Street Names in Sunnyside

A brief summary the origins of Sunnyside’s street names, including old names that have been changed. Use this map to stay oriented. More about Sunnyside’s streets and street names here. More about Sunnyside’s original boundaries here.

Acadia   Baden  Circular Congo  Detroit  Edna  Flood  Foerster  Frida Kahlo Gennessee  Hamburg Havelock Hearst  Joost  Judson  Mangels  Marston  Melrose  Milton  Monterey  Moulton  Phelan  Ridgewood  Spreckels  Staples  Sunnyside  Wieland

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Acadia Street

  • Acadia Street was named for: A large area of eastern Canada called Acadia, known by its Old French colonial name Acadie, which covered the areas now known as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Site of colonial land and resource appropriation by France, subsequently taken over by imperial Britain, which instituted a forced mass deportation of residents. Read the full story here.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company in particular (*) James P. McCarthy (1847-1924) L.A. real estate capitalist, the leading organizer of the project. The historic Acadia was near McCarthy’s hometown, Oswego, New York.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Sometimes this street was misspelled as Arcadia in the early 20th century.
  • Note: The general theme of referencing European/American colonizing projects in Sunnyside’s initial street names was one clearly pursued by the investors and organizers of the property speculation project, as we will see in the course of this page.  

Baden Street

  • Baden Street was named for: ‘Baden’ was the original name of the city of South San Francisco, which was the terminus of the San Francisco and San Mateo Electric Railway, the city’s first electric streetcar. Sunnyside’s development was completely linked to this pioneering project. The Sunnyside Powerhouse was located on Monterey at Baden Street. Read more about that here.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company, in particular probably Behrend Joost, President of the company; the electric streetcar project was his passion, and the neighborhood was a mere adjunct. More about Joost here.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: As well, many of the initial investors in Sunnyside Land Co. had strong links to Germany, where the famous resort town of Baden-Baden attracted both the well-heeled and the middle-class in the 19th century. In particular, Philip Rohrbacher (1838-1897) brewery capitalist, who was from that area, and John Henry Mangels, who was fond of visits to Baden, Germany, in his youth. (More about the German brewery roots of Sunnyside here.)
  • Note: Germans say “Bahden” but San Franciscans say “Bayden.”

Circular Avenue

  • Circular Avenue was named for: (*) Its curved shape. When Sunnyside was laid out in 1891, it skirted the sweep of the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks (built 1863), which formed the southeastern boundary of the district then. Now it runs closely along the edge of Interstate-280.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company. It is not a unique or remarkable name, and I have no other explanation than that its curve suggested its name. Everything else is die-straight.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Circular Avenue used to include the portion of the current Monterey Blvd that runs between 84 Monterey and the end of Diamond Street. A look at any map will show how that section is more in line with the current Circular Avenue. That portion was changed to being part of Monterey Blvd in 1920, at the same time that the name of Sunnyside Avenue was changed to Monterey.
  • Note: Circular Avenue was a narrow dirt track next to the railroad tracks in the early years. It was widened in the 1910s, required the fronts of some houses to be removed and rebuilt, and the removal of some houses, such as 1 Congo Street.
  • Note: During the construction of I-280 Freeway (1957-1964), several blocks of Circular Avenue were relocated to the west, necessitating the demotion or relocation of some forty houses on the blocks from Staples Ave to Havelock St.

Congo Street

  • Congo Street was named for: The Congo River of Africa. The name represents one of several street names referencing sites of European colonial resource plundering that was much admired by capitalist speculators in those years. Read the full story here.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company. In particular, (*) E. Avery McCarthy (1870-1934) real estate capitalist and Sunnyside investor, son of James P. McCarthy.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: So-called explorer Henry Morton Stanley visited San Francisco a few weeks before the street names for Sunnyside were finalized. That year he published his account of his travels up the Congo River–In Darkest Africa. EA McCarthy, who was a young man of just 20 at the time, and apparently fond of travelogues, later wrote his own such work.

