Can You Identify the Bernal Heights Locations in this Vintage Home Movie?


Neighbor Vicky, the archival queen of the Bernal Heights History Project, invites Bernalese to help identify the Bernal locations shown in a newly digitized vintage home movie from the 1940s(?):

Home video mystery! The family in this clip sets off to the baths from Bernal Heights, but we can’t figure out what street — can you help us ID it? We see down Ellsworth Street to St. Kevin’s Church at one point, so they’re probably somewhere in NoCo (North of Cortland).

The Bernal scenes are in the first minute of the video. Up above is the view on Eugenia, looking east from Gates (vs. contemporary street view). Neighbor Vicky says:

Heading east on Eugenia — in the video you’ll see a whole lot of nothing down on Bayshore in the distance.

Here’s a grab of St. Kevin’s from the corner of Ellsworth and Eugenia (vs. contemporary street view):


You know how the game is played, fellow Bernal history dorks: In the comments, please help identify the Bernal houses or locations shown in the film, using time-markers in the video to indicate what you see. (Oh, and the footage of Sutro Baths is pretty sweet too!)

15 thoughts on “Can You Identify the Bernal Heights Locations in this Vintage Home Movie?

  1. I’m a history buff myself and, new to the area, enjoy learning more about it. Can I link to the actual video?

  2. @ 25 seconds – that’s the house on the NW corner of Eugenia and Ellsworth. The young girl MIGHT even be a woman I knew – Mae, a who passed away in the early 1990s. She cleaned house for me in the 80s and said once that she once lived in that house. (eerie!!)

  3. @ :42 – looking north on Ellsworth from Eugenia. On the right center, there is fence at what was a vacant lot. 157 Ellsworth is there now. Next door up the hill is the original front of the house (153) that now has the ever-changing flower-box on its new fence.
    It is becoming obvious that the person who owned the movie camera lived at the house on the corner. (NW corner of Eugenia/Ellsworth.) I’m going to search my memory for Mae’s last name – although it would be a married name, not a maiden name.

  4. this is cool, if only there were more Bernal time in the clip! Is there still a mystery? You seem to have it pretty well wrapped up in the blog post. The view at 0:33 to 0:39 is looking east down Eugenia, with the camera at Ellsworth and the car turns right onto Gates, heading south. A bit of a surprise when the film ends with the family being a lot farther south than where they started 😉

  5. wow, I thought it was Eugenia even before I read this thread. I live on Winfield and Eugenia is my route to just about everywhere. The video just had that Eugenia vibe!

    • Little more info (gathered through help on ye olde Internet):

      Plane shown at about 3:04 is a Douglas Dolphin, introduced in 1931. It was also used as a passenger flight LA Harbor-Catalina Island until 1941. It was amphibious, and you can see it in the water about 2:39.

      And since there’s a clear Port of LA sign right before the plane is shown, that’s likely it (the same sign is shown in the 18th picture down in the link above).

      Hence, film looks to be made between 1938-1941.

  6. Looks like the family in the video lived at 190 Ellsworth which is the house seen at the beginning shot (:03 is the front of the house) and then they leave through a gate on the back/side yard on Eugenia (0:12) which is now a second garage built on that property. Then they head down Eugenia in their car going east.

    That’s the house next door to ours and you can see just a bit of our house to the right at the 0:03 mark. Neat to catch a glimpse of our house from ~75 years ago.

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