San Francisco History Days 2020 Programs – Saturday

San Francisco History Days 2020 – Saturday

All Day – (In-Person) New Self-Guided Walking Tour of Pacific Heights with San Francisco Heritage

Learn more about some of our city’s grandest architecture with the new self-guided Heritage walking tour of Eastern Pacific Heights. With a helpful appendix on Victorian architectural aspects and terms, the tour covers approximately 15 blocks (0.8 mile) from Van Ness Avenue to Fillmore Street and starts at Heritage’s very own Haas-Lilienthal House. You can print out the tour from a PDF file or access it on Google Maps with your smart phone.
Please access the tour PDF HERE, which you can print out and bring with you on your walk. Additionally, you may access the Google Maps version of the tour on your smartphone HERE.
This event is free and no pre-registration is required.

All Day – (In-Person) Self-Guided Walking Tour of Chinatown with the San Francisco Historical Society

This “Secrets of Chinatown” walking tour, developed by tour guide Gloria Lenhart, begins at the San Francisco Historical Society Museum in the heart of San Francisco’s historic urban core.  Download the City Explorer San Francisco mobile app onto a mobile device by scanning the QR code on the front gates of the museum at 608 Commercial Street, site of San Francisco’s first mint.

Then the walking tour leads you on a journey of discovery through Chinatown, one of San Francisco’s oldest neighborhoods. There are 15 stops along the route. Portsmouth Square (where the Goddess of Democracy lives), Wentworth Place, the Chinese Telephone Company, Tin How Temple, and St. Mary’s Square are just a few of the places you’ll visit on the tour. Historic photos of Chinatown in the 1890s and early 1900s by noted photographer Arnold Genthe accompany the tour. The app provides background information about many of the stops.

Quizzes, a map of the route, and street views of each stop via Google earth make this journey one you shouldn’t miss. It’s free, it’s fun, and you can enjoy the tour from the comfort of your armchair.

This event is free and no pre-registration is required. 

All Day – (In-Person) Self-Guided Walking Tour of The Barbary Coast with the San Francisco Historical Society

This “Bohemians, Beats and the Barbary Coast” walking tour, developed by tour guide Gloria Lenhart, begins at the San Francisco Historical Society Museum in the heart of San Francisco’s historic urban core. Download the City Explorer San Francisco mobile app onto a mobile device by scanning the QR code on the front gates of the museum at 608 Commercial Street, site of San Francisco’s first mint.

There are 10 stops along the route. You’ll visit the Montgomery Block, the Belli Building, the Columbus Tower, and City Lights bookstore.  You’ll visit the Canessa Printing building, once home to the Black Cat Café, a gathering place for bohemian artists and one of the city’s first gay nightclubs.

Quizzes, audio recordings, a map of the route and street views of each stop via Google earth make this journey one you shouldn’t miss.  It’s free, it’s fun, and you can enjoy the tour from the comfort of your armchair.

This event is free and no pre-registration is required. 

All Day – (In-Person) Self Guided Walking Tour and Scavenger Hunt with the SFMTA Photo Archive

Walking Tour: Learn more about the history of transit in the Castro neighborhood with this SFMTA Photo Archive self-guided walking tour highlighting the 40thAnniversary of the Muni Metro Subway. The tour takes about 30 minutes, cover just over one mile, and centers around the area near the intersection at Market and Castro Streets.

The self-guided tour is available as a PDF document. There are two versions, each with the exact same content, but with different formatting to give you options for optimal viewing. The standard size works best for most purposes, including printing or viewing as a downloaded PDF, while the narrow size was designed especially for mobile devices with a small screen. You may want to test both versions to determine which size works for you.

Scavenger Hunt: This “ferries to fun” history scavenger hunt is for kids and kids-at-heart alike!  Take a trip down to San Francisco’s most famous clock tower for a search for hidden historical treasures. Can you find them all?

This event is free and no pre-registration is required.