Detroit Street

  • Detroit Street was named for: The city of Detroit, Michigan, on the Great Lakes. Site of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac’s massive theft of indigenous land in 1701, the straits being critical for trade in furs. Cadillac got his start plundering in Acadia. At the time of Sunnyside being laid out in 1891, Detroit was quickly developing in to a major manufacturing center, then for iron stoves (automobiles were to come). The initial investors and organizers of the Sunnyside property speculation project put great faith in both imperial resource appropriation and massive industrial capitalism, and this is reflected in some of their street name choices. (See also Congo, Gennessee, and Acadia.)
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company. In particular, (*) James P. McCarthy (1847-1924) L.A. real estate capitalist and Sunnyside developer, and/or E. Avery McCarthy, his son were originally from a city on the Great Lakes, and would have had long knowledge of Detroit’s history and industrial development.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out. 

Edna Street

  • Edna Street is named for: Edna Mohr Russ (1884-1979). A photo of the woman and a bit more about Edna Street here.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company, in particular, Edna’s father, Rudolph Mohr (1853-1928) capitalist and professional corporate secretary extraordinaire, who was secretary of the Sunnyside Land Co, and an investor who developed and sold real estate in the district for over thirty-five years.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Edna Mohr married Edmund Russ of prosperous Russ family of San Francisco in 1905.

Frida Kahlo Way (changed from Phelan Avenue)

  • Frida Kahlo Way is named for: The famed and iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954).
  • Who named it: The City and County of San Francisco, in response to campaigning from the City College community, to replace the name Phelan Avenue. Read more about that here.
  • When: 2018, by an act of the SF Board of Supervisors.

Flood Avenue

  • Flood Avenue is named for: James Clair Flood (1826-1889), the San Francisco “Silver King” mining baron, who is also the namesake of the Flood Building.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company. James C Flood was dead when Sunnyside was laid out. (*) His son, James Leary Flood (1857-1926), a real estate capitalist, and a likely Sunnyside Land Company investor, chose it to honor his father.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out. 

Foerster Street

  • Foerster Street is named for: C.E.A. (Constantine Emmanuel Adam) Foerster (1859-1898) corporate attorney, capitalist, Sunnyside investor, and Behrend Joost’s nephew. Read his story here.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company. Foerster’s legal skill was invaluable to company president Behrend Joost, and this honor would have been a natural and deserved choice.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Foerster’s parents from Darmstadt, Germany. German ö is often transliterated as ‘oe’ in English.
  • Note: Foerster founded the famous law firm Morrison and Foerster with A.F. Morrison in 1891. He died young of TB.
  • Note: There is a lecture series at UC Berkeley in Foerster’s name.

Gennessee Street

  • Gennessee Street is named for: The Genesee River in New York State, which during the nineteenth century was often spelled ‘Gennessee’ (like Tennessee with a G). The Sunnyside street name retains the older spelling. This river valley is the site of massive land appropriation from native peoples in early 19th century, and subsequent trade and industry center, all themes beloved by the Sunnyside capitalists.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company, in particular (*) James P. McCarthy (1847-1924) L.A. real estate capitalist and Sunnyside developer, who came from Oswego, New York, near the Genesee River valley.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Means ‘peaceful valley’ in Iroquois.
  • Note: The San Francisco street name was misspelled ‘Genesee’ or ‘Genessee’ in the early 20th century directories, street signs, and maps, but the original spelling was generally used after the 1930s.

Hamburg Street (original name of Ridgewood Ave)

  • Hamburg Street was named for: Hamburg, a port city in northern Germany. Its early importance in banking and trade, and its position at the mouth of the River Elbe, make it the sort of place the organizers of the Sunnyside Land Company favored, but one investor had an intimate tie to the city.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company. In particular, Rudolph Mohr (1853-1928) capitalist and corporate secretary of Sunnyside Land Co, who came to San Francisco from Hamburg, Germany, in the 1870s to find his fortune. Other investors named streets for themselves (or ostensibly their fathers), but Mohr chose his native city and his daughter (see Edna Street.).
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Changed to Ridgewood Ave in 1927, by the City, the year before Mohr passed away. This change was related to matching the new ‘-wood’ names was favored by the developers of adjacent Westwood Park/Westwood Highlands, making it so that the residents on the west side of Hamburg Street, who were part of that covenant-restricted residential park, could have a ‘-wood’ street name in their address. The changes is most probably not due to anti-German feeling left from the war nine years before.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here.

