Etymologies of Place Names in San Francisco
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Etymologies of Place Names in San Francisco

This is a list of place name etymologies in San Francisco, California.

Place names

Place Namesake Notes
Alamo Square Named for a cottonwood tree (alamo in Spanish) that grew on Alamo Hill.
Alemany Boulevard Joseph Sadoc Alemany
Alvarado Street Juan Bautista Alvarado
Ambrose Bierce Alley Ambrose Bierce Formerly Aldrich Alley, named for Mark Aldrich; renamed in 1988.
Anza Street Juan Bautista de Anza
Arguello Boulevard José Darío Argüello
Ashbury Street Munroe Ashbury Ashbury was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1864 to 1870.[1]
Baker Street Edward Dickinson Baker
Balance Street Storeship called "The Balance" The Balance was captured during the War of 1812 and arrived in San Francisco in 1849, where she served as a storeship docked at the intersection of Front and Jackson. She was broken apart and buried at the end of Pacific Wharf which is now Balance Street[2]
Balboa Street Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Bartlett Street Washington Allon Bartlett Bartlett was the first alcalde (mayor) of San Francisco and is sometimes confused with Governor Washington Montgomery Bartlett, the city's twentieth mayor
Beale Street Edward Fitzgerald Beale
Bennington Street Battle of Bennington[3]
Bernal Heights José Cornelio Bernal In 1839, José Cornelio Bernal (1796-1842) was given a land grant to Rancho Rincon de las Salinas y Potrero Viejo, part of which comprised present-day Bernal Heights.
Bernal Heights Boulevard José Cornelio Bernal See Bernal Heights.
Bernice Street May have been named for a prostitute who worked in the alley.[4]
Birch Street The Birch tree Several Hayes Valley streets are named for plants and trees.[5]
Bluxome Street Isaac Bluxome, Jr. Bluxome led troops against the Hounds in 1849; he served as Secretary of the Vigilante Committees of 1851 and 1856.
Bonifacio Street Andrés Bonifacio
Bradford Street William Bradford Bradford Street is one of two streets in Bernal Heights named for Pilgrim Fathers; the other is Brewster Street.[3]
Brannan Street Samuel Brannan
Brenham Place Charles James Brenham
Brewster Street William Brewster Brewster Street is one of two streets in Bernal Heights named for Pilgrim Fathers; the other is Bradford Street.[3]
Broderick Street David C. Broderick
Bryant Street Edwin Bryant
Buchanan Street John C. Buchanan It had been assumed that Buchanan Street was named after James Buchanan, the President of the United States who took office in March 1857. However, an 1856 map was found to have also included the street name. It is probable then that the street was actually named for the local pioneer John C. Buchanan.
Burnett Avenue Peter Burnett
Bush Street J.P. Bush May have been named after a cabin boy who was an assistant to city mapper, Jasper O'Farrell. At least twice, "Bush" street signs along the 2.6-mile stretch were vandalized to honor a political opponent of a Republican named Bush. Days before the 1988 election, dozens of signs were covered with "Dukakis" stickers.[6] After the 2009 inauguration following the 2008 election, vandals covered signs throughout the street's length with "Obama" stickers; some signs were also vandalized shortly after Obama's victory.[7] A man was charged in the 1988 incident, and San Francisco city officials stressed the cost of removing the stickers in the 2009 incident.
Cabrillo Street Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo
California Street State of California
Capp Street C.S. Capp Capp was secretary of the San Francisco Homestead Union, the first homestead association in San Francisco. The street runs through the lands of the association.[8]