10:00AM – (Virtual) Touring the United Irish Cultural Center  with the United Irish Cultural Center

We look forward to taking participants on a tour of the UICC, now celebrating its 45th year. Starting Saturday, join archivist and librarian Jennifer Drennan and UICC member Elizabeth Creely as they take you on the first of two tours of the UICC, starting in the Dowling Library, which has one of the most unique, local collections of San Francisco Irish Americana in California, and ending in the member’s room for quick chat on Irish villages, Norman ruins and world fairs.

This event is free but pre-registration is required. 

10:00AM – (Virtual) West Portal, Claremont Court & Merritt Terrace with Western Neighborhoods Project

San Francisco is not known for its picturesque suburban streets, landscaping, detached houses, and setbacks that convey the feeling of living in a park. But between 1905 and 1924, thirty-six such neighborhoods called “residence parks” were proposed or built in the City. Some of the better-known ones are St. Francis Wood, Forest Hill and Sea Cliff but there were many others.

WNP Board Member Richard Brandi wrote THE book about these developments (due the end of the year via McFarland Publishing), and he will lead you through West Portal Park, Claremont Court and Merritt Terrace on a fun and entertaining virtual walk.

Sponsored by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development via the Invest in Neighborhoods Program, courtesy of District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer.

This virtual online event is free but pre-registration is required. 

10:00AM – (Virtual) The Presidio of San Francisco: From Spanish Colonial Outpost to National Park with the Presidio Historical Association

Join Professor Emeritus Robert Cherny for this overview of San Francisco’s Presidio from its foundings to its present, covering almost 250 years of history!

This Event is Free but Pre-Registration is Required.

10:30AM – (Virtual) Emperor Norton Live! The Ruler Who Decreed Treasure Island with the Treasure Island Museum

Almost 70 years before Treasure Island was built, its construction was mandated by an imperial proclamation.

The royal in question was, of course, San Francisco’s favorite eccentric, Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. His August 1869 decree also required the building of the Bay Bridge.

In this lecture, Emperor Norton himself, as famously portrayed by Joseph Amster, will employ a magic lantern (ok, PowerPoint) to present his life and times, with special emphasis on his connection to Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands.

You will learn about Emperor Norton—the man and the myth, his rise and fortune, how he lost everything and became the Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, how San Francisco embraced his Imperial reign, the truth about Bummer and Lazarus, The Widow Norton, Norton’s relationship to the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, his death and burial, and much more.

Speaker: Joseph Amster is a tour guide, journalist, historian, California native, and resident of San Francisco on and off since the ‘70s. He has he worked as editor of the Orange County Blade and IN Los Angeles magazines, and as a cook at San Francisco’s legendary Salmagundi restaurant. He is a board member of the San Francisco History Association and E Clampus Vitus Yerba Buena Chapter 1, and a co-founder of the Emperor Norton Legacy League. He and husband Rick Shelton founded Time Machine Tours, which offers Emperor Norton and other tours, and does lectures, weddings, and special events.

This event is free but pre-registration is required. 

10:30AM – (In-Person) Golden Gate Park East with San Francisco City Guides

It was the 1860s, and everyone had heard about New York City’s Central Park — a spacious plot of green that contrasted sharply with the metallic landscape beyond. To recreate such a space in San Francisco, city officials looked west, where the unincorporated Outside Lands lied dormant and unused. By the turn of the century, Golden Gate Park had developed into an enormous playground for a recreation-starved city, earning its nickname as the “Lungs of San Francisco”.

Extending from the Conservatory of Flowers to the Music Concourse, the East End is home to sites both historically significant and contemporarily beautiful — including AIDS Grove, the Shakespeare Garden, Children’s Playground and the Music Concourse. We’ll also take a trip (optional, but encouraged) to the De Young Museum’s tower for a panoramic view of the park. Breathe deep and enjoy a natural oasis on the Pacific.

Pay what you can on a sliding scale of $0-15; pre-registration required.

