Harrison Street from Dunes to Trains

Unfinished History

Listen to an audio description of 8th and Harrison and its environs, part of the "Bending Over Backwards" walking tour:

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voice: Patrick Simms

Next Stop on "Bending Over Backwards" tour

Harrison Street in the 19th century was an industrial neighborhood from one end to the other. One of the first factories was San Francisco's earliest sugar refinery built by George Gordon (also founder of South Park).


The "Hewes Steam Paddy Works" at left side of photo shows how the sand dunes that once dominated the South of Market were leveled, filling in the once ubiquitous fresh water ponds. 'Paddy' refers derogatorily to the Irish laborers who were replaced by the steam shovel. The building is Gordon's Sugar Works at 8th and Harrison.

Photo: Private Collection, San Francisco, CA

First and harrison 1865 AAB-5780.jpg

Looking north on First from Harrison atop Rincon Hill, 1865. Selby shot tower, where they made artillery shells (cannon balls) is at 1st and Howard Street. Old St. Mary's is visible on slopes of Nob Hill in distance, and Mt. Tam is in the distance.

Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

Harrison St 1865 AAB-4031.jpg

Harrison Street on Rincon Hill was lined with mansions in 1865. After the Second Street Cut went through a couple of years later, this area quickly sank economically when the wealthy moved to Nob Hill and elsewhere.

Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

Harrison-Street-Between-3rd-Street-and-4th-Street-Looking-East- October-20-1916 U05493.jpg

Harrison Street looking east at 3rd, Oct. 20, 1916.

Photo: SFMTA Photo Archive U05493

Harrison and 2nd 1928 AAB-4032.jpg

As late as 1928, Harrison didn't run through from the lower 2nd Street. This photo is looking west from 2nd on Harrison.

Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

View West on Harrison from Essex, A. Fleishhacker and Company, The Paper Box House, on left at 2nd & Harrison. Kids walking up the street--wnp36.02325.jpg

Westerly view on Harrison Street from Essex, c. 1920s.

Photo: courtesy OpenSFHistory.org, wnp36.02325

View East on Harrison from Essex. Pier 24 is visible in the distance. Oct 18 1915 wnp36.01016.jpg

Easterly view on Harrison from Essex, Oct. 18, 1915.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org, wnp36.01016

Harrison-Street-northeast-at-3rd-towards-Rincon-Hill-March-28-1933-SFDPW 72dpi.jpg

Harrison Street easterly at 3rd, looking towards Rincon Hill on March 28, 1933.

Photo: SFDPW, courtesy C. R. collection

Harrison near 2nd Oct 6, 1930--wnp36.03959.jpg

Harrison Street near 2nd Street, Oct. 6, 1930.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp36.03959

View North on Hawthorne from Harrison, Telephone Building at center--wnp36.03960.jpg

Northerly view on Hawthorne from Harrison, Pacific Telephone & Telegraph building on New Montgomery towers ahead, October 1930.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp36.03960

Harrison and 8th 1936 AAB-4042.jpg

Harrison at 8th Street in 1946. The old sugar works is long gone, and this area is part of a continuous industrial zone from about 3rd all the way into the Mission District, serviced by freight trains until the 1990s when the tracks were finally removed.

Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

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