Sunnyside’s other park and the legacy of Dorothy Erskine

View from Dorothy Erskine Park. Photo: Amy O'Hair

Although Sunnyside Playground is a favorite destination for families, little known to even locals is our other park, Dorothy Erskine Park, located at the top of Baden Street. Poised on the edge of a rocky outcropping, the small park affords great views of the southeast of San Francisco, from among a grove of eucalyptus trees—though without even the amenity of a bench from which to enjoy the vista.

2018Oct-DEPark-3
2018. View from Dorothy Erskine Park.
2018Oct-DEPark-1
2018. A nearby neighbor enjoys the view after just discovering the park for the first time.

Continue reading “Sunnyside’s other park and the legacy of Dorothy Erskine”

From Tennis to Housing: The Gennessee Courts

For twenty years there were public tennis courts at the corner of Phelan and Judson Avenues—the only park facility in Sunnyside then. It attracted tennis aficionados from all over, such as these folks visiting from a fancier part of town in 1932.

1932-Tennis-Courts-Judson-Genn_NorwoodCollection_wnp26.1268
A group of well-heeled friends at the “Genessee Courts” on 15 April 1932. The house at 1 Gennessee Street can be seen in the background. OpenSFHistory.org wnp26.1268.jpg
1938-aerial-Judson-Gennessee-detail-Tennis
Detail from 1938 aerial photo below, showing tennis courts on Judson Ave near Phelan (now Frida Kahlo Way). Maybe the trees were planted to keep the nearby County Jail out of sight. DavidRumsey.com View larger map.

The facility was opened in 1927 with great fanfare—Mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph gave the dedication address, and a small army of politicians, as well as Superintendent of Parks John McLaren, gave speeches.   Continue reading “From Tennis to Housing: The Gennessee Courts”

A Park for Sunnyside

1966. SF Dept Public Works, Sunnyside Playground.

When Sunnyside was laid out in 1891, there was no provision for any public park or open space built into the plans—just rectangular blocks filled with edge-to-edge lots for building (see this early map). To put it in perspective, many more basic matters of infrastructure in the neighborhood were lacking for years: there were no streetlights or sewers, the roads were dirt, and the water supply spotty, even into the 1920s. It was not until the 1960s that Sunnyside got a park of its own.

View of the children's play area at Sunnyside Playground, Foerster Street and Melrose Avenue, San Francisco. Photo: Amy O'Hair.
View of the children’s play area at Sunnyside Playground, Foerster Street and Melrose Avenue, San Francisco. Photo: Amy O’Hair.

Continue reading “A Park for Sunnyside”

A Savior on a Rocky Knoll

Dorothy Erskine Park. Photo: Amy O'Hair

In 1913 someone who was far from home, new to the City, and despairing of his future came to a lonely hilltop at the northern edge of Sunnyside to do away with himself. But he didn’t count on the appearance of a local man, Hugo Ekenberg of 400 Joost Ave, who would save his life. The “knoll” where it probably happened is one of our hidden treasures, the rocky outcropping now called Dorothy Erskine Park, at the top of Baden Street.

Dorothy Erskine Park, 2016. Photo: Amy O'Hair.
Dorothy Erskine Park, near Baden Street and Mangels Ave. 2016. Photo: Amy O’Hair.

Here is the news report in the San Francisco Call (19 April 1913):

SF Chronicle, 19 April 1913. From newspapers.com. The reporter has altered Hugo Ekenberg's name, perhaps at Ekenberg's request.
SF Chronicle, 19 April 1913. From newspapers.com. The reporter has altered Hugo Ekenberg’s name, perhaps at Ekenberg’s request.

Continue reading “A Savior on a Rocky Knoll”

The creek that ran through Sunnyside

Washout at Monterey and Edna, Feb 1915. OpenSFHistory.org.

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

Continue reading “The creek that ran through Sunnyside”