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History of Early
S.F. Street Names


Street Names A-F

Street Names G-M

Street Names N-Z

Miscellaneous Street Names

San Francisco Streets Named for Pioneers


Noe Street

José Noé
Last Mexican Alcalde, Ranch Owner

The last alcalde under Mexican rule, and a city official after the American occupation. He owned the San Miguel rancho, which was a large tract of approximately 4000 acres in the center of present-day San Francisco. The rancho covered an area that included Twin Peaks and Sutro Heights.

Octavia Street

Miss Octavia Gough
Sister of Charles Gough

“Named for Octavia, a sister of Charles Gough, who was on the commission to lay out the streets west of Larkin Street known as the Western Addition.”

The above is quoted from an obituary of Gough, published in the San Francisco Call, dated July 27, 1895. It eliminated the former supposition that Octavia meant the eighth street back from Divisadero. It documents the relationship of Charles Gough to Octavia Street and; almost surely, to Steiner Street, named for Gough’s good friend. Steiner was delivering water in the pioneer days when Gough was delivering milk.

O’Farrell Street

Jasper O’Farrell
Made First Comprehensive Survey of San Francisco

Employed early in 1847 to make a survey of San Francisco and extend the mapped limits of the city. His map covered the area bounded by Post, Leavenworth and Francisco streets, and the Bay.

It was probably O’Farrell who had the most to say about naming the streets within that area and who chose so many pioneers.

This 1847 map also included the water lots granted to the city by General Stephen W. Kearny, which were subsequently sold at auction.

The location and present width of Market Street, parallel to the Mission road, were established by O’Farrell.

He was a graduate civil engineer, acquired wealth in land holdings, served as a state senator and was a popular resident of early San Francisco.

Ortega Street

José Francisco de Ortega
First European to See San Francisco Bay

Scout, pathfinder and explorer for the Portolá expedition; discoverer of the Golden Gate, Carquinez Straits, and other local landmarks. He was comandante of the Presidios of San Diego, Santa Barbara and Monterey, and of the soldiers attached to Missions San Juan Capistrano and San Buenaventura.

Palou Avenue

Fray Francisco Palóu
Companion of Junípero Serra

A Franciscan padre with Anza’s party, he took a leading part in establishing both the Presidio and Mission Dolores in 1776. He had previously accompanied an exploring expedition in 1774, which planted a cross on Point Lobos above Seal Rocks. Companion and biographer of Junípero Serra, his Life of Serra is recognized as one of the great early California historical documents.

Parrott Alley

John Parrott
Merchant and Banker

A commercial agent and U. S. consul at Mazatlan in 1844 and 1845. While there he sent a ship to Monterey with a mixed cargo, valued at $120,000, which was wrecked on the rocks near Carmel. He came to San Francisco in 1848 and became a shipping merchant and a leading banker. He built one of the city’s first large buildings on the northwest corner of California and Montgomery streets.

Peralta Avenue

Gabriel Peralta
Owner of Large East Bay Ranch

A corporal in Anza’s company arriving at San Francisco with his four sons in 1776. He was the founder of the Peralta family in California. When the United States took over California in 1846 the Peraltas were the owners of most of what is now Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley. Their ranch contained about 49,000 acres and was called San Antonio. Just as Sutter lost his “empire” in Sacramento Valley during the gold rush, the Peraltas also lost, or sold for small sums, their huge holdings in the East Bay.

Perry Street

Doctor Alexander Perry
Surgeon in Stevenson’s Regiment

A major and surgeon in Colonel Jonathan Stevenson’s First New York Volunteer regiment, arriving in 1847. On the way to California Dr. Perry assisted in rescuing Captain Henry W. Halleck from a Mexican prison in Lower California.

Pico Avenue

Pío Pico
Last Mexican Governor of California

The forebearer of the family was Santiago, one of Anza’s soldiers, but the best known member was Pío Pico, who in 1845-46 served as the last Mexican governor of California. Working with Alvarado and Castro, he was active in opposing occupation by the United States.

Portola Drive

Gaspar de Portolá
First Spanish Governor, Explorer

First Spanish governor of California. In 1769 marched north from San Diego in command of the first party of Europeans to see San Francisco Bay. This expedition also discovered the Golden Gate and Carquinez Straits. He founded the presidio at Monterey and aided in establishing Mission San Carlos.

Post Street

Gabriel Post
Merchant and City Official

Came to San Francisco in 1847, was a member of the town council in 1849, and afterwards was elected state senator. He was merchant and one of the leaders in public movements in the city’s early days.

Powell Street

Dr. William J. Powell
Surgeon of the U.S.S. Warren

Surgeon of the U. S. sloop of war Warren, which was active during the conquest of California and was in San Francisco harbor for long periods. After the occupation of Yerba Buena Powell lived ashore because he had established a “sanitorium” for sick sailors. He was living ashore in July 1847 when O’Farrell was surveying the town for his map, which was published in the fall of that year. Chester Lyman worked as a surveyor for Jasper O’Farrell and lived in the same house as Powell near Portsmouth Square. Later Lyman wrote the book Around The Horn, in which he states that Powell was popular and a good entertainer, and even a “good ventriloquist.” Therefore the popular surgeon of the Warren was honored with a street name, as Montgomery and Bartlett of the Portsmouth had been a few months before.

