Draft released of facts to be stamped on Castro’s new sidewalks

Castro history facts stamped into sidewalk pavement

Over the weekend, the Castro Community Benefit District released a draft summary of the 20 facts about the Castro area that are to be stamped on Castro’s sidewalks with the completion of the new streetscape improvements. The Castro facts were part of the original Streetscape Improvement Project plan and are being paid for by the CBD after a budget shortfall was revealed last year.

According to the draft summary, the goal of the pavement stamped facts is to “convey interesting pieces of information and milestones spanning the history of the neighborhood, from the original Native American inhabitants to the present-day.”

Each fact will be located near “leaning posts” along the East and West sides of Castro Street. The facts will be listed chronologically starting from Market Street on the West-side of Castro to 19th Street and looping back to Market Street up the East-side of Castro Street, forming a U shape.

The criteria for each fact is the following:

  1. Credible sources, original source documentation is ideal.
  2. Castro/Eureka Valley centered.
  3. Events/milestones in the neighborhood that had a local or national impact.
  4. Notes history of official City landmarks.

The first two criteria, credible sources and Castro-area focused, are mandatory while criteria three and four are optional.

The facts selected were researched by Nick Perry with the Department of Public Works (lead on the Streetscape Improvement Project) with help from the GLBT History Museum and other community members.

Here are the facts that will be going before board approval on May 8th:

  1. Before 1776
    The native Yelamu people live nearby in the village of Chutchui, relocating each winter to the bayside village of Sitlintac. Eureka Valley is grassland and chaparral, with a creek flowing towards the bay along today’s 18th Street.
  2. 1776
    Spanish colonists name Eureka Valley’s creek “Arroyo de los Dolores” and establish Mission San Francisco (Mission Dolores) near its banks. The Mission system dismantles ancient Yelamu society. Disease disseminates the population.
  3. 1846
    Mexico grants former Mission lands to citizens, including José de Jesús Noé, the last Mexican Alcalde (Mayor) of Yerba Buena (San Francisco). Noe’s 4,444-acre Rancho San Miguel encompasses the area later known as Eureka Valley.
  4. 1854
    American settler John Horner purchases portion of Rancho San Miguel. Castro Street, named after a prominent Mexican-era Californio family, marks the western border of the nascent neighborhood known as “Horner’s Addition.”
  5. 1895
    Five room cottages on Castro Street rent for about $15 a month. Transit improvements, including the Castro Street cable car, spur settlement by working-class Irish, German, and Scandinavian families in the late 19th century.
  6. 1900
    Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church is established. Instead of Eureka Valley, for many decades residents refer to the neighborhood as “Most Holy Redeemer Parish.”
  7. 1907
    The Swedish American Hall opens at 2174 Market Street. Upper Market Street in Eureka Valley comes to be known for its concentration of social clubs, churches, and businesses serving the neighborhood’s large Scandinavian community.
  8. 1914
    Thousands attend the first-known festival on Castro Street to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Twin Peaks Tunnel. The San Francisco Chronicle declares the celebration “a riot of hilarity and merrymaking.” The tunnel opens in 1918.
  9. 1922
    The Nasser brothers open the Castro Theatre, the first movie palace designed by prominent architect Timothy Pflueger. Janet Gaynor, an early usherette at the theatre, goes on to win first Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929.
  10. 1943
    Castro Street becomes nationally known as the setting of Mama’s Bank Account, a novel by local Norwegian-American author Kathryn Forbes. It inspires popular adaptations including the 1948 film, I Remember Mama.
  11. 1953
    Lesbian couple Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon move into their first home together in San Francisco on Castro Street. They help establish the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian organization.
  12. 1963
    The Missouri Mule opens as the 1st bar in Eureka Valley’s nascent gay enclave, which comes to be known as the Castro. In 1972 Twin Peaks becomes the 1st U.S. gay bar with glass windows, a symbol of the community’s increased pride.
  13. 1977
    Castro resident, merchant, and activist Harvey Milk, known as the “Mayor of Castro Street,” is elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and becomes one of the first openly gay elected officials in the country.
  14. 1978
    Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone are assassinated. As news of their death spreads, tens of thousands of mourners spontaneously gather on Castro Street and form a candlelight march to City Hall.
  15. 1979
    The assassin of Supervisor Milk and Mayor Moscone, Dan White, is cleared of murder. Outrage in the gay community spurs the “White Night” riots at City Hall and a retaliatory police ransacking of the Elephant Walk Bar at 500 Castro Street.
  16. 1981
    Bobbi Campbell, RN, posts first notice about “gay cancer” on Star Pharmacy window at 498 Castro Street. Later identified as AIDS, the pandemic devastates the Castro. Campbell becomes a leading activist in the fight against the disease.
  17. 1982
    The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a queer activist and charity group founded in 1979, organize one of the 1st AIDS-related charity events – a dog show on Castro Street. Castro resident and disco star Sylvester judges the show.
  18. 1987
    Cleve Jones organizes the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt at 2362 Market Street. Throughout the 1980s, numerous organizations take root in the Castro to fight for awareness, treatment, and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
  19. 1998
    After nearly 16,000 San Franciscans, including many Castro residents, die from AIDS-related complications, the Bay Area Reporter’s milestone “No obits” headline marks the first time none were submitted since the 1980s.
  20. 2013
    National attention turns to Castro Street as thousands gather to celebrate the Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriages in California. The event marks a milestone in the Castro’s historic role as a center for LGBT rights.

