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History of Early
S.F. Street Names


Street Names A-F

Street Names G-M

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Miscellaneous Street Names

San Francisco Streets Named for Pioneers


Alemany Boulevard

Archbishop Joseph S. Alemany
First Archbishop of San Francisco

Dominican friar, born in Spain. As a result of ten years of missionary work in Kentucky and Ohio, Father Alemany became an American citizen and served as Bishop of Monterey from 1850-1853. In the latter year he was designated as the first Archbishop of San Francisco, a position he held with distinction and honor for thirty-one years. He returned to his native country, and died in Valencia in 1888.

Alvarado Street

Juan B. Alvarado
Early Mexican Governor

Mexican governor of California 1836-42. He led and won a revolution against the preceding Mexican governor in 1836, and took part in another uprising eight years later against Governor Micheltorena. Alvarado was a central figure in California history in the twenty years before the U. S. occupation. Together with Castro and Pico he led the Mexican opposition to the American occupation.

Anza Street

Captain Juan Bautista Anza
The “Father of San Francisco”

Led a sizable party of soldiers and settlers from Sonora, Mexico across the Colorado River to California, and then north to establish the Presidio in San Francisco in 1776. This was his colonizing expedition, although two years before he had made an exploratory trip from Mexico and reached as far north as Monterey. The establishment of the Presidio preceded the first settlement at Yerba Buena by about sixty years. Mission Dolores was established the same year as the Presidio.

Arguello Boulevard

Comandante José Argüello
Presidio Comandante, Governor

Commanding officer of the Presidio of San Francisco from 1787 to 1806; later governor of California. He was the father of Concepción Argüello, the heroine of the episode involving Rezánov, the Russian who came into San Francisco Bay in search of supplies for the Russian settlements and fell in love with her. Luis, the brother of Concepción, later owned a large ranch called Las Pulgas, extending from San Mateo to Palo Alto.

Baker Street

Edward D. Baker
Lawyer and Noted Orator.

A major in the Black Hawk War at 21, congressman from Springfield, Illinois, in 1845-6, a colonel in the Mexican War, and member of Congress again in 1849-50. Baker was an ardent anti-slavery member of the House when California was admitted to the Union. For a time he was superintendent of construction on a sub-contract on the Panama railway. He arrived in San Francisco in 1852 and for years was one of the city’s foremost lawyers, and was noted for his ability as an orator. In 1860 he moved to Oregon and shortly thereafter was elected United States Senator. During the Civil War he organized a regiment only to be killed in its first engagement.

Bartlett Street

Lieutenant Washington A. Bartlett
Gave San Francisco Its Present Name

A United States naval officer, serving on the U.S.S. Portsmouth. After the town was taken by American forces in July 1846, he was sent ashore by Captain John B. Montgomery to administer the local government of Yerba Buena as the first American alcalde or chief magistrate. Bartlett spoke Spanish and did an excellent job. He ordered the first comprehensive survey of the town by Jasper O’Farrell, and named the first five streets, probably California, Howard, Clay, Montgomery, and Washington. Pacific Street was originally called Bartlett on the first alcalde’s map of 1847, and Sacramento was originally Howard.

The only real trouble experienced by Bartlett as alcalde was in the fall of 1846 when, on a trip down the peninsula gathering cattle to feed the settlement at Yerba Buena, he was taken prisoner by some native California ranchers and held captive for a month. On January 30, 1847, shortly before leaving office, he published and signed an ordinance stating that thereafter Yerba Buena should be known as San Francisco. Later Bartlett was in command of a navy ship making numerous surveys in the Pacific. He was the first to make an accurate survey of the California coast line.

Beale Street

Edward F. Beale
Bought Camels to California

Working under Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War in Washington, D. C., Beale took charge of an army group trying to establish the use of camels for transport from a Texas Gulf port to California. The camels were brought all the way to California but the experiment was not a success, and after several other attempts to use these same camels they were turned loose in the western deserts.