Richardson Avenue

William A. Richardson
First Settler in Yerba Buena

An Englishman and the mate of an English whaler, who left his ship when it put in at San Francisco Bay in 1822. The Mexican authorities in the area allowed him to stay ashore on condition that he teach navigation and carpentry to the young Californians. He soon established a base near San Gabriel in Southern California and traded up and down the coast as far south as Peru. From this experience he became well known as a navigator and pilot. In 1835 he returned to San Francisco Bay and was the first inhabitant of Yerba Buena, where he built a tent house. The next year he built quite a large adobe house near the present intersection of Grant Avenue and Clay Street. He was Captain of the Port and also dealt privately in hides and tallow collected from the ranches around the Bay. He later bought a large ranch covering the present site of Sausalito, and he lived there for many years. Richardson Bay was also named for him.

Ringgold Street

Lieutenant Cadwalader Ringgold
U.S. Naval Officer and Surveyor

Arrived with Lieutenant Charles Wilkes on the first U.S. exploring expedition in the Pacific in 1841. Ringgold commanded the U.S.S. Porpoise and led a survey party mapping the Sacramento River as far as Colusa, and also parts of San Francisco Bay.

Russ Street

J. C. Christian Russ
Jeweler, Owner of Montgomery Street Land

After losing by theft the entire stock of his jewelry store in New York City, Russ and his three sons enlisted as privates in Stevenson’s regiment. The family of twelve arrived with him in San Francisco on the U.S. Transport Loo Choo, in March 1847. On arrival they purchased several lots on Montgomery Street and built a house between Pine and Bush, then well south of San Francisco proper. They opened a jewelry store and during the gold rush ran an assay office. They built over thirty shacks on their land which they rented. The family also built a hotel near the land now occupied by the Russ Building.

Sanchez Street

José Sánchez
Member of Family Owning Large Ranchos

A comandante of the Presidio, with a reputation as an Indian fighter, Sánchez was the son of one of Anza’s soldiers. The family acquired a ranch of some 15,000 acres extending From present day South San Francisco to Burlingame. José’s brother Francisco Sánchez, owned the adjacent 9000-acre ranch to the southeast.

Serra Boulevard

Fray Junípero Serra
Leader in Establishment of California Missions

In 1769 this Franciscan padre established the first mission in Alta California at San Diego, and for many years served as the very capable and energetic father-president of all the missions. He dedicated the years from 1769 until his death in 1784 to the successful administration of the Alta California missions.

Sloat Boulevard

Commodore John D. Sloat
Commander of Pacific Squadron in Conquest of California

Fought under Decatur in the War of 1812, naval constructor, and in 1846 took command of the U.S. Navy squadron in Pacific waters. He had orders to take Yerba Buena and other main ports if he had definite word that war with Mexico had been declared. The slowness of communications, persistent rumors of war and the presence of a British squadron in coastal waters, created a period of great uncertainty. Sloat did, however, take Monterey on July 7, 1846 and on his orders Montgomery landed and took Yerba Buena two days later. Sloat quickly turned his command over to Commodore Robert F. Stockton and returned to the East via Cape Horn.

Spear Street

Nathan Spear
A Leading Yerba Buena Merchant

Arrived in the Sandwich Islands in 1819 from Boston. In 1832 he came to California and opened a store at Monterey with William Hinckley as a partner. In 1836 both joined with Jacob Leese and operated a store and trading post at Yerba Buena. At first they were in competition with the town’s only other commercial establishment, that of William Richardson. Three years later Spear built the first flour mill in California on Clay Street, near Montgomery, which was run by mule power. He had two schooners on the bay collecting wheat and made a charge to customers of one-half of the flour milled. With other partners Spear continued as one of the leading merchants of the town until 1846 when he sold his holdings to his nephew, William Heath Davis.

Steuart Street

William M. Steuart
Town Official

Came to California as secretary to Commodore Thomas A. Catesby Jones on the U.S.S. Ohio in 1848. He was a member of the town council in 1849 and a delegate to and acting chairman of the California State Constitutional Convention at Monterey in 1849. At the election held later that year he was an unsuccessful candidate for governor.

Steiner Street

L. Steiner
Sold Water from House to House During Pioneer Days

The published obituary of L. Steiner, who died in November 1911, states that this street was named for him and his two brothers, Leopold and Samuel, and that he delivered water from house to house in the early days. Later the city directory also gives Leopold’s occupation as waterman. No doubt there was a friendship between the Steiners and Charles Gough, who was delivering milk in the pioneer period. When the Steiners became active in business affairs, and Gough was on the 1855 committee that laid out the streets of the Western Addition, he probably remembered his friend who had delivered the water.

