Tubbs Rope Walk

Historical Essay

based on Burrito Justice's blog post, which in turn is partly based on Wade Roush's earlier work.

Tubbs-cordage-shipment-for-Josselyn-and-Co 2090.jpg

These massive ropes were made at the Tubbs Cordage Company, which is visible as a small diagonal line on the first three historic maps here, south of Potrero Hill in today's Dogpatch neighborhood, along the shoreline.

Photo: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Museum

Tubbs & Co. Cordage Manufacturing, rope walk. -view of the Cordage Factory of Tubbs & Co., at the Potrero c 1895 Located at 22ns and Iowa.wnp26.288.jpg

Tubbs & Co. cordage manufacturing, rope walk, c. 1895 view at 22nd and Iowa.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp.26.288

The National Park Service gives a brief history of how the Tubbs Rope company got started:


Image: courtesy Burrito Justice


from the 1859 State Register and Year Book of Facts (of California), courtesy Burrito Justice

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Early image of the Tubbs rope walk, a 1,000-foot long building in which workers walked back and forth to assemble thick ropes for sailing ships in the 19th century.

Photo: Shaping San Francisco


Zooming in on the 1859 Coast Survey map (which was actually surveyed in 1857, the same time as the photo), you can see some of the same buildings, as well as the fences (marked in green on the map). The red is my estimate of the field of view — I’m guessing the photographer was standing around 25th and Connecticut, looking to the northeast. The rise is the lost Irish Hill (you can see the east bay hills in the very far distance). The powder magazine would be just to the right of this photo — in fact, that small building you see on the crest of the hill may be part of that complex.


Aerial shot in 2012 of the strangely angled buildings between Third and Tennessee in Dogpatch.

Photo: Burrito Justice

Dogpatch-3rd-st-slanted-facades-for-old-ropewalk 2280.jpg

These particular buildings were once adjacent to the Tubbs Cordage Company’s “rope walk” factory that was built in 1856 and lasted until 1963. Today, the Hells Angels’ clubhouse is behind these Third Street buildings on Tennessee.

Photo: Chris Carlsson

Dogpatch-old-tubbs-rope-walk-diagonol 2282.jpg

View from Tennessee Street of diagonal structures still standing in 2014 along the edge of what was once the Tubb's Rope Walk.

Photo: Chris Carlsson

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Hell's Angels clubhouse on Tennessee Street, sitting in the diagonal space once adjacent to the Tubb's Rope Walk.

Photos: Chris Carlsson


Superimposed 1915 Sanborn Map of Tubb's Cordage facilities over aerial photo.

Image: Burrito Justice


Here are the 1905 Sanborns, stitched and rotated to show the full length of the plant. IANARM, but apparently you needed an extremely long “rope walk” to make rope — at 1400′, it dodged under Kentucky/3rd Street and jutted into the Bay on piers.

Image: Burrito Justice


1938 aerial photo of the Tubbs Cordage works.

Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library, and David Rumsey

3rd near 24th 1921 30-line MSRY car 707. Kentucky Car House on the left. 3rd St was called Kentucky until 1909 wnp27.4776.jpg

3rd Street looking north, near 24th Street, 1921. The diagonal houses are visible in distance on left. Kentucky (street)Car House on left. Kentucky was the name of 3rd Street until 1909.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp27.4776

July 19 1940 Shell Gas Station at the corner of 3rd Street and 24th. Potrero Hill in the background. DPW A6451 wnp26.089.jpg

Shell Gas Station at corner of 3rd and 24th Streets, July 1940. Potrero Hill in distant background.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp26.089, dpw A6451