Density on the Boulevard: The Apartment Buildings of Monterey

2019. 160 Monterey Blvd. Photo: Amy O'Hair.

Monterey Blvd in Sunnyside features a good many midcentury to late-twentieth-century apartment buildings, giving the neighborhood’s main street a characteristic look. This type of construction required some minor code changes for the district, which had previously been zoned for single-family and duplex buildings. The new larger structures filled up the numerous lots along the boulevard that had remained unbuilt since the founding of the neighborhood in 1891, which was the result in part of the difficult topography; the land on either side of the street is quite steep and rocky in places. Here are some 1940s photos.

Starting in the 1950s, developers consolidated lots to build large complexes, or constructed multi-unit structures on a single lot. The building could be said to have gone in three waves.

Chart showing construction of apartment and condo units on Monterey Blvd, 1958-1997. Data from SF Planning Dept.
Chart showing construction of apartment and condo units on Monterey Blvd, 1958-1997. Data from SF Planning Dept.

Although this seven-block stretch of Monterey hardly comes close to the density of the Mission District or other more urban areas in the city, Sunnyside differs from nearby neighborhoods such as Westwood Park, Miraloma Park, or Glen Park, where due to their zoning constraints or development history there are no sizable apartment buildings.   Read more

Immigrant Dreams and Long Hours: The Delicatessen at Monterey and Edna

The deli on Monterey Boulevard at Edna Street is popular with locals as well as those passing through Sunnyside on their way elsewhere. But few know it has been a deli continuously for the last 72 years, with a succession of owners. This is a story about running a local business, but also about immigrants and opportunity—and danger.

The building was constructed in 1947, part of a strip of postwar buildings that went up on previously empty lots.

The delicatessen first opened that same year, founded by two women well into their fifties, both of whom had some familiarity with restaurant work: Alma Fitch and Frances Swensson.

1948-49 San Francisco Directory.
1948-49 San Francisco Directory.

The deli’s first name—Vienna Delicatessen—was Frances’s choice; she was born Franziska Anzengruber in a little town in Austria, and came to San Francisco in her late teens sometime after the Quake and Fire of 1906.

1908c. Frances Anzengruber (at table) in Weibern Austria, just before leaving for the US.
1908c. Frances Anzengruber (at table) in Weibern Austria, just before leaving for the US. Photo courtesy Janice Smyth via Ancestry.com.

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View from Hazelwood: 1973 and Today

1973. Photo: Greg Gaar. OpenSFHistory.org

Move slider to compare photographs. Looking south from Hazelwood Ave in Sherwood Forest neighborhood on Mount Davidson. Changes at the Balboa Reservoir (center) are notable, while much else remains the same. San Bruno Mountains on horizon. View larger here.

Look at other comparison photographs here.

Monterey and Gennessee: 1940 and Today

1940. Monterey and Gennessee. OpenSFHistory.org.

Move slider to compare photographs. Note spelling of Gennessee on sign; different spellings were used during the twentieth century until a permanent return to the original 1891 spelling in the 1980s (like ‘Tennessee’ with a G). View larger here.  Look at other comparison photographs here.

Monterey to Diamond: 1919 and Today

1919. Monterey toward Diamond. OpenSFHistory.org

Move slider to compare photographs. A succession of changes here including street-widening (1918), Bernal Cut widening (1927), Interstate 280 (1964), and BART (1972) make it nearly unrecognizable one hundred years on. View larger here. Look at other comparison photographs here.