Secret Histories Map of San Francisco
I made this Secret Histories Map of San Francisco for the San Francisco Arts Commission for an exhibition that ran last summer (2009). If you're in Los Angeles you can see it at the Japanese American National Museum till the 24th of January (2010). I got a bunch of emails about it from people who saw the Map there and wanted me to explain why I made it and what it's about.
Marci and I and a bunch of other friends were asked by the San Francisco Arts Commission to make work around the theme of "Trace Elements". The idea around "Trace Elements" or what I took from it was how people don't know about the history of things that they might pass by on the street, or how things got to where they were at and how things might have been forgotten (yeah, like Frodo and the Ring, only not). So I thought I'd make a Secret Map of San Francisco. Pretty much like anyone who's lived or lived near San Francisco there's little bits of history you learn about that can easily be placed on a map. Like walking pass Alamo Square you see folks taking photos of the "Full House" Houses, or if you're near Dolores Park you'll notice the golden fire hydrant that saved the San Francisco.
I've drawn out maps of the City for the past few years so when the idea came to me it was actually a pretty easy project cause I've already done it so many times before, just not to this scale (3 ft x 3 ft). This actually is my 4th version of drawing out a map of San Francisco. San Francisco is really easy to draw out in map-form cause it's only 7x7 miles, and although it has a few hills you can pretty much section it off by the freeway and a few of it's major streets: Market, Third Street, Mission Street, Geary Boulevard, Divasidero, and 19th Avenue.
In this section you will also find Seals Stadium. The Seals (AAA baseball team) used to play where the Safeway complex on Potrero Hill now sits. Before the Giants moved out west, San Francisco had the Seals. Joe Dimaggio used to play for them and Lefty O'Doul used to manage them. I used to walk by this Safeway about 4 times a week for several years, so it's weird thinking that's where people went to go see a game.
The 49ers used to play at Kezar Stadium before they moved out to Candlestick in early 1970s. It always amazed me that they played there, but then I found out that new stadium that seats about 10,000 was built after they destroyed the old one that sat 50,000. Yeah. Sports. No one cares.
2. San Francisco Columbarium. The Columbarium still exists, but it doesn't look like that anymore. It used to be part of the Odd Fellow's Cemetery. It's now kind of enclosed, but you can still visit it. I used to take the 38 Geary and would notice it's dome and wonder what it was.
3. Buena Vista Park- If you walk around the park you can see the broken tombstones were used as filler for cement. When they were exhuming bodies a lot of it was pretty haphazard. I marked off the former cemeteries in my map with bone borders, and if you're ever in that part of town you might notice some of the streets are laid out as if they were in a cemetery.
Another strange thing I noticed was how close Jim Jone's People's Temple was to the "Full House" House, but yeah. it really doesn't mean anything, it's just kind of weird.
2. There's Bison in the Golden Gate Park. It's kind of sad.
3. Lincoln Golf Course near the Presidio and across the way from the Legion of Fine Arts, is on top of about 10,000-20,000 unmarked graves. Sometimes after the rain a casket or two might pop out. Once they found an open casket with a dude holding a tin box with his heart in it, and another dude buried with a third arm. If you want more stories like this go here.
4. I mapped out the general area of Carville. Carville was a place where people converted abandoned street cars into homes.
5. The abandoned Marine Hospital has about 900 bodies buried in unmarked graves.
2. Russian Hill got it's name during the Gold Rush era, cause they found a bunch of Russian graves at the top of it. They were the graves of Russian Sailors who were interred there in 1848 cause they were of Eastern Orthodox faith and so no church wanted their bodies.
3. Crocker's Spite Fence is no longer around (Earthquake & Fire of 1906) but if you closely you can see pieces of the wall around Grace Cathedral.
4. The Second Street Cut through Rincon Hill. Before the Cable Car all the rich folks in the City lived on Rincon Hill. Then some dude decided to make it easier for horse drawn carriages to go down Second Street by petitioning to carve up the street. It didn't work out so well, cause it made it really easy for robbers to get the drop on people, and some houses fell off into the street. It turned one of the nicest street in San Francisco into a pit, and then the technology for the cable car was invented and rich moved up to Nob Hill.
5. Starr King- "The Orator who Saved the Nation".
6. Near UN Plaza, City Hall and the Main Library there used to be Yerba Buena Cemetery where about 5,000-9,000 bodies were supposed to be exhumed. Only 2,000 were accounted for. When they were constructing the new library they were still finding bodies. If you ever been there, you kind of get the feeling the place has some bad mojo.
7. My favorite 7-11 in San Francisco is on 711 Market Street. Oh, in the map is all the 7-11s in San Francisco.
Other Notable Items:
After making this map it's kind of crazy to realize how much the City has burned and has then been rebuilt. Pretty much most of the streets have stayed the same, but a lot of really nice architecture has been lost. Like the Palace Hotel has burned and been rebuilt 3 times. The first time they rebuilt it they made it pretty grand, and the 2nd time around they made it pretty awesome, but not as awesome as the time before cause another earthquake was bound to happen. Also trying to locate photos of old buildings to locations was a little hard, like the City Hall, cause they decided to rebuild it in the same area around Civic Center but at a different location. San Francisco has only been around for 162 years (if you don't count the Ohlone and the Spanish), which isn't that long, but really rich with a lot of pretty awesome history.