In his earlier days Beale was in the Mexican War as a navy officer and was a lieutenant in the Volunteers fighting in California after the Bear Flag revolt. Beale was with Kearny when he was in trouble at the Battle of San Pascual, and in 1848 he carried dispatches east with reports of the discovery of gold in California. All during these early years in California Beale was purchasing large acreages of undeveloped land in Kern County. Then for many years he lived in Washington, D. C., becoming wealthy by his speculation both in California and District of Columbia lands.

Bernal Avenue

Juan Francisco Bernal
Soldier in Anza’s Party

Came north with Anza in 1776 and was the forebearer of the California Bernal family. One of the Bernal holdings was a ranch consisting of 4,400 acres which included Hunters Point and land to the south extending into what is today San Mateo County.

Bluxome Street

Isaac Bluxome Jr.
Active Member of Vigilance Committees

A prominent business man, Bluxome in 1849 was in command of a company of citizens formed to combat the lawless element in the town. He served as secretary of both the 1851 and 1856 Vigilance Committees.

Brannan Street

Samuel Brannan
Leader of Mormon Immigration of 1846

Came to Yerba Buena from New York in July 1846 on the ship Brooklyn as the leader of a group of 240 Mormons. He arrived about three weeks after Sloat had occupied Monterey. Brannan brought to the city its first printing press and started the California Star, the first newspaper in San Francisco.

In 1847 he opened a store at Sutter’s Fort and was the first to publicize in San Francisco the discovery of gold. He became head of the 1851 vigilantes and was probably the town’s most influential citizens during the gold rush, being active in organizing banks, telegraph and express companies, and also in advancing the knowledge of agriculture in the Bay Region. He acquired and later lost a large fortune. One unusual venture was a large private loan to the Mexican Government in 1855.

Brenham Place

Charles J. Brenham
Pioneer Steamboat Captain, Mayor

For about ten years he was the captain of a Mississippi River steamboat running between New Orleans and Vicksburg. In 1849 Brenham arrived in San Francisco and took command of the S.S. McKim on the run between San Francisco and Sacramento. While so employed in 1851 he was, much to his surprise, elected mayor of San Francisco. He served as mayor for two terms and later became a member of the early San Francisco banking firm of Sanders & Brenham.

Broderick Street

David C. Broderick
Politician, U.S. Senator

A prominent Tammany Hall ward politician in New York City prior to coming to San Francisco in 1849. With financial help from Colonel J.D. Stevenson and in partnership with an assayer, Broderick started a business of buying placer gold and manufactured private gold coins. He used the resulting profits to buy city lots. He was elected a state senator in 1850 and until his death in 1859 was a leading personality in the political life of California, waging intense political fights during elections. He became U.S. Senator from California, and his stormy political activities continued in Washington against the pro-slavery Buchanan administration. He lost his life in a duel at Lake Merced with Justice David S. Terry in 1859.

Bryant Street

Edwin Bryant
Officer in Frémont’s Battalion, Early Alcalde, Author

Arrived by overland route in 1846, served as a lieutenant in Frémont’s Battalion, and in February 1847 succeeded Bartlett and Hyde as alcalde of San Francisco. Bryant acquired considerable property and returned to the East, where he wrote his historical book, What I Saw in California. In 1849 he again came west across the plains and was for years a prominent property holder in San Francisco, taking an active interest in politics. He eventually returned to Kentucky.

Buchanan Street

John C. Buchanan
Auctioneer, Active in Early San Francisco

Arrived in 1846 by overland route from Kentucky. Buchanan was a member of Frémont’s Battalion, and was also owner of many town lots. In 1847 he was alcalde’s clerk under Bryant and Hyde, in 1848 a partner in the firm of McDonald & Buchanan, auctioneers and commission merchants.

