A Jail that Became a College

Unfinished History

Ccsf-entry-w-bufano 20200628 175835.jpg

Entryway to City College of San Francisco from recently renamed Frida Kahlo Way, 2020, with iconic Benny Bufano sculpture on stairway.

Photo: Chris Carlsson


213 Ocean Avenue, when it was the County Sheriff’s House of Correction Number Three between 1874 and 1935.

Photo: Western Neighborhoods Project

Yerba Buena and Monterey Jan 15, 1932 wnp4.1196.jpg

City College campus site in background, Jan. 15, 1932, looking south from Yerba Buena and Monterey.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp4.1196

Ingleside Jail 1920s now site of CCSF athletic fields wnp4.1207.jpg

Ingleside Jail, 1920s, later site of CCSF athletic fields.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp4.1207

Prison buses leaving jail, guard with rifle watching. Ingleside Jail closed 8 July 1934. Prisoners were transferred under heavy guard to new county jail at San Bruno. Judson hillside in right background wnp4.1206.jpg

Prison buses leaving jail under watch of armed guard, during Ingleside Jail closing, July 8, 1934.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp4.1206


Land being graded and prepared, then for Balboa Park, later City College of San Francisco. Previously the location of the the old Ingleside Jail closed 1934, now CCSF athletic fields. Looking north-easterly toward Havelock Street

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp26.1546

City College site circa 1935 wnp26.1548.jpg

Another view of WPA workers grading the site for City College of San Francisco in approximately 1934-35.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp26.1548


City College campus site, 2008.

Photo: Chris Carlsson

City College of San Francisco. During the 1980's and 1990's, California has been shutting down its colleges almost as fast as it has been building prisons. Since it costs over four times as much to send a kid to prison as it would to send him to college, the resulting loss of revenue has forced the state to also shut down hospitals, schools, parks, swimming pools, psychiatric facilities, and public transit systems. If the present trend continues, we may expect that Kurt Vonnegut's prediction in Hocus Pocus will come true, and most of the higher educational facilities in California will be converted to prisons. It's nice to remember a time when it worked the other way around: Back in 1934, the old Ingleside Jail was torn down to make way for City College. The jail had been a real hellhole: pairs of prisoners had been stuffed into cells 6 feet long, 4 feet 7 inches wide and 6 feet 6 inches high. Now, as annual budget cuts savage higher education in California, students are experiencing similar conditions of crowding.

—Dr. Weirde, 1994


City College campus, observatory standing in middle.

Photo: Chris Carlsson

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