If you live on Peralta Avenue in Bernal Heights, you’re probably used to getting phone calls from lost delivery drivers. They’ve managed to find the 200 block, you’re in the 500 block; how many obstacles could there be between you?
Turns out, there are a lot. That staircase on the right is the 400 block of Peralta. But how did Peralta “Avenue” end up in no fewer than eight non-contiguous segments? In theory, it was supposed to be a (mostly) continuous street:
That’s a 1924 Rand McNally map, courtesy of David Rumsey. Peralta and Esmeralda are highlighted. These roads existed mostly on paper, as planned improvements. Note that “paper” Esmeralda runs right over the top of Bernal Hill: Sutrito Tower would be at the intersection of Esmeralda and Shotwell. Fourteen years later, these roads remained wisely unbuilt:
Harrison Ryker’s aerial photos via David Rumsey and Google Earth. The actual built portion of Peralta by 1938 was a nice, contiguous three blocks running parallel to, and uphill from, Precita and Army.
The paper streets remained on the maps, but by the 1940s, city planners had begun to distinguish paper streets from real ones by using dotted lines — as seen in this 1948 map, courtesy Eric Fischer:
Unlike Esmeralda, paper Peralta was eventually built, basically along the planned lines — except for where it wasn’t built at all. Parts of it are too steep to be anything but stairs; this was likely made worse when the cross streets were blasted out flat.