Local History


Photo illustration: The Mission during the 1906 quake vs. today

The 1906 earthquake leveled most of San Francisco and its old glamour. But the city persisted, rebuilt and now looks to the future. We thought it would be neat to look at some nearby places and see what they looked like during or after the great earthquake and compare it to how the city looks now. All of the archive...

Mission history: bars of long ago

The Mission has long been an entertainment zone for the city — home to racetracks, bear and bullfights, beer parlors (including The Willows), and other amusements. Some of those old bars, such as Elixir (established in 1858) and Homestead (since 1902), still stand, while several have gone the way of the dinosaur. This week, we will be exploring some of the watering...
An old classic vintage car parks in front of Discolandia building

A blast from the past: Discolandia

Discolandia closed January 16, 2011. This post was published on July 22, 2010, and was written by Melissa San Miguel. Ritmo Latino, Virgin Megastore, Tower and Mission Music are all gone. But on any given day, customers still drop by Discolandia on 24th Street to listen to albums and visit with its owner, Silvia Rodriguez. The store is more sparse...

The rise and fall of one of SF’s first Latino businesses

La Victoria Bakery has been selling Mexican pastries on 24th Street since 1951 – all but 15 of its 67 years from the corner of 24th and Alabama, where its bright green, yellow and red sign jutting out from the building’s corner has become a landmark of the commercial corridor. Now, more than a half-century later, the building has become...

Is the Wash Club building a historic resource to SF’s Mission?

Last week, the Board of Supervisors declined to vote on an appeal of an eight-story, 75-unit project that is to replace a laundromat at 2918 Mission St. Instead, the vote will take place once a study answers the question of whether the building is a historic resource. It will take at least four months. District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, in...

Life as it is: beloved Mission District photographer dies at 71

In one of Ted Pushinsky’s photos, three boys stand at the 24th Street BART plaza. Two of them wear Stetson hats, one of them dances, and all three wear baggy slacks and shined-up shoes. Two of them read a sheet of paper whose words remain hidden from view. While it is only a black-and-white photograph — one taken in the...

Detour Dance’s ‘Fugue’ uncovers history of SF’s queer people of color

Meet your guide at the corner of 23rd and Folsom streets on an overcast evening, just before the Red Poppy Art House starts buzzing, in front of four woodcut portraits of people passed but not forgotten. Choose a name for yourself, and prepare for a journey that has been two years in the making. “Tonight we leave the city,” your...

After dark history, Homestead rings in 115 years

When Deb Welch first stepped into The Homestead, a bar at the corner 19th and Folsom, it was love at first sight. It was 1996, and a Japanese blues band was playing a tune in the corner. “There was hay all over the floor, and the band didn’t speak a word of English,” she said. “It was so bizarre.” Welch...

The sweet bread for the Day of the Dead has its own SF story to tell

All month, residents and tourists have visited the panaderias in the Mission District to purchase the pan de muertos, a sweet bread traditionally made in the weeks leading up to the Day of the Dead or Día de Los Muertos. It’s as if the bread was a Mission tradition. But, only 42 years ago, it was not common fare. “We...

After nearly 100 years, SF mortuary is alive and kicking

Locked away in the basement safe at the Duggan Welch funeral home on 17th street are old record books, some dating back to the days when the mortuary carried out funeral processions by horse and carriage. Steven Welch, the current owner, flipped through the pages. The earliest books are in his great-grandfather’s cursive. Later documents are in his grandmother’s handwriting...

Review: Cary Cordova’s romp through the Mission Renaissance

Every city has its moment – a time when events and people converge in one place to define it for years to come.  Drill down and those moments – often decades long – are generally associated with neighborhoods –  Montmartre in the first years of the 20th Century,  Harlem in the 1920s, Soho in the late 1970s and early 1980s....

One vacant block in SF’s Mission reaches back into another era

Two grey buildings on 23rd Street loom like tombstones across the bright green lawn of Parque Ninos Unidos. The two buildings, which share three addresses between them—3067, 3069 and 3071—are noticeable for their state of disrepair. The rooms are empty, the upstairs windows shattered and exteriors are a motley pastiche of white and grey. Hastily applied patches of paint cover...

Tonight: Launch party for book celebrating stories and murals of the Mission

In a burst of color and poetry, a new book of photography and writing called The Mission will enter the literary scene at the Grand Theater tonight. The Mission‘s focus is on the community murals the neighborhood is known for, photographed by Richard Evans, but also delves deeper than their artistic surfaces. With poetry and musings from important artistic and literary figures in...

Starting Friday, peep into the Mission’s past

Our friends at the Mission Media Arts Archive collective will be featuring This Was Then, a compilation of three short films featuring the Mission in the 1970s and 1980s at the Peephole Cinema in Orange Alley near 26th Street.  The shorts will show 24-hours a day from Friday through May 18. The films include a youth council strike, a day in Dolores Park...

Elixir Bar: A Deep Fount of Mission History

When you grab a drink at Elixir on 16th and Guerrero streets, you might not know you’re inside the city’s second-oldest saloon, running since 1858. On Saturday, boozehound historians of the E Clampus Vitus association will reveal a historic plaque at Elixir denoting its venerated status. Mission Local talked with owner H. Joseph Ehrmann, the 11th (or perhaps 12th, given...