it acceptable to the flavor palette of New Englanders.  Now Chipotle's founder is richer than God, and credits his success to Colorado and his generous father.

This doesn't sit well with San Francisco's burrito lineage, who played an untold role in building the 11 billion dollar company.  Casey Deeha of the Bay Area Review of Burritos (a must read for anyone remotely interested in foil-wrapped tube food, by the way) caught up with El Faro's Hugo Ontiveros, the son of Mission-style burrito forefather Febronio Ontiveros, for some background on the matter:

If you navigate your way to the 'Chipotle Story' tab on their website, you'll find three sections: 'The Chipotle Story', 'Where Did We Come From', and 'Steve's Story'. Clicking on any one of them will reveal anything from neat little animations showing the beginnings of the chain to a piece of lined school paper on which Steve Ells writes a first hand account of his humble story - in courier type font no less. In all instances, Steve Ells and Chipotlesauraus begins in Colorado when Steve used an $85,000 investment from his father to convert a Madison ice cream parlour into a taqueria. And this is true - he did begin in Colorado. However, “beginnings” are never as straight forward as one thinks and Ells' pre-beginnings place him in San Francisco, where according to Hugo, he frequented the taquerias of the Mission while working as a line chef at Stars in the Civic Center shortly after attending the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Hugo went on to explain that there is no doubt that Ells often visited the taquerias of the Mission, including  El Faro, to not only enjoy the burritos, but also to “study” the methods says Ontiveros.  Hugo, of course, is not alone in making this suggestion. David A. Kaplan from CNN writes, “Ells loved the little taquerías in the Mission District and decided to open one back in Colorado, where he'd grown up.” Ells himself, in an interview with Jessica Shambora with CNN Money, stated:

“One day, while sitting in a taqueria called Zona Rosa close to my house, I watched how the line crew took care of people in very short order. I took out a napkin and jotted down what I thought the average check was and how many people were going through the line, and I timed it. I thought, Wow, this thing makes a lot of money — it could be a little cash cow that could fund my real restaurant. My dad gave me $85,000 — part loan, part equity. I packed up within a couple of weeks and drove back to Colorado. It was the summer of 1992. The first Chipotle opened in Denver on July 13, 1993.”

While Zona Rosa, as we all know, is on Haight St. and not the Mission, Ontiveros goes on to say that Ells frequented many taquerias in the Mission with the same purpose in mind. Ontiveros goes on to point out that, 'there was no competition in Colorado' as far as quality taquerias were concerned, which propelled Chipotle to quickly gain the revenue to attract investors such as McDonalds and then rule the mexican fast food chain world.

The resentment doesn't stem from Ells' lifting of El Faro's “classic” burrito-building methodology, according to Deeha.  Instead, the absence of any mention of the Mission in 'Chipotle's Story' is what really bothers Ontiveros.

Meanwhile, on Cinco de Mayo, Chipotle was found on Market Street in the Castro, “bribing” passersby with brownbags of chips and guacamole in exchange for signing a petition in support of bringing the restaurant even closer to its ancestral home.

[BARB, and also check out their review of the Chipotle on Lakeshore Ave. in Oakland]

The History of SF Bars Through Vintage Matchbooks

We're big fans of aging bar memorabilia here at Uptown Almanac.  And while we've explored many digital ways to look back, there are still a few resources that have slipped past us.  One of those is this thorough and well-preserved archive of 500+ matchbooks from years past.  Tuffy, Pop's bar manager, fills us in on the find:

Pop's 10 year anniversary is coming up and I was trying to find some old pics and I came across a Flickr set of old SF matchbooks. Pretty cool to go through. I don't know the exact dates of most of these, but they probably range from the 40's-60's.  Here are some other interesting ones I found:

  • I found a matchbook for 2830 24th for a bar called “Dante's Inferno” — that was most recently the World Pioneer Video.
  • There used to be a bar at 2830 24th between Bryant and Florida called the Green Lantern -  26oz beer $0.10!

  • A little further up in Noe on 24th—The Dubliner used to be the Valley Cavern (Sidenote: the Google Map for that address is pretty good!)

Tuffy's finds sure are choice.  Here are a few more:

A matchbook for the long-defunct San Francisco Baseball Club outside of Seals' Stadium and another for the almost equally long-defunct La Rondalla.

Art & Charlie's previously occupied what is now Latin American Club, and Blue Bird Cafe was either at the site of El Trebol or in the row of buildings that burned down in the 60's, making the US Bank Building's parking lot.

