Three Long-Lost Views of Army Street at Midcentury


Our friends at the Bernal Heights History Project recently pointed us toward a relatively obscure Facebook group dedicated to the history of the area around Precita Park.

That’s where we found the rather remarkable photo you see above, showing the intersection of Mission and Army (Cesar Chavez) looking east, shortly before the infamous “street-widening” project. The photo reveals that Army had already been widened to South Van Ness, and demolition is clearly underway on the north side of Army to extend the widening west to Mission Street. Look closely on the left side of the photo and you can also see the oddly-shaped, three-story apartment building that was later rotated 180-degrees and moved across the street when Army was finally widened.

There are also some terrific pictures of the original St. Anthony’s Church on Army near Folsom, which was destroyed in a suspicious June 1975 fire.

Here’s how St. Anthony’s looked from street level in 1965:


And here’s the real heartbreaker; check out this spectacular view of the church interior, as seen in 1958:


UPDATE: Let us not forget that rebel blogger and animated GIF historian Burrito Justice also created a spiffy overhead graphic that visualizes the transformation of Army at Mission that occurred as the street was widened. Click here to see it.

PHOTOS: via Precita Park in Bernal Heights on Facebook

11 thoughts on “Three Long-Lost Views of Army Street at Midcentury

  1. Episode 2 of season three (1974) of “Streets of San Francisco” ( ) has a short scene around and inside the church. There is one shot showing the intersection of Army and Shotwell, another shows the exterior of the church, and then one scene inside. I had not been sure if they actually did the interior scene at St. Anthony, but seeing this picture confirms it.

      • Thanks.
        I’m guessing the parking lot that sits there now has probably been there since the street expansion, but man if a little (or actually, probably some what big) pie-shaped building wouldn’t be a nice replacement. I wonder what the status of the land is that’s prevented it from being developed all these years?

  2. Pingback: Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog San Francisco

  3. Not sure it is the same Streets of San Francisco episode but i saw one (a few years back) that had a short scene in the street in front of the now Harvest Market on Folsom st.

  4. Wonderful pics. Hopefully, the work now being done on Army Street will be a huge improvement over what is there now. Definitely a much needed upgrade. Streets of SF was great; was pretty accurate on locations.

  5. What a terrible mistake it was to widen it like that. At least we didn’t end up with a Freeway running all the way to Portola, which was Caltrans original plan.

  6. Pingback: Army Street | Front Door SF | Live like a local in San Francisco

  7. Pingback: Let’s Explore Life Magazine’s Mysterious 1969 Photo from Bernal Hill | Bernalwood

Comments are closed.