Havelock Street 

  • Havelock Street was named for: British Major General Henry Havelock, who famously put down a rebellion against British oppression in India in 1857. He was during the nineteenth century an admired stalwart of the British imperial project.
  • Who named it: The City and County of San Francisco, before there was a Sunnyside district.
  • When: 1882, by an act of the Board of Supervisors.
  • Note: The new name replaced Henry Street (Henry was Havelock’s first name), because there was another Henry Street elsewhere in the city. The street was originally named Henry in 1862, when the ‘homestead’ Belle Roche City was laid out there, an obscure and now completely forgotten district.  

Hearst Avenue (changed from Moulton Ave)

  • Hearst Street was named for: George Hearst (1820-1891), the massively wealthy San Francisco mining capitalist. Mining money was the engine that drove the city in the early years, but the environmental legacy left behind by Hearst and other ‘gold kings’ is worth considering.
  • Who named it: The City and County of San Francisco.
  • When: 1895, by an act of the Board of Supervisors.
  • Note: Name replaced Moulton Avenue. There was another street named Moulton elsewhere in the city, and the change was made to reduce confusion. There was also another street named Hearst, just south of Ocean Avenue, but in the same year that street was changed to Lakeview Avenue for the same reason.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here.  

Joost Avenue

  • Joost Avenue is named for: Behrend Joost (1842-1917) capitalist, President of Sunnyside Land Company and founder of the San Francisco and San Mateo Electric Railway, a pioneering project. Read more about Joost’s streetcar line here and Joost’s life here.
  • Who named it: Himself. For the president of the Sunnyside Land Company that laid out the district, picking the longest street to name after yourself was just the sort of thing Joost did.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Joost was from Hanover, Germany. German pronunciation of the name is more like ‘Yohst,’ but this is California and, like Baden Street, we tend to naturalize such things, so ‘Jewst’ is more conventional. 

Judson Avenue (changed from Wieland Ave)

  • Judson Avenue is named for: Egbert Putnam Judson (1812-1893) inventor, explosives chemical merchant, and dynamite company owner. He was a very well respected inventor and entrepreneur by the time the City re-named a street in his honor. California could not have been built as it was built without dynamite.
  • Who named it: The City and County of San Francisco.
  • When: 1909, by an act of the Board of Supervisors, in a massive realignment of street names and numbers.
  • Note: Name replaced Wieland Avenue in 1909, because there was a Wieland Street in Visitacion Valley, which was confusing.
  • Note: There is a ghost-town in California named after Judson as well.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here. 

Mangels Avenue

  • Mangels Avenue is named for: Claus Mangels (1832-1891), the longtime business partner of the more well-known Claus Spreckels. Read more about Mangels in this post about how brewery profits funded Sunnyside.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company, in particular John Henry Mangels (1865-1897) heir, wealthy capitalist, and Sunnyside Land Co investor, in honor of his more famous father.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Both Claus Mangels and Claus Spreckels were from Hanover, Germany, as was Behrend Joost.
  • Note: Mangels Avenue was left largely unbuilt from 1891 until the middle of the next century 

Marston Avenue (changed from Milton Ave)

  • Marston Avenue was named for: (*) Capt. Ward Marston, US Marines, best known for the Battle of Santa Clara, 1847, the only northern California skirmish in the Mexican-American War, which suppressed a rebellion by Californios.
  • Who named it: The City and County of San Francisco.
  • When: 1909, by an act of the Board of Supervisors, in a massive realignment of street names and numbers.
  • Note: Marston replaced the original name of the street, Milton, because there were three streets with the name Milton at that time, and it caused confusion.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here.

