July 9, 2007
Window shopping on Grant Avenue in Chinatown

Grant Avenue: San Francisco's First Street
In 1835, former English sailor William Richardson staked a tent near where Clay Street and Grant Avenue meet. This was the first dwelling of what soon became the village of Yerba Buena (San Francisco’s original name). Richardson, seeing opportunities for trade with sailing ships that regularly called on San Francisco Bay, replaced his tent with an adobe house called Casa Grande, and others soon settled nearby.
Within a few years, residents had carved out a dirt street connecting the half dozen or so houses of Yerba Buena village and named it appropriately enough Calle de la Fundacion, or Foundation Street. After the Americans took control of California in 1846, the street was renamed Dupont in honor of the American admiral.
By the late 1800’s, the street had developed a dubious reputation for the proliferation of opium dens and brothels at the north end where Chinatown and the old Barbary Coast commingled. After the 1906 fire destroyed the area, The City, wishing to change its image, renamed the street Grant Avenue after the Civil War general and president. Some elderly Chinatown residents, hanging on to old habits, still call it Dupont Gai.
Notice the narrowness of Grant Avenue in Chinatown north of Bush Street. Grant Avenue from Bush to Market streets was widened to accommodate downtown businesses and shoppers, but in Chinatown it is still the original width laid out in 1839 by Swiss surveyor Jean-Jacques Vioget.
( WALKING SAN FRANCISCO ON THE BARBARY COAST TRAIL by Daniel Bacon Quicksilver Press 1997 )

“San Francisco is a city where people are never more abroad than when they are at home.” Benjamin F. Taylor




“To a traveler paying his first visit, San Francisco has the interest of a new planet. It ignores the meteorological laws which govern the rest of the world.” Friz Hugh Ludlow


Newsletters Index: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Photography Index  | Graphics Index | History Index

Home | Gallery | About Me | Links | Contact

© 2015 All rights reserved
The images are not in the public domain. They are the sole property of the artist and may not be reproduced on the Internet, sold, altered, enhanced, modified by artificial, digital or computer imaging or in any other form without the express written permission of the artist. Non-watermarked copies of photographs on this site can be purchased by contacting Ron.