Stevenson Street

Colonel Jonathan Drake Stevenson
Commander of New York Regiment

Colonel of the First New York Volunteers; arrived with about seven hundred and fifty men in March 1847. He raised this regiment with the understanding that the men would be mustered out in California after the Mexican War. They were discharged just in time to benefit by the discovery of gold in 1848.

Stevenson soon resigned from the army and turned to mining. After the gold rush he turned his attention to San Francisco and Santa Cruz real estate. He was responsible for the first land subdivision in San Francisco.

Stockton Street

Commodore Robert F. Stockton
Military Governor

Arrived at Monterey in command of the U.S.S. Congress eight days after Sloat had taken California for the United States. Almost immediately Stockton was appointed military governor by Sloat, who because of poor health was forced to go East. Stockton remained military governor during the first six months of American jurisdiction, working closely with Frémont until early in 1847 when he turned over the command of the land forces to General Stephen W. Kearny, and the command of the naval forces to Commodore William B. Shubrick. Stockton was in command during most of the period of armed opposition to the taking of California by the United States. William Heath Davis, in California at the time, wrote: “He was most energetic and effective in winning California for the U.S.” The county seat of San Joaquin County also is named for this naval officer. It was Captain Charles M. Weber, the river town’s founder, who changed the name–then Weberville–to Stockton.

Sutter Street

John A. Sutter
The Most Enterprising Citizen in California Before the Gold Rush

A Swiss adventurer who came to California via Oregon, Alaska, and the Sandwich Islands, finally arriving in Yerba Buena in 1839. He succeeded in getting the confidence of the Mexican government, which granted him large holdings of land in the Sacramento Valley. He soon bought all the equipment from the Russians who were abandoning Fort Ross and moved most of it to what is now Sacramento. There he succeeded in raising large crops, and at one time had a thousand Indians working for him. At his fort he had many craftsmen at work. He was especially remembered for the kindness and hospitality he bestowed on the weary travelers from the east who had crossed the plains and first saw civilization again at Sutter’s Fort.

In January of 1848 a carpenter named James Wilson Marshall, while building a sawmill in the south fork of the American River for Sutter, found a few flakes of gold in the millrace. He hurried back to reveal his discovery to Sutter, who determined to keep it a secret until the sawmill could be completed and he could get definite ownership of the land. In both of these efforts Sutter was unsuccessful. Soon the news leaked out, first to San Francisco and then later in the year to the eastern United States, and started the gold rush. Within the next few years his land was overrun with squatters, and Sutter eventually lost his entire empire.

Townsend Street

Doctor John Townsend
Pioneer Physician

Came overland to California in 1844. He took part in the last Mexican revolution–the Micheltorena campaign. In 1847 he built his residence and physician’s office on the south side of California Street between Montgomery and Sansome, where the Merchants’ Exchange Building now stands. He was president of the town council for some months under Governor Richard B. Mason, and one of the leading citizens of the community berween 1845 and 1850.

Turk Street and Boulevard

Frank Turk
Lawyer and City Official

A lawyer, came to San Francisco in 1849 and first worked for John W. Geary in the post office. He was elected second alcalde in 1849 at the first election of local officers in San Francisco and held several other minor offices and was a well known lawyer. At one time Turk owned nearly all of what is now known as Nob Hill. He fought a duel with O.C. Hall, another lawyer, in June 1862. The last ten years of his life were spent in Washington, D.C., continuing in the practice of law.

Valencia Street

Candelario Valencia
Soldier, Ranch Owner

The son of José Manuel Valencia, one of Anza’s soldiers. Candelario also saw military service at the Presidio, and later owned the Acalanes rancho near Lafayette in Contra Costa County. He also had property adjoining Mission Dolores where he lived. William Heath Davis in Sixty Years in California says the street was named for Candelario, but it could have been named for the family.

Vallejo Street

General Mariano G. Vallejo
Land Owner, Friend of Early American Settlers

The most important and respected Mexican citizen during the American settlement and seizure of California. In 1835 he was comandante of the Presidio of San Francisco, and was later ordered to establish the garrison and colony at Sonoma as a check against the Fort Ross Russian settlement and Indian raids. He was the owner of extensive lands, and a friend and benefactor of early American settlers. Even so, he was arrested and held a prisoner briefly at Sutter’s Fort during the historic Bear Flag revolt.

Later General Vallejo continued to be active in the state’s affairs and served as a member of California’s 1849 Constitutional Convention.

Van Ness Avenue

James Van Ness
Mayor of San Francisco

Mayor of the city in 1856, author of the ordinance which confirmed the Western Addition land titles to those who actually possessed the property on January 1, 1855. The Western Addition was the land between Larkin Street and Divisadero Street, which marked the city’s western line in 1856. Van Ness owned a house on the block bounded by Van Ness, Franklin, Hayes and Fell.

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