11:00AM – (Virtual) Ask an Author with Alexander Tarr

Join us for an informal, 30-minute “Ask an Author” Q&A session with Alexander Tarr, co-author of A People’s Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Alexander Tarr is Assistant Professor of Geography at Worcester State University. His research, writing, and cartography examine the development of cities, food politics, and digital culture. His work, co-authored with Rachel Bahinsky, is an alternative history and geography of the Bay Area that highlights sites of oppression, resistance, and transformation.

This event is free but pre-registration is required.

11:00AM – (In-Person) Green City Gardens with Planet Drum Foundation

As one of our few Participating Locations for San Francisco History Days 2020, you can join Planet Drum Foundation in identifying native plants and replacing name plates in their gardens at  Harper and 30th Streets. You can also visit this location for self-guided tours of the Sidewalk Gardens all weekend.

This event is free and no pre-registration is required. 

11:00AM – (Virtual) A Tale of Two Connected Sites with The Presidio Trust

Join John Bertland, Presidio Trust Digital Librarian, for a presentation on the history of two connected sites on the northern edge of the Presidio where the Partnership for the Presidio – the Presidio Trust, the Golden Gate NRA, and the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy – is currently engaged in major ecological restoration and development projects. Learn about Quartermaster Reach and the latest stage in the daylighting of Tennessee Hollow, which will connect the creek to Crissy Marsh and which will be completed later this year. Bertrand will also explore the site next to it which features the much anticipated Tunnel Tops project, 14 new acres of parkland over the recently reconstructed Doyle Drive and which will connect the Main Post to Crissy Field.

While quartermaster logistical support has been a major theme in the history of both areas, they have been the sites (or very near the sites) of a wide variety of functions including the Ohlone village of Petlenuc, gardens, a target range, the principal route from the Main Post to the main wharf (non-extant), hospital buildings including an isolation ward, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a place to watch air shows, Doyle Drive, Women’s Army Corps barracks, and a Burger King.

This event is free but pre-registration is required. 

11:00AM – 3:00PM – (In-Person) Self-Guided Tour of Treasure Island with the Treasure Island Museum

Staff from the Treasure Island Museum they will be tabling in front of Building One on the island where you can collect a self-guided history tour pamphlet. You can also access this map online.

This event is free and no pre-registration is required.

12:00PM – (Virtual) Ask an Author with Lincoln Mitchell

Join us for an informal, 30-minute “Ask an Author” Q&A session with Lincoln Mitchell, author of San Francisco Year Zero: Political Upheaval, Punk Rock and a Third-Place Baseball Team.

Lincoln Mitchell is a writer and professor who grew up in San Francisco and now lives in New York City where he teaches in the political science department at Columbia University. San Francisco Year Zero is his sixth book. Lincoln writes primarily on American politics and foreign policy, baseball and San Francisco, but rarely in the same piece. He has been widely published in American and European journals, newspapers and other media. Lincoln has been a Giants fan since the mid-1970s.

This Event is Free but Pre-Registration is Required.

SOLD OUT. 12:00PM – (In-Person) Black Point and Fort Mason with Shaping San Francisco SOLD OUT.

Thank you, San Francisco History Days 2020 attendees! This event was so popular that registration is now closed. 

We traverse the grounds of the old military base and discover histories of farms, soldiers, abolitionists, and a lost lagoon. From the Fontana Towers to Aquatic Park we discuss urban development, ecology, slavery, World’s Fairs, and militarism.
Led by Chris Carlsson and LisaRuth Elliott

SOLD OUT. This event is free but pre-registration is required and we have limited capacity. SOLD OUT.

12:00PM – (Virtual) Diversity and Inclusion in Public Spaces: African American Artist Sargent Johnson at the San Francisco Maritime Museum with San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Join us for a San Francisco History Days exclusive tour of the San Francisco Maritime Museum led by Park Guide Alvin Riveras focused on the artist Sargent Johnson.

Sargent Claude Johnson was one of only two African American artists employed by the Works Progress Administration in California. His artwork in the Maritime Museum reflects a fusion of American and traditional African cultures. Discover how he portrays and elevates a positive identity for African Americans through his art in 1930’s America – a time when such representation would not have been visible.

This event is free but pre-registration is required.

