We have lost a few bits of the original streets. The blocks laid out by the surveyor in 1891 were perfectly rectangular and the streets die-straight. All the better to milk maximum profits from the sale of lots–no extra wedge-shaped bits, or wasteful little parks to clutter up the profit landscape. But reality meant changes had to be made in that rigid map in the course of building out the neighborhood in the twentieth century.

Half-page ad for new Sunnyside real estate speculation project. 26 April 1892, SF Chronicle. From newspapers.com.
1891 half-page newspaper ad for the new Sunnyside real estate speculation project. Drawing is closely based on original homestead map submitted to the City. 26 April 1891, SF Chronicle. From newspapers.com.

The grid looks tidy on paper, but Sunnyside has some hills, so such straight lines aren’t practical or possible (let alone appealing) in some places. The actual construction of houses on the hilly bits later–despite some serious dynamiting in 1910s–required changes in the original layout. Map below shows where over the years streets on the original 1891 map have simply not been developed (turquoise)–and where a few were added (hot pink).

Altered map from OpenStreetMap.org. Turquoise blue marks removed streets (from original 1892 layout) and pink marks where streets were added not included in original map. (Alterations: Amy O'Hair)
Altered map of Sunnyside from OpenStreetMap.org. Turquoise blue marks removed streets (from original 1891 layout) and pink marks where streets were added not included in original map. Zoom for better look. (Alterations: Amy O’Hair)

Detroit Street got a block and a half of staircases to mount the steep hill there. Most of Edna Street above Monterey was impossible to make into a viable street due to the slope. One block of Edna was moved to the west, which is where, thanks to gravity, the sewer line had to go. The corner of Melrose/Ridgewood was shaved off to fall in line with the Miraloma Park curvy-street program. And the tiny bit of Acadia south of Monterey Blvd was too tiny to bother putting in at all.

The builder who put in houses on the 300 block of Staples in the mid-1920s gave them a rear-access lane, and named it Sunnyside Terrace, which is but a faint echo of our once-bustling(ish) eponymous main street, Sunnyside Avenue. (That thoroughfare has been Monterey Blvd since 1920–changed so the residents of St Francis Wood would feel more comfortable living on it.)

Most streets were dirt roads until paving in the 1920s, while others were barely footpaths even as late as the 1960s. Here is the 1938 aerial photograph composite, marked up in green where theoretical streets were at that time still not paved, and sometimes even impassable.

1938 aerial photos, from davidrumsey.com. Unpaved or completely undeveloped roads marked in green.
1938 aerial photos. Unpaved or completely undeveloped roads marked in green. Visit DavidRumsey.com to see these fascinating photos at greater resolution.

One longtime Sunnyside resident who grew up on the 400 block of Mangels remembers how in the 1960s a barrier was erected on the north side of Mangels/Detroit intersection to keep rogue motorcyclists from joyriding over the unbuilt hills. (Those were the days when Sunnyside had a Hell’s Angels’ bigwig living on Hearst Ave.)

Here is the 1938 aerial photo composite of San Francisco.

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