You should already be plenty aware of these two bars…

Bernal Club at the foot of Bernal's south slope advised patrons to “have fun while you're still in the pink” and a waffle house in SOMA would turn you into a starved horse, apparently.

Finally, a bunch of fancy (fancy!) places sprung to have art printed right on the matches themselves.

Anyway, take a look at the entire collection yourself.  And should you want to celebrate Pop's 10 year anniversary, swing by 24th and York on March 23rd for “free beer and stuff” (including, we're sure, Pop's newest matchbooks).

(Thanks, Tuffy!) [All Scans by ussiwojima]

Celebrating the 49ers Win (In 1982)

With spirits running high before the Super Bowl, the Chronicle dug up a bunch of photos of the 1982 celebration.  While there's not a whole lot of burning buses or panicking authorities, there sure was a lot of dancing on cars and public consumption of alcohol:

Plus, there's some quality shots of Mission Street's then-active theater row.

Do check 'em out.

[SFgate, via SFist]

The Lovable Scumbags of 1970s La Lengua

With San Francisco's resident population of immaculate assholes ever hungry for microhood coverage, SF Chronicle columnist Carl Nolte took a page out of The Hold Phallic's microhood-drizzled playbook and explored the dainty enclave of La Lengua.  While most of the news is neither news nor particularly interesting (they have a parklet!), his look back at the neighborhood shitheads of a generation past is worth the read alone:

It was a tough part of town in the 1970s. “Blue collar,” said Richard Perri, who used to own Cavanaugh's, a 29th and Mission landmark bar.

“We had a customer named Ice Pick Larry who had a big scar on his face,” he recalled. “We had Gorilla Doug, who would come in and say, 'I can lick anybody in the house.' And he could, too. We had Lyle the Swamper, who would clean up the joint after hours in exchange for drinks. Real Damon Runyon stuff.”

How long ago was that? “We had a grand opening and served 86 proof whiskey, 35 cents a shot, three drinks for a dollar,” Perri said. “Long time ago.”

But Cavanaugh's wasn't tough all the time. “We had poetry readings once in a while,” he said.

The .35¢ whiskey sounds pretty clutch, but I suppose I'm all set with getting slobbered on by Gorilla Doug (even if it is La Lengua).  I guess this is what they call progress.




Crestside Classic (Mixed By R8R) by Djp_Mix on  Mixcloud


Mayne you know the music you're gonna play tonight is some bullshit ass playlist that is on some mom jam fist pump pitbull dr pepper rave level of boring ass brostep bloghousemashglowtrapxcrybabywave. What you need is some slapping ass bay classics straight out the crest. Oh don't worry if you don't know about the Crest, just roll with this shit. You probably have a better chance of spotting snopa la lengua hyperneighborhood on a map that you do the crest but, if you're looking for some credibility from the skrreet skirts just jam this shit and maybe your cubicle warrior homie will get with it if he fucks with some KC rap or he's just hella bent. If not fuck it, you'll probably get a drunk girl to throw up a dub and mabe you can skeet skirt on her later in the evening. Whatever mayne just bump this shit doggie, don't be threatened by the cuttiness. It's a R8R mix and if you know anything about that northern california trunk tape or the sac classics then you know this mix bumps hella horwd, fuck with it.

mixcloud mediafire tracklisting

if you really hate rap then don't click and just help the people in the post below.

Pop-up River Runs Through the Mission

If you haven't left the house yet, things are particularly soggy this A.M.  Reader Ert O'hara writes in from 14th and Valencia:

Things are a little hectic this morning. Poor Carlin's Cafe on the corner there got flooded. 

18th and Mission outside of Duc Loi Supermarket was also starting to fill up around 8:30am, although not nearly as badly as Valencia.

But 18th Street had it the worst, with Delfina's Craig Stoll tweeting, “Flood on 18th st this morning. Good thing our chef brian is from New Orleans. Didn't have to call national guard.”

Of course, a little bit of history explains what was going on.  As seen in 1860, this part of the Mission was a river then know as Mission Creek, which bubbles up and reveals itself every couple of years when the drainage fills up:

And Burrito Justice maps out the depth of the old waterfront:

Happy swimming.

Then they came for the nudes…

I warned of the slippery, oiled-up slope we were on back in April. Now the city's verdict is clear: your genitals must be shamefully concealed from sight as G-d intended.

Put them away and think of the children for once!

Nudist's last stand, San Francisco 2012