1:00PM – (Virtual) Legacy of the Glen Park Curve: 250 Years of Transit History in the I-280 Corridor with Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project

Join Glen Park historian Evelyn Rose, Director of the Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project, as we recall a major route of our local transit history. There have been many changes in the Glen Park-Sunnyside-Fairmount district over the past 200 years yet a familiar and recognizable curve in the road has persisted. We’ll discuss the earliest traces and trails, including the El Camino Real, that would lead to the San Francisco-San Jose Rail Road, later the Southern Pacific; the city’s first electric route, the San Francisco-San Mateo Electric Railway; the Geneva Car Barns that later became the MUNI yards; the construction of Interstate 280; and finally, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System.

This event is free but pre-registration is required. 

SOLD OUT. 1:00PM – (Virtual) Revealing San Francisco’s Hidden 19th-Century Black History: A Tour of California Historical Society Artifacts with the Institute for Historical Study SOLD OUT.

Co-sponsored by the California Historical Society and the California African American Museum

Thank you, San Francisco History Days 2020 attendees! This event was so popular that registration is now closed. 

Join Susan D. Anderson, history curator of the California African American Museum, for a talk and tour of artifacts that reveal the hidden history of San Francisco’s 19th-century African American past. Anderson’s talk begins with the Gold Rush and weaves the state’s raucous beginnings into the national narrative.

The photographs, manuscripts, and publications in this presentation allow viewers to experience the urgency of early campaigns for civil rights and the fervent hopes of the African American community. Learn about the beloved ship’s captain who has a street named for him in West Oakland. Hear a Civil War poem by a distinguished Black poet and friend of John Brown proclaimed in public in 1864 San Francisco. See court documents of the lawsuit brought to challenge discrimination on streetcars 90 years before Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

This presentation proves that California history is more challenging, complicated, and fascinating than we’ve been taught. Hosted and co-sponsored by the Institute for Historical Study, co-sponosred by the California Historical Society and the California African American Museum.

SOLD OUT. This event is free but pre-registration is required. SOLD OUT.

1:00PM – (Virtual) Ask an Author with Matthew Booker

Join us for an informal, 30-minute “Ask an Author” Q&A session with Matthew Booker, author of Down by the Bay: San Francisco’s History Between the Tides. This is the first environmental history of San Francisco Bay. It treats the area as both a natural and a human space; as both estuary and city.

Born in Berkeley, Matthew Booker was raised in rural western Sonoma County. He taught environmental history at North Carolina State University for sixteen years, before joining the National Humanities Center in July 2020 as its Vice President for Scholarly Programs.

This Event is Free but Pre-registration is Required. 

1:00PM – (In-Person) Boots to Books Literary Walking Tour with Bikes to Books

Finally a tour for all the folks who have told the Bikes to Books founders “I’d love to come, but I just don’t bike.” This one-mile stroll through literary North Beach visits some of our favorite Bikes to Books locations and authors and a bunch of new ones, visiting over sixty years of literary history in a two-hour tour. All participants get a complementary copy of our companion sixteen-page minizine (and we’ll show folks how to fold them as well!)

In 1988, twelve streets were renamed for artists and authors who’d once called San Francisco their home, on a proposal from City Lights Books founder, and former SF Poet Laureate, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. In 2013, the Bikes to Books literary history bicycling tour and mapping project was born, co-created by Nicole Gluckstern and Burrito Justice. In 2019 we made our first SF History Days appearance, and also debuted our Boots to Books walking tour. We’re excited for the opportunity to combine the two this year and hope you’ll join us!

Event is free but Pre-Registration is Required. For the sake of public health and safety, attendance is limited to ensure social distancing and masks are required. Route includes some hills and narrow walkways. PG-13 content (not recommended for young children). Posters and maps will be available for purchase on the tour.

1:00PM – (In-Person) The Presidio with San Francisco City Guides 

From Spain, to Mexico, to the United States — The Presidio has been home to more militaries than almost any other fortress in America. And for good reason: it’s a sprawling, fortified estate strategically located at the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula. During the Spanish-American War, it was where America’s troops were trained and shipped across the Pacific. A decade later, it would be an oasis for earthquake survivors, housing refugees and coordinating rescue efforts.

