These Bernal Heights Streets Are Barely Streets at All





Neighbor Craig has been admiring some of the feral streets of Bernal Heights; streets so small, or so wonky, or so disjointed that it’s dubious whether they deserve to be called streets at all. Take it away, Neighbor Craig:

I’ve been thinking about the least Street Streets of Bernal Heights.  Here are my current favorites:

Joy – one block long, only stairs, but many lovely cottages on those stairs. Next street over is Faith. Paradoxically, the rest of Joy was eliminated when the 101 freeway was built.

Esmeralda – About three blocks – not connected, mysteriously runs between Lundy’s and Prospect, then Winfield and Elsie on the Northwest Slope, mysteriously reappears on near the top of the northeast slope for one block connecting Alabama and Franconia with barely a curve to signal the start and end. At one point the street turns into a SLIDE.

Waltham – basically a driveway for 2 houses near the top of Alabama, one of which is listed on VRBO.

Emmett Ct – A sliver of an alley with 3 houses off of Precita

Heyman Ave – 5 houses between Coleridge and Prospect. It’s a SMALL block, but a real street
Rosenkrantz – Famous for being a random sign with no apparent street or even stairs on the southern stretch of Bernal Heights Blvd. However, there are legitimately 5 houses on this street once you dive over a guard rail and dirt road to find it.

Mayflower – I dare you: Just try to find it. ONE house in all of Bernalandia has this street address, but the place where the street possibly lies is actually about 4 short blocks long!

Special recognition goes to Peralta for holding the title as the least contiguous street in Bernal, breaking six times over its course as it winds from the Alemany Farmers Market and ends in a scary stairway 50 feet directly above the Cesar Chavez/101 Hairball.

PHOTOS: Craig Sakowitz

20 thoughts on “These Bernal Heights Streets Are Barely Streets at All

  1. I like this. I’ve seen Mayflower, but now I can’t think of where. Also, What’s the name of the tunnel that goes under 101 to Bayshore? It’s been closed for years.

  2. Ohhhhh – a subject SO dear to my heart !!!! I love all of these, being an extreme stairway nut. But not even I would do *all* of Mayflower because the bushes were so thick in places that even though it’s a through “street” on maps, I could’ve stepped in an unseen hole or something. I read an excellent article about this one once — it prompted me to check it out again a few years ago. If I had a house there I’d open it up and do a public stairway with surrounding garden! Thanks for this post. One of many reasons to be passionate about Bernal is its intriguing, unique public stairways and other cool little streets.

  3. Don’t forget that city planners once had plans to carry Esmerelda up and over the top of Bernal. It showed up on maps from 1870 to at a href=”;sort:Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=228&trs=468″>1914 if not longer.

    • So smart and on it at all times. You should run for mayor.. When i grow up i want to be just like you ! Burrito face your the best !!!!!

  4. Great article! I live on that tiny sliver of a curve called Esmeralda. Getting a cab or food delivery is a nightmare. Half the time they end up on the far eastern side of Bernal wondering what happened to the street!

  5. My vote’s for Peralta, of course, but Franconia deserves a mention. There’s a (former?) retirement home at 400 Franconia. (It used to be 1101 Esmeralda, according to a plaque out front.) The 400 Franconia property is immediately adjacent to 377 Franconia, but the shortest vehicle-accessible path between them is half a mile! (Franconia to Powhattan to Peralta to Esmeralda to Franconia. The north way is a bit longer.)

  6. Hilton is another odd one, albeit not quite as picturesque as those in the article. It’s that little alley that comes off Bayshore and loops around behind Flowercraft back to Cortland.
    Do you think the planners in some downtown office were just unaware of the craggy topography of the area when they plotted these streets out? Peralta is definitely odd, ending in cliffs or giant retaining walls several times.

    • Near Hilton is the even less picturesque Cosgrove Street, which is just the alley in back of the Silver Crest Donut Shop. On the DPW’s maps of street name histories though, it says Cosgrove was formerly “San Bruno Road,” meaning that it was part of the original San Bruno Road that was mostly buried under today’s Bayshore Blvd.

    • I actually did use my fancy new electric hybrid assist bike to go snap all of the pictures for this article. I dare say that The bike doesn’t have a chance against Mayflower however…

  7. Years ago I asked a friend to walk from the southside and meet me at Mayflower and Carver, an intersection on my SF map. I walked from northside on Bradford and was baffled – no garden at that time; all overgrown. Needless to say we had a good laugh after many shouting and finally meeting up!

  8. Pingback: SF Weekly Roundup: An Uber for Home Services & More!

  9. My contribution: Mojave St., a two-microblock alley between Bronte St. and Peralta St.’s southernmost segment. As far as I can tell, Mojave’s purpose in life is to make the southern segment of Peralta accessible by car. I believe there are no houses with Movaje St. addresses, just sides of houses on perpendicular streets.

  10. Pingback: In 1889, Bernal Heights Was a Confusing Mess of California Avenues | Bernalwood

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s