Melrose Avenue

  • Melrose Avenue in Sunnyside is related to Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, by way of the LA developer James P. McCarthy (1847-1924). After laying out the Melrose District in Los Angeles, complete with streetcar running down the middle, McCarthy came to San Francisco in 1890 to to repeat his success for a new district, Sunnyside. His partner M.W. Connor (1839-1910), also a LA real estate capitalist and general manager of Sunnyside Land Company, was very fond of the name ‘melrose’ and used it elsewhere as well.
  • Who named it: James P. McCarthy and/or M.W. Connor, both part of the initial corporate organization of Sunnyside Land Company.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: ‘Melrose’ is a mellifluous and rosy name that has been used for a great many streets, towns, and districts all over the USA. The name originally came from Melrose, Scotland, where the Scottish Gaelic ‘Maolros’ means ‘bald moor’.
  • Note: The McCarthy family was from Oswego, New York, on the Great Lakes (not Melrose, Massachusetts, as one source says). It is possible that their ancestors came Scotland. In any case, it is simply an appealing name. 

Milton Avenue (original name of Marston Ave)

  • Milton Avenue was named for: Unclear. There was no one named Milton in any account of the initial Sunnyside investors, nor even any major late 19th-century San Francisco capitalist with that name who might have invested in Sunnyside.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Changed in 1909 to Marston Avenue. There were already two other Milton Streets by then: one off San Jose Avenue, and another one in Ocean View. The one off San Jose is still extant.
  • Note: Milton, CA, says its name is from railroad capitalist Milton Latham, but this seems a stretch.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here.

Monterey Boulevard (changed from Sunnyside Ave)

  • Monterey Boulevard was named for: As with the great number of things named Monterey in California (the tree, the county, the city, the bay) the name reaches back to Monterrey, Mexico. The Californios who settled here before it was a US state brought the name, which in turn can be traced back to Monterrei, Spain by way of the conquistador Zúñiga y Acevedo, a nobleman from there.  From ‘mont-‘ (mountain) + ‘-rei’ (king).
  • Who named it: The City and County of San Francisco.
  • When: 1920. Three years after Sunnyside Avenue was extended through St Francis Wood and that portion named Monterey Boulevard, the Sunnyside portion was renamed Monterey to match.
  • Note: The developers responsible for the pricey and covenant-restricted residential parks to Sunnyside’s west did not wish their pretty work to be tainted by the working-class Sunnyside brand on their main thoroughfare. Reportedly, the residents of Sunnyside objected to the lose of their self-named street in 1920, but without success.
  • Note: Things named Monterey in California have always been spelt with one ‘r’, but until recently Gmail was utterly completely ignorant of this reality and would autocorrect to the Mexican double-r spelling.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here.

Moulton Avenue (original name of Hearst Ave)

  • Moulton Avenue was named for: Frank Fielding Moulton (1856-1920) capitalist, farmer, Sunnyside investor, and a director of Sunnyside Land Company in the first years.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company, in particular FF Moulton for himself or his ancestors. The name only lasted four years. Frank retired from the stresses of city life to a quiet San Mateo farm shortly after being part of the initial stock offering for Sunnyside.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Changed to Hearst Avenue in 1895, by the City.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here. 

Phelan Avenue (original name of Frida Kahlo Way)

  • Phelan Avenue was named by San Francisco mayor and politician James Duval Phelan (1861–1930), ostensibly in honor of his father, James Phelan (1819–1892).
  • Who named it: The City and County of San Francisco, in particular James D Phelan, who was mayor at the time of the dedication, so is it a safe assumption that he himself proposed the name. During his long political career, Phelan campaigned actively for Asian exclusion and discrimination, leaving a racist legacy. The name association gave rise to a campaign based at City College of San Francisco to change the name in mid-2010s.
  • When: 1900.
  • Note: In 1898, a narrow dirt road to connect Sunnyside to Ocean Avenue (along the western edge of the House of Refuge lot that became City College in 1935) had been put through with local volunteer labor, but the City did not widen and dedicate this street till 1900.
  • Note: In 2018 the name was changed to Frida Kahlo Way.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here.

