A View of an Undeveloped Valley as Seen from St. Mary’s Park in 1941

Stmarys1941.wnp

Courtesy of our friends OpenSF and the Western Neighborhoods Project, check out this terrific November 1941 view of the Islais Creek Valley on the south side of Bernal Heights, looking east from St. Mary’s Park, with Portola rising on the right side of the image.

That’s Alemany Boulevard running through the valley, and check out the cow (!!) grazing calmly on the hillside, roughly on the site where Alemany Farm sits today.

Even without knowing the date, there are a few visual hints that that this photo was taken just before the outbreak of World War II. What are the clues?

  • St. Mary’s Park was excavated in the 1920s, so the fact that the park exists in this shot tells us that the photo was taken sometime afterward.
  • The Allemany Farmer’s Market doesn’t exist yet. The farmer’s market moved to it’s present location in 1947, after relocating from the area around Duboce an Market Street.
  • The valley itself is still undeveloped, which tells us that the photo must have been taken sometime before the development of the Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard during World War II. During the war, this valley became the site of a large barracks-style development created to give shipyard workers a place to live. Here’s a view of how those houses looked around 1950, as seen from the area just above the Farmer’s Market:

Today, of course, I-280 runs through this valley, and little remains of this rustic scene other than the terrain itself. But at least you can now visualize how it once looked. Mooooo!

2 thoughts on “A View of an Undeveloped Valley as Seen from St. Mary’s Park in 1941

  1. Wonderful photo-thanks for sharing this! I guess the Ocean Shore RR tracks, which went through the valley, have already been torn out by this point?

  2. For the most part, Ocean Shore began petitioning the PUC to pull up tracks in 1920. The first of these was between Swanton and Santa Cruz. Ocean Shore lost a bundle of money at that time and liquidated a lot of its assets, though it continued as a land company into the 1970s. I assume that they began tearing up the SF tracks about that time, too.

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