Castro Street José Castro A Californio leader of Mexican opposition to U.S. rule in California in the 19th century, and alcalde (mayor) of Alta California from 1835 to 1836.
Cesar Chavez Street César Chávez Until 1995, it was named "Army Street." (It was so named because it terminated at the Army Pier in the Bay. Twenty-Sixth Street was formerly called Navy Street because it terminated at the Navy Pier.)[9]
Chattanooga Street Battle of Chattanooga
Clark Street William S. Clark
Cole Street Cornelius Cole
Coleman Street William T. Coleman
Colin P Kelly Junior Street Colin Kelly
Cora Street Charles Cora Cora, a gambler and consort of prostitutes, was lynched by vigilantes in 1856.[4]
Davidson Street George Davidson
Davis Street William Heath Davis
De Haro Street Francisco de Haro First alcalde (mayor) of Yerba Buena (now San Francisco)
Dirk Dirksen Place Dirk Dirksen Formerly Rowland Street (renamed in 2009)[10]
Divisadero Street From the Spanish In Spanish, divisadero means a point from which one can look far. The Spanish name for Lone Mountain was El Divisadero.[8]
Dolores Street Mission Dolores Also named after the creek that used to run through the Mission, Arroyo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, or "Our Lady of Sorrows Creek."
Duboce Park Victor Donglain Duboce Duboce (1856-1900) was a member of the Board of Supervisors and a colonel in the Spanish-American War.[11]
Duboce Street Victor Donglain Duboce See Duboce Park (called Ridley Street prior to 1900).
Duncan Street Chapman Duncan Duncan was a Mormon acquaintance of John M. Horner, the founder of Noe Valley (as Horner's addition), who gave Duncan Street its name.
Eddy Street William M. Eddy Eddy was City Surveyor in 1850. He completed the survey of the city between Larkin and Ninth streets and the bay.[8]
Elizabeth Street Elizabeth Horner Wife of John Meirs Horner, owner of Horner's Addition, the original name of Noe Valley.
Embarcadero Plaza Formerly Justin Herman Plaza, named for Justin Herman, who headed the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency from 1959 to 1971. In the 1960s, Herman's urban renewal policies displaced many African-Americans in San Francisco's Western Addition. The name was changed in 2017.[12]
Evans Avenue Robley D. Evans
Fair Oaks Street Battle of Fair Oaks
Fallon Place Thomas Fallon
Farnsworth Lane Philo Farnsworth
Fell Street William Fell Fell was a Danish immigrant who came to San Francisco in 1849. He was a merchant and member of the Society of California Pioneers.[13]
Fella Place May have been named for the madame of a brothel located in the alley.[4]
Fillmore Street Millard Fillmore
Folsom Street Captain Joseph Folsom
Franklin Street Benjamin Franklin
Fremont Street John Charles Fremont
Frida Kahlo Way Frida Kahlo Formerly Phelan Avenue, named for James D. Phelan. Citing racism on the part of Phelan's son, James Duval Phelan, the name was changed in 2018.[14]
Fulton Street Robert Fulton
Funston Avenue Frederick Funston Funston Avenue, between 12th and 14th Avenue, should be 13th Avenue, but the number 13 is considered bad luck.[5]
Geary Boulevard John W. Geary
Gene Friend Way Gene Friend was a long-time San Francisco public servant.[15]
Glen Park Glen Canyon Park
Golden Gate Golden Gate in Constantinople John C. Fremont named the Golden Gate after one of the Walls of Constantinople. The Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Ave. take their names from the Golden Gate.[4]</ref>
Gough Street Charles H. Gough Gough, a milkman, was one of three aldermen appointed in 1855 to lay out and name the streets of the Western Addition.[16]