Ridgewood Avenue (changed from Hamburg Street)

  • Ridgewood Avenue was named for: Nothing in particular. Another stateless, placeless, characterless, and anonymous name to add to the stable of ‘-wood’ streets of the Westwood residential park adjacent to Sunnyside, presumably to match the development’s woody-theme effect, which sort of made up for cutting down all the actual trees to build the houses.
  • Who named it: The City and County of San Francisco.
  • When: August 1927 by an act of the Board of Supervisors, at the recommendation of the Board of Public Works. Probably at the behest of the private developers of Westwood.
  • Note: Name replaced Hamburg Street, but not from directly war-related anti-German sentiment, given the date. Virulent anti-German feeling was not as strong in SF as in some cities–though Berlin Street in Portola was changed to Brussels in just after the First World War.
  • Note: At the time of changing the name, there was a Ridgewood, CA (now called Ridge), but it’s too much of a stretch to think they were naming it after anything in the real world.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here.

Spreckels Avenue (original name of Staples Ave)

  • Spreckels Avenue was named for: Either the famous ‘Sugar King’ Claus Spreckels (1828-1908)–or his son Claus Augustus “Gus” Spreckels (1858-1946) who was the actual investor in the Sunnyside Land Company. Since the two were notoriously estranged by then, it is difficult to imagine the son wished to honor the father. The Spreckels’ family money, some tiny fraction of which funded the Sunnyside property speculation project, came in part from brewery profits. 
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company, in particular, Claus Augustus “Gus” Spreckels (1858-1946).
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Family was from Hanover, Germany.
  • Note: Street changed to Staples Avenue in 1909, by the City, because there was also a Spreckels Street in Visitacion Valley, which  was confusing.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here. 

Staples Avenue (changed from Spreckels Avenue)

  • Staples Avenue is named for: Esteemed pioneer David Jackson Staples (1824-1900), head of Firemans Fund Insurance Company, and by reflection his equally admirable wife, Mary Winslow Staples (1830–1895), a philanthropist. Read more about the Staples’ in this post and also this post.
  • Who named it: The City and County of San Francisco.
  • When: 1909, by an act of the Board of Supervisors, in a massive realignment of street names and numbers.
  • Note: Family originally from Massachusetts.
  • Note: Name replaced Spreckels Avenue. in 1909.

Sunnyside Avenue (original name of Monterey Blvd)

  • Sunnyside Avenue was named for: The name of the Sunnyside district itself, appropriate for the main boulevard down the center, where the streetcar was planned to run. At the time of naming there were many things named ‘Sunnyside’: a famous California mine, a wayside inn on the south edge of Twin Peaks, and various neighborhoods in San Rafael, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and elsewhere. Sunnyside in SF was laid out on the south-facing slope of Mount Davidson–sunny, when it wasn’t fogbound. How could you go wrong with this name? Except that it sounded quite dated by the 1920s, when romantic/nostalgic names for residential parks like St Francis Wood became fashionable, along with their backward-looking faux-historical architecture.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company, in particular either the savvy developer James P McCarthy or the hapless Behrend Joost, so you can guess where I put my money.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Name was changed to Monterey Boulevard in 1920.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here.

Wieland Avenue (original name of Judson Ave)

  • Wieland Avenue was named for: The wealthy and successful San Francisco brewery owner, John H. Wieland (1829-1885). Wieland was from Württemberg, Germany (near Baden). His brewery, Philadelphia Brewery, was the top producer in the city for many years running.
  • Who named it: Sunnyside Land Company, in particular his son Robert P. Wieland (1861-1908), heir, brewery capitalist, and Sunnyside investor, for his father. Young Wieland inherited a fortune in brewery profits, which in part funded the Sunnyside property speculation project.
  • When: 1891, when Sunnyside was initially laid out.
  • Note: Changed to Judson Ave in 1909 by the City, because there was also a Wieland Street in Visitacion Valley, which was confusing.
  • Read more about this and other street name changes in Sunnyside here.

(*) These are my speculations based on my research, in which I’ve tried to the best of my ability to track the numerous people who were in on the initial share offering for the Sunnyside real estate speculation project, their interests and values.

Comments or questions? Write me.