Roy McKenzie

Roy has been a Castro resident since 2010 and is passionate about drag queens, bicycling, and food. Follow his babbling on Twitter.

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45 Responses

  1. rblack says:

    I like it. Well balanced.

    One point – I’d rather not see Dan White’s name stamped onto the street.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

    • Joe says:

      I have to agree rblack, but how do you tell the story without it?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

      • rblack says:

        Since you can’t really tell the whole story in two sentences stamped in concrete anyway, I’d rather his name not be permanently embedded into the sidewalk of Castro Street.

        Anyone who sees this who knows the story will know the assassin’s name already, and for those that don’t know the story, should they be interested in learning more, will find out his name that way.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  2. We had lots of discussion about this. Strong feelings on both sides. The CBD would like to hear the community’s response to this.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

    • Mitch Mansfield says:

      Stuff happens. Dan White did it. Putting his name on the sidewalk doesn’t change anything, nor does it glorify him. But for the majority of folks who don’t know, it might be good to point out that White was also a supervisor.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

      • Sanchez Resident says:

        I could see the potential of repeated vandalism of the letters for Dan White. I’m not saying I would do this, but I think there are individuals that would repeatedly.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  3. John says:

    What about our organized efforts in the Castro to fight Prop 8, the Knight initiative (Prop 22) and the Briggs initiative (Prop 6)?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

    • Sanchez Resident says:

      What are the plans (if any) going forward for adding new history facts to the sidewalks? Who will decide on future facts? Who will get to pay? If you offer to pay, can you determine the wording and placement?

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  4. Jeff Shelby says:

    Wonderful! It’s clear that a tremendous amount of research and thoughtful planning has gone into creating this list. Great work!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  5. Paul J. Lucas says:

    You used the word “disseminates.” I think the word you’re looking for is “decimates.”

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  6. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  7. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  8. Jackson says:

    I would like to number 5 expanded to include “Twinkie Defense” outrage as cause of White Nights riots. Gays fought back for justice.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  9. Marilyn Andres says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 17

    • Joe says:

      Do you have any proof of this? Investigated by who? Or are you just talking out of your ass? Keeping the neighborhood gossip/Petrillis crazy wheel turning?
      Or maybe you are just deflecting the investigation into Marilyn Andres I’ve been hearing so much about.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

      • Mitch Mansfield says:

        I thought Marilyn Andres was Mike Komar’s drag name.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

        • Joe says:

          Mike Komar, you mean the disabled guy with a handicapped parking placard who works out daily at Fitness SF? And was running a business. I know many disabled who only dream of being in as good as shape. Or the Mike Komar who wanted all the hill climbing, energy efficient, low maintenance, buses that run off City owned electric power pulled out of service?

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

        • This does sound like Mike Komar. I know he has a beef with the CBD, but it has never been very clear to me why. He has commented on this blog multiple times under different names so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is him as well.

          Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

    • Mitch Mansfield says:

      A Community Benefits District is created by the city. So when you say the CBD “filed themselves as a 501c3″ that tells me you might not be clear as to what they do, how they are funded, how they are governed, and if you were fully informed then — oh never mind. The truth won’t get those crazy thoughts out of your brain.

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  10. Marilyn Andres says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Joe says:

      Indeed, just keep talking to yourself Marilyn. Please don’t do any research into how the CBD was formed, or other Community Benefit Districts in SF. It’s all Scott Wieners fault anyway. Right?

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    • Mitch Mansfield says:

      The Castro and Upper Market CBD was created by a bill passed by the supervisors and then it was approved through a vote of all property owners who would have to pay the property tax assesment within the district. There are many Community Business Districts in the city. Their purpose is to augment city services, mainly through cleaning, safety measures and helping the residents of the district with city related issues. A liason so to speak.

      Can you give me any examples of “for profit” land use decisions? I go to meetings and I read agendas and I can’t come up with any on my own.

      And I’d love to hear about the fraud investigation because that most definitly has not been talked about at meetings. I want to hear more! Where did you get that bit of info?

      And I know Paul Margolis. I’m going to see him on Friday and I’ll ask him about your claim on his investigation and get back to you. One would think the state is more concerned with illegal procedures than casual referrals. I’m not even sure referrals could be considered a crime!

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    • Mitch Mansfield says:

      And in this day and age, can we keep gender out of the conversation?