Grant Avenue Ulysses S. Grant Formerly called Calle De La Fundacion[4] and Dupont Street for Samuel Francis Du Pont.
Green Street Talbot H. Green Green (real name Paul Geddes, an embezzler) was a pioneer, city councilman, treasurer of the Society of California Pioneers, and mayoral candidate.[17]
Guerrero Street Francisco Guerrero Former alcalde (mayor) of Yerba Buena (now San Francisco)
Haight Street Weltha Ann Buell Haight Haight managed the San Francisco Protestant Orphan Asylum on Haight Street near Market Street.[18]
Harding Road Warren G. Harding
Harriet Street May have been named for a prostitute who worked in the alley.[4]
Harrison Street Edward H. Harrison Harrison, a lawyer, was a quartermaster's clerk for the First New York volunteers and collector of the port.[8]
Hayes Street Thomas Hayes Hayes was a county clerk from 1853 to 1856; he started the first Market Street Railway franchise.[4]
Hayes Valley Thomas Hayes
Hickory Street The Hickory Tree Several Hayes Valley streets are named for plants and trees.[5]
Howard Street William Davis Merry Howard
Hyde Street George Hyde Hyde was the mayor of San Francisco in 1847-1848.
Ingalls Street Rufus Ingalls
Islais Creek From a Salinan word, slay or islay, a type of wild cherry.
Irving Street Washington Irving
Isadora Duncan Lane Isadora Duncan
Ivy Street Ivy Several Hayes Valley streets are named for plants and trees.[5]
Jack Kerouac Alley Jack Kerouac Formerly Adler Place (renamed in 1988)
Jack Micheline Alley Jack Micheline Formerly Pardee Alley (renamed in 2003)
Jackson Street Andrew Jackson
Jefferson Street Thomas Jefferson
Jerrold Avenue Douglas William Jerrold
Jersey Street New Jersey Named for the state where John Meirs Horner, owner of Horner's Addition, the original name of Noe Valley, was born.
Jessie Street Jessie Benton Fremont Jessie Benton Fremont was the wife of John Charles Fremont.[4]
John F. Shelley Drive John F. Shelley
John Muir Drive John Muir
Jones Street Elbert P. Jones Jones was editor of the California Star and secretary of the town council.
Joost Avenue Behrend Joost Joost built the first electric railway going south from downtown San Francisco.
José Sarria Court José Sarria An honorary section of 16th Street in the Castro neighborhood, José Sarria was an early gay and transgender rights pioneer in San Francisco.
Juan Bautista Circle Juan Bautista de Anza
Judah Street Theodore Judah
Junipero Serra Boulevard Junipero Serra
Kearny Street Stephen W. Kearny The street is not named for Denis Kearney.
Keyes Avenue Erasmus D. Keyes
Kezar Drive Mary Kezar Kezar donated $100,000 to the San Francisco Park Commission in 1922 and funded the construction of Kezar Stadium.
Kezar Stadium Mary Kezar See Kezar Drive.
King Street, Starr King Way Thomas Starr King Thomas Starr King was a minister credited with preventing California from becoming a separate republic during the Civil War.
Kirkham Street General Ralph W. Kirkham Kirkham was a hero of the Mexican-American War.
Laguna Street Washerwoman's Lagoon Named for a lagoon located at the intersection of Greenwich and Gough Streets.[19]
Laguna Honda Boulevard Laguna honda means "deep lagoon" in Spanish.
Laguna Honda Reservoir Laguna Honda Reservoir
Lane Street Levi Cooper Lane
Lapham Way Roger Lapham
Lapu Lapu Street Lapu-Lapu
Larkin Street Thomas Larkin
Laussat Street Pierre Clément de Laussat
Lawton Street Henry Ware Lawton
Leavenworth Street Thaddeus M. Leavenworth Leavenworth was mayor from October 1848 to August 1849.
Le Conte Avenue John Le Conte
Lech Walesa Street Lech Wasa Formerly part of Ivy Street; renamed in 1986.
Leese Street Jacob P. Leese
Leidesdorff Street William Leidesdorff

