A Vision of the Future to Make NIMBY Heads Explode

San Francisco: Mission Freeway (1948)

If you were impressed by the amount of NIMBY energy expended to stop the installation of new cellular antenna towers and Smart Meters, just try to wrap your head around the fury that would be directed toward this proposed project from 1948.

The basic plan was very simple: Along the axis of the Bernal Heights segment of Mission Street, erect a combination elevated freeway and public transit rail line. The incomparable Eric Fischer tracked down this alternate-universe vision of the future, and he explains:

Looking northeast toward Cortland and what would now be called 30th Street BART, between Mission and Coleridge, from the 1948 Transportation Plan for San Francisco.

Yup, that’s Cortland, shooting uphill near the top right corner of the image. This may not have been an attractive plan, or even a desirable one, but on the upside we would have gotten our own eponymous train station out of the deal. Notice:

IMAGES: via Eric Fisher

27 thoughts on “A Vision of the Future to Make NIMBY Heads Explode

  1. Hmm. That would have been truly awful. I wonder what “NIMBYs” stopped such a foolish plan back then, despite the disrespectful name calling of their neighbors. Whomever they were, I’m very grateful to the work they put in to stop profit-seeking companies from ruining their neighborhoods. Truly inspirational.

    • This was not from “profit-seeking companies.”
      This came from our own city government, the “San Francisco Department of City Planning.” Look at the lower left corner of the rendering.

      That’s the same entity that is ensconced at 1650 Mission Street, and continues to whittle away at residents’ input and rights. It has long since dropped the City part of its name and is now known as the Planning Department.

  2. How are people supposed to get onto the train platform? I can only assume through underground entrances, because there are no pedestrian bridges above that awful freeway.

  3. Love Eric Fischer (note small name typo above) and his scanning! BART on the Golden Gate Bridge is a personal favorite:
    BART crosses the Golden Gate Bridge (1961)

    I wonder what La Lengua would have thought about the Soviet-style apartment blocks in the image above?

    • The ReReHoCo (Revolutionary Retrofuture Housing Council) thinks they are totally fucked up. Nearly as much as the alternate plans for Mission from 24th to 16th St.

      I jammed the maps together to show the path from Cortland to 14th.

      The Bernal section looks to at grade, and Bernal would have been completely cut off from Mission / La Lengua except for Cortland and Army.

      The highway was to be at or below grade from 26th to 14th, with the highway zagging over from Mission to SVN. 15th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, 25th and 26th would have been cut off.

      No Zante’s, Baby Blues, La Taqueria, El Faralito, Benders…

  4. I think that is a staircase visible in the shadow on the right-hand platform, leading down to the street.

    As far as I can tell, what killed the Mission Freeway, unlike many of the others planned for San Francisco, was more neglect than organized opposition. It stayed in the transportation plan until the 1972 rewrite, but was never part of the state highway system, and had effectively been forgotten by 1956, before the protests against other freeways even got started. It’s noteworthy that the Duboce segment of the Central Freeway was built without the vertical offset between lanes that would have been required for the Mission Freeway to connect to it, showing that the state had no intent of accommodating the route even if the city paid to build it.

    • Half a billion doesn’t seem very much these days, does it?

      But once I hijack that tunnelling machine from Muni, I will take care of that, and:

      – extend the Central Subway west, to either Fillmore or Divisidero
      – dig south down Divis or Fillmore, with a stations in obvious places (Union, Sacramento, Geary, Hayes, Duboce, Market & Castro, Noe & 24th)
      – angle over to the La Lengua BART station at 30th and Mission
      – continue under Bernal with a Cortland & Andover station.

      At this point, we could either make a run north up Folsom, or continue east to Hunters Point/Candlestick and make a second transbay tube to OAK.

      What’s the upper limit on Kickstarter?

      • Your station placement selection sounds great….honestly though, why isn’t the silly central subway running out Geary with high density housing out to the beach? This, along with a 30th station would make SF the City that knows how, again….;-)

      • Oh yeah, obviously Geary. Actually thinking of a loop that headed south down 19th, east along 18th, and north along Van Ness or something like that.

        And I’ve never understood why there isn’t a subway E/W along Sacramento.

  5. Pingback: 1968: Envisioning Bernal Heights as a Much Prettier Place | Bernalwood

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