Fly From Evil

Unfinished History


Old St. Mary's Church, northeast corner of Dupont (now Grant) looking east on California, 1865.

Photo: Shaping San Francisco

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Old St. Mary's Cathedral (this is an earlier incarnation than the present church)

Son, Observe the Time and Fly From Evil

Plaque on Old St. Mary's Cathedral at California and Grant; Photo: Chris Carlsson

St. Mary's Cathedral, California and Grant Streets. "Gosh, it's getting late! I'd better fly from evil!" If that thought has recently occurred to you, it may be that you have been subliminally influenced by the plaque beneath the clock on St. Mary's cathedral, San Francisco's oldest landmark.

Construction began on St. Mary's in 1853, and the weird "fly from evil" warning was affixed to the tower when the clock was completed in 1857. The church burned and was rebuilt twice, first in 1906, and again in 1969. Both times, the original building was faithfully reconstructed in painstaking detail. The cable car that runs along California Street here is nearly as old as the church, making this spot an ideal one to observe the time - the changes that Time has wrought upon the City since the heydays of both the cathedral and the streetcars. (Whether you want to fly from evil is another question; if you take the cable car, it'll probably catch you.)

--Dr. Weirde

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Old St. Mary's at California and Grant with a passing cable car, 2013.

Photo: Chris Carlsson

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