Leidesdorff was biracial U.S. citizens in California of Carib, Danish and Jewish ancestry and a successful enterprising businessman. 1845 he was President of the San Francisco school board and also elected as City Treasurer. The part of the street between Pine and California was formerly called Pauper's Alley.[20]

Lendrum Street John Lendrum Lendrum was commander of the Presidio in 1858 and Fort Point in 1861.
Liggett Avenue Hunter Liggett
Linares Avenue Ygnacio Antonio Linares Linares was a member of Juan Bautista de Anza's 1775-1776 expedition to Alta California.
Lincoln Boulevard Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln Court Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln Way Abraham Lincoln
Linden Street The The Linden tree Several Hayes Valley streets are named for plants and trees.[5]
Lombard Street Lombard Street in Philadelphia Also said to be named for Lombard banking.
Lover's Lane 1806 love affair Named for the doomed romance of Maria de la Concepcion Arguello, granddaughter of José Darío Argüello, and Nicolai Petrovich Rezanov, chamberlain to the czar of Russia.[4]
Lyon Street Nathaniel Lyon
Lundy's Lane Battle of Lundy's Lane
Maiden Lane Named after the Maiden Lane in London or New York.
Main Street Charles Main Main (1817-1906) was a wealthy ship chandler and harnessmaker.[21]
Market Street Named by surveyor Jasper O'Farrell after Market Street in Philadelphia.
Martin Avenue Martin Ron Ron was a land surveyor. The street was named in 2016.[22]
Mason Street Richard Barnes Mason
McAllister Street Matthew Hall McAllister
Mission Street Named for Mission Dolores.
Montcalm Street Louis-Joseph de Montcalm
Montgomery Street John B. Montgomery
Moraga Street José Joaquín Moraga
Moultrie Street William Moultrie
Nelson Rising Way Nelson Rising
Noe Street José de Jesús Noé The last Mexican alcalde (mayor) of Yerba Buena (now San Francisco)
Noriega Street José de la Guerra y Noriega Governor of Alta California under Mexican rule
Octavia Street Octavia Gough Sister of Charles H. Gough for whom Gough Street is named. See Gough Street.[23]
O'Farrell Street Jasper O'Farrell
Ortega Street José Francisco Ortega
O'Shaughnessy Boulevard Michael O'Shaughnessy
Otis Street James Otis
Pacheco Street Salvio Pacheco Owner of the Rancho Monte del Diablo in the East Bay.
Palou Avenue Francisco Palóu
Patterson Street William Patterson Pioneer floriculturist; Golden Acre Nursery established 1885 on Bernal Heights
Pierce Street Franklin Pierce
Point Lobos Avenue Lobo means "wolf" in Spanish. Spanish explorers named Point Lobos after the barking of sea lions, which sounded to them like wolves.[5]
Polk Street James K. Polk
Portola Avenue Gaspar de Portolà
Potrero Avenue From the Spanish potrero In Spanish, potrero means "pasture." The Potrero comprised grazing land for common use.[24]
Powell Street Dr. William J. Powell Powell was a surgeon of the U. S. sloop of war Warren, which was active during the conquest of California.[23]
Precita Avenue Precita Creek[25]
Ramona Avenue Ramona, the novel
Reservoir Street Named for a reservoir formerly located at Church and Market Streets, the location of Reservoir Street. Water for the reservoir came from a spring behind Sutro Reservoir, the headwaters of Laguna Honda.[26]
Rivera Street Fernando Rivera y Moncada Governor of Alta California under Mexican rule
Rizal Street José Rizal
Rolph Street James Rolph
Rose Street The rose Several Hayes Valley streets are named for plants and trees.[5]
Sanchez Street Francisco Sanchez
Sansome Street Sansom Street in Philadelphia[19]
Scott Street Winfield Scott
Selby Street Thomas Henry Selby
Shafter Avenue James McMillan Shafter
Sheridan Street General Philip Henry Sheridan
Shotwell Street J.M. Shotwell Shotwell was a cashier at Alsop & Co.'s Bank, secretary of the Merchant's Exchange, and treasurer of the San Francisco Homestead Union.[8]
Shrader Street. A.J. Shrader Shrader was a city supervisor from 1865 to 1873.
Simonds Loop George S. Simonds
Sloat Boulevard Commodore John D. Sloat
Spear Street Nathan Spear
Stanyan Street Charles H. Stanyan Stanyan was a city supervisor from 1866 to 1869.
Steiner Street L. Steiner Steiner was a waterman (water deliverer).[23]
Steuart Street William Morris Stewart Born Stewart, changed his last name to Steuart upon arriving in San Francisco in 1850.
Stevenson Street Jonathan D. Stevenson
Stockton Street Robert F. Stockton
Sutter Street John Sutter
Taraval Street Sigismundo Taraval
Taylor Street Zachary Taylor
Terry A Francois Boulevard Terry Francois
Thomas Avenue General George H. Thomas General Thomas was stationed in the Presidio in 1869.
Tonquin Street The American merchant ship Tonquin
Townsend Street Dr. John Townsend Townsend was a physician in early San Francisco; he practiced in the city for 66 years.[27]
Treat Avenue George Treat Treat (1819-1907) was an early farmer in the Mission District, businessman, abolitionist, and horse racing enthusiast.[24]
Turk Street Frank Turk
Ulloa Street Antonio de Ulloa
Union Square So named because it was used for rallies in support of the Union Army during the American Civil War.
Valencia Street Candelario Valencia Owner of the Rancho Acalanes which is now Lafayette, California.
Vallejo Street Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo
Van Ness Avenue James Van Ness
Via Ferlinghetti Lawrence Ferlinghetti Formerly Price Row, renamed in 1994.
Vicente Street Vicente Yáñez Pinzón
Vicksburg Street Siege of Vicksburg
Waller Street Mrs. R.H. Waller Waller managed the San Francisco Protestant Orphan Asylum on Haight Street near Market Street.[18]
Washington Street George Washington
Wawona Street Wawona, California
Webb Street Stephen Palfrey Webb
Webster Street Daniel Webster [8]
Winfield Street Winfield Scott Originally called Chapultepec Street.[4]
Woodward Street Robert B. Woodward Woodward was proprietor of Woodward's Gardens.[28]
Yerba Buena Gardens Yerba buena ("good herb" in Spanish) can refer to several aromatic plants, including mint; it was San Francisco's original name.
Yorba Street José Antonio Yorba
Zampa Lane Al Zampa

See also

Further reading

  • Henry C. Carlisle (2010). "Early San Francisco History from Street Names". Museum of the City of San Francisco. Retrieved .
  • John D. Casey Jr. (1996). "San Francisco Street Names". Retrieved .