For many years it was accepted that Buchanan Street was named for President James Buchanan, but the evidence points to John C. Buchanan, the pioneer. A map in Colville’s San Francisco Directory published in 1856 has all the Western Addition streets, including Buchanan. This map first appeared on April 19, 1856 in a report by the commission which named the Western Addition streets. At this time James Buchanan was secretary of state and was not elected president until November 1857. It is probable that the custom of selecting names of men prominent in local politics was followed in the case of Buchanan Street.

Burnett Avenue

Peter H. Burnett
First Governor of the State of California

A lawyer who lived five years in Oregon before coming to California just after the discovery of gold. He was the first governor of California, elected in 1849. He later returned to the practice of law and became a justice of the Supreme Court of California. The last years of his life were spent in Sonora, Mexico, where he endeavored to further a large colonization scheme.

Bush Street

J.P. Bush
Helped O’Farrell Survey San Francisco

This is perhaps the most difficult to trace of all the early San Francisco street names. The name of Dr. Jonathan P. Bush has been suggested, but he did not arrive until 1849, and Bush Street appears on the two earliest maps with street names–both published in 1847. An unverified story published in the San Francisco Chronicle August 17, 1893, tells of a man coming to San Francisco from Oregon, claiming he was J. P. Bush. He said he had first arrived in San Francisco in 1845 as a cabin boy on the New England Whaler Margaret, then deserted and became one of O’Farrell’s assistants in mapping the city’s streets in 1847, and that O’Farrell had named Bush Street for him. This Chronicle story is the most likely explanation of the name.

Castro Street

José Castro,
Leader in Resistance to U. S. Forces

A descendant of a soldier in Anza’s company. He was comandante of the Mexican forces aiding Governor Alvarado in his revolution against two Mexican governors. Later he was the most active leader in resistance to U.S. rule after Monterey and San Francisco were taken by American forces. Other members of this family held many political offices and owned large land grants.

Clark Street

William S. Clark,
Built City’s First Wharf

Arrived in 1846 and settled on the northern point of Yerba Buena Cove, which became known as Clark’s Point. There he built the settlement’s first wharf. Shore land having later been filled in, the wharf site is now at about the intersection of Broadway and Battery streets. In the early days when the alcalde would grant only one lot to a settler, Clark acquired many lots by transfer from others. He died a wealthy property holder.

Coleman Street

William T. Coleman
Early Banker, Vigilance Committee Leader

Born in Kentucky, Coleman arrived in California in 1849. He first had a store in Placerville, later one in Sacramento and finally a large commercial and banking house in San Francisco. Coleman was the head of the Second Vigilance Committee in 1856 and for many years was active in all law and order movements in the city.

Davidson Street

Professor George Davidson
Scientist, Geographer

Came to California in 1850 as a government surveyor, and soon had charge of important boundary line surveys. Davidson also was an expert in land cases. For a number of years he had charge of establishing the exact geographic locations of key points on the western coastline. He worked on the boundary between the United States and Canada, between California and Nevada and on surveys for the government in Alaska. Davidson became a professor at the University of California and a member of many scientific societies in Europe and the United States. Mount Davidson in San Francisco is also named for him.

Davis Street

William Heath Davis
Trader, Merchant, Author

An early trader and merchant, born in Honolulu, who made two trips to California in the 1830’s and remained permanently in 1838. For years as supercargo or ship owner, and merchant, Davis traded up and down the California coast and with the Sandwich Islands. In 1846 he bought a Yerba Buena store from his uncle, Nathan Spear, and became a prominent merchant of the town, continuing in Pacific Coast trade. He also was active in city affairs. In later life he wrote a book Sixty Years in California, recognized as one of the best works on San Francisco in its pioneer days.

De Haro Street

Francisco De Haro,
First Alcalde of Yerba Buena

The first alcalde or chief magistrate of Mexican Yerba Buena. He ordered the first survey of Yerba Buena by Vioget in 1839. He bought the large Galindo ranch, which included Lake Merced and extended south into San Mateo County.