Lawmakers transformed the space into a National Park in 1996, and since then the Presidio has become one of the greatest (and greenest) places to explore in all of San Francisco. Join us on a walk through San Francisco’s panoramic, luscious park, with wooded areas and scenic views as far as the eye can see.

Pay what you can on a sliding scale of $0-15; pre-registration required.

1:30PM – (In-Person) 1850’s Paris of the Pacific with San Francisco City Guides

Everyone in France heard the rumors. Or saw the news reports “of gold mines…fabulous riches awaiting only the hands of miners to be picked up.” Some packed their bags and set off for California. These French left their mark on the culture of the booming city. The French influenced society, especially in food and fashion. Without them, it’s hard to imagine San Francisco becoming our sophisticated, cosmopolitan metropolis.

We will walk through the heart of Gold Rush San Francisco and learn the stories of some of the thousands of French who influenced the City’s development with restaurants, bakeries, shops, laundries, banks and bordellos. From the Gold Rush to today, San Francisco has been the “Paris of the Pacific!”

Pay what you can on a sliding scale of $0-15; pre-registration required.

2:00PM – (Virtual) Treasure Island: Build It and They Will Come – Organized Labor at the Golden Gate International Exposition with The Living New Deal

From the first scoops of mud to the final coat of paint applied to the buildings of the Golden Gate International Exposition, organized labor was there. Join Harvey Smith, Project Advisor for the Living New Deal and author of “Berkeley and the New Deal” for a presentation discussing the contributions of organized labor to the creation of Treasure Island, and the construction of the courts and palaces of the exposition, where Labor Day was honored in both 1939 and 1940 with special ceremonies. Over half the cost of the World’s Fair was contributed by the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration and the Public Works Administration.

This event is free but pre-registration is required.

2:00PM – (Virtual) Ask an Authorwith Robert Barde + Pat Cunneen

Join us for an informal, 30-minute “Ask an Author” Q&A session with Bob Barde and Pat Cunneen, co-authors of South End: Sport and Community at the Dock of the Bay.

Bob Barde is the retired Deputy Director of the Institute of Business and Economic Research at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was also Executive Director of the Experimental Social Science Laboratory (aka Xlab). He has written on immigration and public health for a number of scholarly journals and even has a little piece on maritime history for Sea History.

Pat Cunneen has been a member of the South End Rowing Club for over fifty years.  He was born and raised in San Francisco and was a firefighter in Daly City.  Pat is also an engraver and an accomplished artist.  He now lives in Santa Rosa, and has been the South End’s de facto historian since the invention of movable type.

This Event is Free but Pre-registration is Required. 

2:00PM – (In-Person) Japantown with San Francisco City Guides

In the late 1800’s, what is now known as San Francisco’s Japantown hosted a vibrant Jewish community, as the sites of three present or former synagogues attest. Japantown per se dates from the earthquake and fire of 1906. During World War II, Japanese American residents were sent to internment camps and replaced largely by African Americans, whose thriving businesses included many jazz clubs. Beginning in the 1950’s, a decades-long urban renewal project reshaped both the neighborhood’s population and its physical landscape. Today we see classic Victorians next to Japanese-style architecture, as well as the ghosts of historic jazz clubs replaced by modern structures of glass and steel.

Pay what you can on a sliding scale of $0-15; pre-registration required.

3:00PM – (Virtual) Libraries of the Barbary Coast, 1848-1879 with Mechanics’ Institute

San Francisco since its birth has been a literary town. The thousands of people who came to California during the Gold Rush were voracious readers – eager to catch up on the news of the day and to while away the time between shifts in the gold fields with a good book. While many were as simple as a bookshelf of titles in a boarding house; there was a great need for true libraries (with their own building, an organized collection of books, and a staff) to serve the needs of the city’s growing population. In this illustrated lecture, librarian Taryn Edwards will describe the importance of these early libraries as centers for information (i.e. where the best gold diggin’s were), self-guided education, camaraderie, and social change.

