Sunnyside street-name changes, new and old

Phelan Ave street sign. Photo: Amy O'Hair

Next week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors votes to approve changing the name of Phelan Avenue to Frida Kahlo Way. This is far from the first such change for this neighborhood’s streets, and a good occasion to look at the several other name changes over the years since its beginning.

1891. Sunnyside homestead map. About 3’x6′. Photographed and montaged by Amy O’Hair. San Francisco History Center. San Francisco Public Library. View larger.
Detail from southwest corner of Sunnyside homestead map. Only three of eight street names here are still in use. View larger. 

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A Bridge between Neighborhoods: the Santa Rosa Underpass

A now-lost bit of infrastructure connected two neighborhoods for six decades, an underpass below the Southern Pacific railroad tracks that extended Santa Rosa Avenue to meet Circular Avenue and Congo Street.

1927, Santa Rosa Bridge. Circular Ave at Congo Street. Southern Pacific railroad tracks running at crest of embankment. Houses on left located on Flood Ave. wnp36.03489

In the usual way of things then, Sunnysiders asked for this relatively minor, yet vital link for many years before the city built it. From the neighborhood’s beginning in 1891 and for decades to come, Sunnyside was hemmed in.[1]  Sutro Forest blocked the west, Phelan Ave was not yet built through on the south, there was no road over the railroad tracks on the east, and no passage over Mt Davidson on the north. You came in via Chenery or San Jose Road, and left the same way, usually on the electric streetcar.    Read more

The creek that ran through Sunnyside

Washout at Monterey and Edna, Feb 1915.

Before it was diverted into the drains–probably in the 1920s after improvements to streets and sewers–Sunnyside had a tributary of Islais Creek running through it. Sounds bucolic perhaps, but it seems mostly to have been a nuisance to residents, and for one man, his death-trap.

Where the creek in Sunnyside ran. Composite from map and googlemaps for position of streets. Please visit for more on this remarkable mapping of our old waterways.
Where the creek in Sunnyside ran. Composite from map and googlemaps for position of streets. Please visit for more about our old waterways.

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