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  11. Joe says:

    Mitch, this just proves your support for Scott Wiener, who as we all know controls EVERYTHING in SF, including my bowel movements. His power is limitless.

    I believe Paul Margolis, is also the guy responsible for managing the Not for Profit display windows as well as ourtownsf.org
    Clearly he is suspect. And should be under investigation.

    If only Michael Petrilis would run for public office. A true voice of calm and reason. Marilyn could be “paranoid in chief”.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    • Mitch Mansfield says:

      I think Scott Wiener’s power comes from his height, which would then make him the most powerful politician in the city. Hey you shorties Willie Brown and Ed Lee — take note. And because of his height, Scott wants very, very tall building everywhere.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

      • Joe says:

        See you said it yourself Mitch. Scott, is in the pocket of the developers who have the nerve to want to build housing in San Francisco, improve neighborhoods, increase the tax base. Bet those pockets are mighty big for Scott to fit in.

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  12. Castro Resident says:

    Back to the topic at hand, folks….the sidewalk etchings and street improvements. I think that they are pretty good. I certainly could not have done better. They seem balanced, well written, capture the history of the entire community. Nice Job. HOWEVER, our very nice sidewalk and streetscape makeover will quickly deteriorate in my opinion if we do not: (1) address the homeless problem on the sidewalks and JWP (2) require the retailers to maintain the sidewalks in front of their stores, as well as their store fronts (3) create an environment that provides for a healthy mix of retailers that includes local business and (yes) some formula retail (4) provide for a central location for trash pickup so that residential style trash bins are not used for commercial purposes and left all over the sidewalk (5) shop in our own neighborhood and support our local retailers

    I could go on, but y’all get my point.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    • Joe says:

      Well said, Castro Resident. I think we can start dealing with the homeless problem by NOT GIVING THEM MONEY/FOOD. This doesn’t help them or us. I agree formula retail should be judged on a case by case bases. I’m not sure about #4, how would this work, where would it be located?
      #5 YES,YES, YES

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  13. Marilyn Andres says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Mike, Marilyn, whatever your name is… thanks for reading! :)

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    • Mitch Mansfield says:

      I really do attend meetings. However, you like to make things up so I guess I didn’t sit trough meetings. CBD Board members serve a two year term. Three board members left the end of 2013 becasue one person moved out of the area, one person’s job in the district ended, and one person got a job transfer out of the country. Not the mass resignations you talk about. I have indeed talked with them and none of them have the contention for the CBD like you do Mike. As Roy pointed out, it has never been really clear why you are against the CBD. Making things up does not help your cause.

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  14. Marilyn Andres says:

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    • Hey, Mike. No, I don’t get paid by anyone to run this blog, some people really do work for free in SF.

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      • Joe says:

        Mike/Marilyn FUCK YOU. Your post is such a insult to the millions of hours and dollars our community has given and continues to give back to the City we love. Nobody works for free? Look around you douche bag. If you wipe the shit out of your eyes, you will see million upon millions of hours, dollars GIVEN, countless organizations and individuals who serve on committees, boards, and GIVE until it hurts. We work TOGETHER to improve our COMMUNITY. We do it for FREE, We are San Franciscans, this is in our blood, this is our heritage. It is WHO we are. And clearly, you are NOT one of us.

        Sorry about the language Roy. This comment got my blood boiling. And again Roy, thank you for running this blog.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. Mitch Mansfield says:

    I’m going to stop posting comments here for a very long time. It is very clear to me that Marilyn is indeed Mike and that scares me. Restraining orders are in place on this individual because of some very scary behavior. i don’t want to have to go to all the trouble of getting a restraining order, so I’m staying away from anything Marilyn/Mike. I do truly fear him/them. Others should too. They can be violent. It is so sad.

    Thanks Roy for all you do. I’ll still read, but Mitch is now mute. You won Mike!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

    • Joe says:

      Mitch, your voice of reason and experience will be missed. Perhaps you to can use your drag name. And continue to post.

      Letting the crazy people win, hurts us all and gives them the idea that have power.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  16. Marilyn is on disability for mental issues so we should forgive her rants on this blog. If my support of nonprofits who benefit our community is a bad thing, then so are all those dedicated volunteers and low-paid employees who treat her for her medical conditions. Her for-profit enterprises including t-shirt sales while on disability put her at risk of being exposed. She should keep a lower profile.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  17. Marilyn is indeed Mike Komar and has restraining orders for a VERY good reason. We should all steer clear of this guy !

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  18. Joe says:

    It’s sad that as a community we have to fear and steer clear of both of the Mikes Petrelis and Komar. They are truly their own worst enemy. Whatever insights or ideas they have, even if it’s well warranted and useful it become quickly lost in their craziness and pathetic need for attention.

    What I’ve learned after almost 40 year in this community is; it pays to play nice, show respect and realize other people options count just as much as yours.

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  19. Peter says:

    They had better spell-check number two!
    The word they want is DECIMATES.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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