This Event is Free but Pre-Registration is Required.

3:00PM – (Virtual) Ask an Author with Paul Bignardi

Join us for an informal, 30-minute “Ask an Author” Q&A session with Paul Bignardi, author of A Fleet History of the San Francisco Municipal Railway.

Paul Bignardi was born in San Francisco and grew up in South San Francisco, San Bruno and Daly City.  He spent a lot of time in The City while growing up, including riding all types of Muni transit vehicles.  He graduated from S.F State University with BA degrees in Political Science and History, an MPA, and with a JD from UC-Hastings Law.  He has worked for over 24 years in Transit Planning at AC Transit, the National Park Service, and 14 years at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA – current parent agency of Muni).

This event is free but pre-registration is required.

4:00PM – (Virtual) Press, Bindery, and Foundry Tour with The Arion Press

Take a guided tour of the nation’s oldest and largest type foundry located in the Presidio of San Francisco. Designated an “irreplaceable cultural treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Mackenzie & Harris was established with demonstration Monotype machines from the Panama Pacific International Exposition’s Palace of Machinery. These have been preserved as part of the historic foundry, still in operation on a full-time basis, where handset and composition “hot metal” type is manufactured for the Arion Press and other letterpress customers.

This event is free but pre-registration is required.

5:00PM – (Virtual) The Two Browns of San Francisco: Conversations with Jerry Brown and Willie Brown with the Oral History Center of the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

In this presentation, OHC Director Martin Meeker and OHC Historian Todd Holmes discuss their oral histories with Governor Jerry Brown and Mayor Willie Brown. One a San Francisco native, the other a migrant who made the city his lifelong home, both Browns became political icons and left indelible imprints on the state of California. Here Meeker and Holmes feature segments of their recorded oral histories on their lives in San Francisco.

Visit the Oral History Center’s San Francisco History Days 2020 Home Page for more on the City’s history, the OHC, and the Center’s collection at the Bancroft Library.

This event is free but pre-registration is required.

6:00PM – (Virtual) Film Screening: San Francisco Cable Cars with November Fire

Join filmmaker Strephon Taylor for a screening of his documentary, San Francisco Cable Cars (2017), after which he’ll provide a Q&A session.

Before our modern transportation systems, cities in the United States were about as large across as the distance a person could walk. As technology advanced after the Civil War, the horse-bus became the preferred method of transportation and cities began becoming larger. After witnessing a horsecar accident that resulted in the destruction of the animals, Andrew Smith Hallidie, a San Francisco resident, put his knowledge of Gold Rush ore mining using steel rope into use with the very first steam driven public transportation system. On Clay Street in 1873, the first cable car was successfully put into action and began our ride through history. Hallidie’s inspiration would soon become the transport for the country and the rest of the world. The 1906 earthquake and fire nearly ended its use, as did its consolidation and bribes to city politicians. Finally, it took the leadership of a woman to save the last working lines in the world from a city seemingly resigned to live without its historic transport. Ride along on the ropes with historians and the people who still work with the cars everyday. At over 140 years old, the San Francisco Cable Cars are a moving monument, a snapshot of nearly lost technology, a romance story, and the very heart of The City.

This event is free but pre-registration is required.

6:45PM – (Virtual) Tenderloin Neon + Matchbooks SF with San Francisco Neon and the Tenderloin Museum

Follow a historic trail via neon and matchbooks on an online journey with hosts Katie Conry from the Tenderloin Museum with Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan of SF Neon. You’ll see stunning visuals of vintage match books and neon signs from the nightclubs, hotels, and late-night greasy spoons that formed the Tenderloin’s mid-century nightscape. Just like matchbooks, historic neon signs are a fascinating synecdoche of the small businesses they represent, and a window to the past explored through material culture. Tour includes iconic businesses remembered vividly through vintage ephemera, video clips, and historic photographs.

Event is free but pre-registration is required.