Drumm Street

Lieutenant Richard Coulton Drum
U. S. Army Officer

Drumm Street appears on the city map of 1851 and is one of the more difficult names to trace. Supposedly the name came from Lieutenant Drum (spelled with one m) who was well known up to April 1848 for his military record in the Mexican War, and again starting in 1850 when he was stationed in Louisiana. During the Civil War he was adjutant general of the Department of the Pacific, stationed in San Francisco. There is a blank period in his record and whereabouts for the two years after the Mexican War, but it is believed that he came to San Francisco and was prominent enough to have had his name used on the 1851 Eddy map.

Du Pont Street, now Grant Avenue

Captain Samuel F. Du Pont
U.S. Naval Officer During Conquest of California

In command of the U.S.S. Congress, which brought Commodore Robert F. Stockton to California in July 1846. Transferred to the U.S.S. Cyane, Du Pont during the next several months took an active part in the conquest of California, transporting troops from port to port. The name of the southern end of the street was changed to Grant Avenue in the late 1870’s or early ‘80’s. The name Du Pont for the north end of the street persisted until a much later date.

Eddy Street

William C. Eddy
City Surveyor

As city surveyor in 1849, Eddy made a new enlarged map extending the streets laid out by Jasper O’Farrell in 1847. The new streets were carried west as far as Larkin and out to 9th Street. He also made the city map of 1851, and later became state surveyor general.

Ellis Street

Alfred J. Ellis
Member of State Constitutional Convention

Came to California from New York via the Sandwich Islands in 1847. He first operated a hotel and was later a member of the town council. He was a member of the State Constitutional Convention at Monterey in 1849.

Fallon Place

Thomas Fallon
Bear Flag Revolt Participant

A Canadian who arrived in 1844 and took an active part in the Bear Flag revolt. He was the first to raise the U.S. Flag in San Jose and served in the California Battalion. During the gold rush he was a successful placer miner and later became a prominent member of the San Francisco business community.

Fell Street

William Fell
Danish-Born Merchant

Born in Denmark in 1815, he arrived in San Francisco in 1849 and became a merchant. He was a member of the Society of California Pioneers. Fell Street was probably named for him although it has been often stated that the street was named for Edward L. Fell, a contractor who made a specialty of raising sunken ships and moving houses. Edward Fell’s obituary in the Alta California in 1864 seems to eliminate him, however, because he was only 19 years old in 1854, and Fell Street appears on a map published in that year. Therefore this recent research eliminates an interesting pioneer and substitutes another about whom very little is known.

Folsom Street

Captain Joseph I. Folsom
U. S. Army Officer, Wealthy Real Estate Owner

A graduate of West Point. Folsom came to San Francisco as a captain in Stevenson’s Regiment in 1847. In 1848 he bought the valuable Leidesdorff estate for $75,000, including a large ranch on which the town of Folsom was later built. Among the assets in this estate were 309 San Francisco lots which were sold in January 1856 for $607,695. He also bought many “sand lots,” built houses. and continued to be successful in amassing a fortune from real estate and building.

Fremont Street

General John C. Frémont
U.S. Army Officer, Leader of Exploration Parties

U. S. Army leader of three early western exploring expeditions, two of them extending all the way to California. In 1846, at the time of the Bear Flag revolt, he was in the Sacramento Valley on his third expedition, leading a surveying party consisting of about fifty soldiers. He took an active part in military affairs during the revolt and the conquest of California, finally organizing the California Battalion of Volunteers. For a short time he was civil and military. governor of the state, appointed by Commodore Robert F. Stockton and preceding General Stephen W. Kearny. He later became U. S. senator from California and was an unsuccessful candidate for president in 1856.

Frémont did not prove to be an effective diplomat in his dealings connected with his California activities, but he was outstanding among pioneer leaders for his energy and ability to accomplish difficult tasks.

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