External links


  1. ^ Loewenstein, Louis (1984), Streets of San Francisco: The Origins of Street & Place Names, San Francisco: Lexikos, p. 5, ISBN 0-938530-27-5
  2. ^ Reminiscences, San Francisco: The Daily Alta California, 5 June 1882, p. 1
  3. ^ a b c Ludlow, Lynn. "The Generals of Bernal Hill." Bernal Heights History Project. (Retrieved 4 Jan 2017.)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mullins, Jessica (2017-01-04). "Stories Behind San Francisco's Street Names". San Francisco Chronicle accesdate = 2017-01-04.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Editors (May 9, 2019). "Behind the Place Names of San Francisco Streets". Curbed San Francisco. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Dukakis, er, Bush Street gets sticky". UPI/New Castle News. November 5, 1988. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Will Reisman (January 21, 2009). "Obama signs temporarily replace Bush signs". The San Francisco Examiner. Archived from the original on 2009-01-23. Retrieved .
  8. ^ a b c d e f Appendix B: Streets of San Francisco. San Francisco History. San Francisco Genealogy (web site). (Retrieved 4-7-13.)
  9. ^ Phillip Matier; Andrew Ross (23 January 1995). "San Francisco May Pay Dearly For Renaming Army Street". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved .
  10. ^ Eskenazi, Joe (July 30, 2009) "White Smoke for Pope of Punk -- Dirk Dirksen Place Is a Reality." SF Weekly. (Retrieved 11-25-2012.)
  11. ^ Alexander, Jeanne "History of Duboce Park." Friends of Duboce Park. (Retrieved 11-7-2014.)
  12. ^ Brinklow, Adam (November 17, 2017) "City officially removes Justin Herman's name from plaza." Curbed San Francisco. (Retrieved June 20, 2018.)
  13. ^ Carlisle, Henry C. (1954). "Early San Francisco History from Street Names: Street Names A-F". Virtual Museum of San Francisco. Archived from the original on 2009-03-14. Retrieved .
  14. ^ Fracassa, Dominic (June 20, 2018) "Citing racist connection, SF changes Phelan Avenue to Frida Kahlo Way." San Francisco Chronicle. (Retrieved June 20, 2018.)
  15. ^ Taylor, Michael (June 28, 2005). "Gene Friend -- longtime public servant". Chronicle Staff Writer.
  16. ^ Carlisle, Henry C. (1954). "Early San Francisco History from Street Names: Street Names G-M". Virtual Museum of San Francisco. Retrieved .
  17. ^ Rathmell, George (October 2009) "Green Street Excursion." Nob Hill Gazette. (Retrieved 11-7-2014.)
  18. ^ a b "Local Herstory: Who Is Haight St. Really Named After? | Hoodline". Retrieved .
  19. ^ a b Carlisle, Henry C. (1954). "Early San Francisco History from Street Names: Miscellaneous". Virtual Museum of San Francisco. Retrieved .
  20. ^ Kamiya, Gary (August 1, 2014) "1856 vigilantes changed corrupt political system." San Francisco Chronicle. (Retrieved 8-3-2014.)
  21. ^ Colbruno, Michael (September 2, 2007) "Charles Main (1817-1906) - Main St. in SF named after him." Lives of the Dead. (Retrieved Jan 4, 2017.)
  22. ^ Brinklow, Adam (November 16, 2016) "Meet San Francisco's newest street, Martin Avenue." Curbed San Francisco. (Retrieved May 9, 2019.)
  23. ^ a b c Carlisle, Henry C. (1954). "Early San Francisco History from Street Names: Street Names N-Z". Virtual Museum of San Francisco. Retrieved .
  24. ^ a b Sharpsteen, William C. (June 1941) "Appendix B: Notes on Mission Bay and the Marshes and Creeks of the Potreros and the Bernal Rancho." Archived 2008-02-15 at the Wayback Machine The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. From the California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XXI, No. 2.
  25. ^ Cotter, Adrian (2014-06-10). "Creeks to Sewers". SF Natural History Series.
  26. ^ Kamiya, Gary (August 2014) "Hidden Waters." San Francisco Magazine. Page 78.
  27. ^ "San Francisco Street Names". John Casey's site. Retrieved .
  28. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (October 30, 2012) "Woodward's Gardens comes to life in book." SFGate. (Retrieved 11-7-2014.)

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