San Francisco Board of Supervisors' "Official Map of Chinatown in San Francisco" showing today's Grant  Ave. and Beckett St.

Index of Old San Francisco Street Names

Image from FoundSF.
Image from FoundSF.

You can now find an online index of San Francisco’s historical street names. The index contains a list of street names that have been altered over the years, as well as street names that have simply been lost due to changes in the city’s built environment. The reference tool is available to anyone online (scholars, amateur historians, etc.) and includes street names from modern San Francisco’s earliest days in the 1840s.

I’ve been keeping track of this data on my own for a while now and recently I decided to compile it together into a user-friendly, online research tool. The street name data is compiled mostly from the San Francisco Municipal Reports (1880/1881; 1894/1895) and Louis K. Loewenstein’s Streets of San Francisco: The Origins of Street and Place Names (San Francisco: Lexikos, 1984). Old street names from historical newspapers, like the Daily Alta California, are also included, though their historical provenance is often difficult to trace. I would like this to be a collaborative tool, so if anyone out there wants to contribute their knowledge and expertise regarding this topic, please feel free to do so. All I ask is that you provide references for your contributions.

The index is sortable (thanks Google Tables!) by current street name, old street name, date of change, or neighborhood. Eventually I’ll incorporate a mapping component that will provide a visual index to the compiled historical data. Embedded below is an example of the table. It’s sorted by “Current Street Name” by default, but you can click on the header in each field to sort by another element. Below the embedded table is a link to the full Old San Francisco Street Names index.

[Embedded table superseded and removed 4/23/2017]. See the updated full index here: https://goo.gl/HRHNzx.


NOTES

“Official Map of Chinatown of San Francisco.” San Francisco Board of Supervisors. San Francisco Municipal Reports. San Francisco: Board of Supervisors, 1884-1885. Accessed online from the David Rumsey Map Collection, http://goo.gl/Yxdzy3.


EDITS

4/23/17: Old index removed; new index added.

2/14/15: New article image added.

3/19/14: The title of the online index has been changed to San Francisco’s Historical Street Names.

11 Comments

  • nick September 16, 2013 Reply

    Don’t forget Webb St.

    • chris September 17, 2013 Reply Author

      Nick,
      Do you know what Webb Street used to be called? Thanks.
      Chris

  • Shannon B Z April 21, 2014 Reply

    I would love to see this data on Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymologies_of_place_names_in_San_Francisco

  • Joan August 16, 2014 Reply

    Do you know the history of Caselli street, who it was actually named after?

    • chris August 16, 2014 Reply Author

      Joan,
      I’m not sure what the history of that street name is. This is a neat resource showing the history of SF street names, but Caselli’s not on there: http://sfstreets.noahveltman.com/.

      Thanks for visiting.
      Chris

  • David December 6, 2014 Reply

    Hi Chris,

    We own a property on Fresno Street and the property description refers to it as Hinckley Street but we can find no history of that name. What are your thoughts?

  • salvano December 7, 2014 Reply

    David,

    William S. Hinckley was one of the early California pioneers. He lived in Monterey in about 1836. He was also one of the first Americans to live in Yerba Buena, living there in the 1840s. He was one of the town’s early non-Spanish, non-Mexican Alcaldes and operated a saw mill beginning in about 1841. My guess is that he probably had a house near that location and that was why the street name used to be named after him.
    Chris

    Sources:
    Hittell, John S. A history of the City of San Francisco; and incidentally of the State of California. San Francisco: A. L. Bancroft & Co.: 1878.

    Soule, Frank. The annals of San Francisco. New York: Appleton, 1855.

    Eldredge, Zoeth S. The beginnings of San Francisco. San Francisco: Zoeth S. Eldredge, 1912.

  • Jan Masaoka January 2, 2017 Reply

    I have a letter addressed to my father in the late 1940s (he is now deceased) addressed to 45 Guam Street in San Francisco. Any ideas? Jan

    • Frank Dunnigan April 20, 2017 Reply

      Guam Road was near the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. According to City Directories, it was: “East from West Point Road, south of Evans Avenue (Middle Point War Dwellings)”. In the 1953 City Directory, 45 Guam shows “Jos. G. Masaoka” with telephone number ATwater 2-8153. This area was extensively rebuilt after the War, and the Guam street name disappeared.

      • Jan Masaoka April 20, 2017 Reply

        Thank you so much! This is really amazing. Joe Grant was my father’s brother, so my father must have been staying with him or using his address. My father did tell me that after the war Joe was living in public housing in Hunter’s Point that was converted from military barracks.

        I really appreciate your taking the time to post this. Jan

      • chris April 23, 2017 Reply Author

        Nice find, Frank!

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