Our Projects

Activities of the Glen Park Neighborhood History Project (GPNHP) support our primary goals, namely to rediscover our forgotten histories, document our living histories, and share our histories with others. 

 
 
Projects
Place-the-Plaque for California Historical Landmark No. 1002 in
Glen Canyon Park

Did you know there is an important connection between Glen Canyon and the esteemed Nobel Prizes? Or, that Glen Canyon is designated as a California State Historical Landmark? The inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel, personally licensed the very first dynamite factory in the United States to San Francisco resident Julius Bandmann, who soon after incorporated Giant Powder Co. in 1867. Bandmann leased land from Rancho San Miguel owner L. L. Robinson in what was then known as Rock Canyon or Rock Gulch, at that time a remote locations in the Outside Lands, miles from the City's center. Manufacturing began in 1868 but ended suddenly when the factory suddenly exploded in 1869, forcing a move to an even more remote location. Because of his innovation, Alfred Nobel would become enormously wealthy over the following decades. As he had no heirs upon his death in 1896, his wealth would be used to fund the most prestigious award in the world, the Nobel Prizes. Read more about California Historical Landmark No. 1002 here.

 

But where’s the plaque in Glen Canyon? Local historian and community activist, the late Ms. Jean Kortum, received all of the permissions needed from the City in the early 1990s to establish the state historical landmark at the former site of the Giant Powder Company, approximately where the Glen Park Recreation Center is located today. Yet, no funds were earmarked for purchasing and erecting the plaque at that time. Evelyn Rose, Project Director of the GPNHP, first reported the situation in an article in the Glen Park News in early 2008. You can read the article here. An update was provided in the Summer 2017 issue of the Glen Park News, pg 5. 

 

Read more about Glen Park's link to Alfred Nobel and the Giant Powder Company.

 

After nearly a quarter century of dormancy, as well as to honor Ms. Kortum, the GPNHP is going to make every attempt to accomplish final placement of the plaque. We are working with San Francisco Parks and Recreation on a possible placement in the newly renovated Glen Canyon Recreation Center upon its completion in 2017.

 

This project is complete! The plaque for California Historical Landmark No. 1002 was dedicated on April 21, 2018! Learn more!

 
Premier: Oral History of Glen Park's Gum Tree Girls 

Glen Park has a long history of civic activism. While residents newly settled after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake fought to bring basic city services to the new residential district, 60 years later the Gum Tree Girls battled to keep the city from tearing Glen Park apart in what would be known as the Freeway Revolt.

 

Three Glen Park housewives - Zoanne Nordstrom, Joan Seiwald, and the late Geri Arkush - took matters into their own hands when, in 1965, Zoanne happened upon an engineer drilling a hole in the middle of Alms Road (now called the Gum Tree Girls Trail) in Glen Canyon. When she asked him what he was doing, he responded, "I’m digging test bores for the freeway that is going to run through here." Zoanne's response: "The hell it is!" So began the unrelenting effort over the next five years by these three women to stop the roadway from destroying the sylvan beauty of the neighborhood.

In the summer of 2016, Sunyside historian Amy O'Hair and Glen Park historian Evelyn spent several hours with Zoanne and Joan to complete an audiovisual recording of their experiences during the Freeway Revolt. We anticipate the premiering their oral histories in Spring 2017.  

Premier completed in August 2017!

10th Anniversary, Glen Park Branch Library

Glen Park first had local access to the San Francisco Public Library in 1908. Initially called "Delivery Station F," it was located in Mary Bridget Mullally Hamilton's dry goods store at 2975 Diamond Street (the site of today's Glen Park BART station), thanks to the efforts of President Ada Frances Parker Stillings and the ladies of the Glen Park Outdoor Art League. 

While the branch was forced to relocate several times over the next century, it finally found a permanent home at 2825 Diamond between Bosworth and Wilder Streets in late 2007. Join us as we partner with the librarians and staff of the Glen Park Branch of the San Francisco Public Library to celebrate their 10th Anniversary!

Read the complete history of the Glen Park Branch of the San Francisco Public Library, prepared by the GPNHP!

The 10th Anniversary will be celebrated in June 2018!

 
 
Call for Stories, Oral Histories, Pictures, Scrapbooks

 

Documenting and preserving our remembered and rediscovered stories of life in Glen Park, Sunnyside, the Fairnount Tract, and Diamond Heights is an important task, not only for our benefit but also for the future generations who will someday reside in our neighborhoods. That's why the GPNHP is dedicated to finding and organizing these priceless resources.

 

Are you, or do you know, a long-term resident who may have pictures, letters, or scrapbooks tucked away in boxes? Perhaps you've heard stories of how things once were on your block, where the local corner market once stood, or what it was like to have trolleys and trains running through the neighborhoods. The GPNHP will work with you to help preserve these items and make them accessible to all. 

 

Contact us to let us know know about a story, share a picture, or volunteer to help! 

 

Want to learn more about recording oral histories? The GPNHP Oral History Tool Kit, developed by our Vice-Chair and Sunnyside Resident Historian Amy O'Hair, with resources and training provided by the California Conference of Historical Societies, can help you plan your own. 

 

As of early 2018, this project is ongoing.

The Glen Park Greenway Project

 

Another important gateway about to undergo a makeover is the Glen Park Greenway running parallel to Bosworth between Brompton and Burnside. As part of the Glen Park Communit Plan, the Glen Park Association was recently awarded a grant of $40,000 to initiate a concept plan that will be a large step in the realization of the Creek to Peaks Trail from Glen Park to Twin Peaks.

 

The Glen Park Neighborhood History Project will be partnering with the Glen Park Association and the Glen Park Greenway Project to research the history of this parcel that runs directly over Islais Creek. It is the oldest area surveyed in Glen Park, formerly part of the "milch-ranch" run by George Ulshofer as early as the 1860s. The parcel itself was also impacted by the various freeway revolts that assaulted Glen Park in the late 1950s through the 1960s. 

 

As of 2016, this project is complete.

 
 
Historic Images of Diamond Heights, Supporting the Diamond Heights Boulevard Median Project
 

As gateways to our communities, street medians not only help provide initial impressions of the character of our neighborhoods, but also our passion for maintaining them. Sadly, many of our medians have lacked care and oversight, leading to dead and dying foliage and an overgrowth of weeds.  

 

The median along Diamond Heights Boulevard between Duncan Street and Berkeley Way, about 0.6 miles in length, has been languishing for years. That's why some Diamond Heights residents applied for and won the 2015 Community Challenge Grant from the City of San Francisco! These funds will be used to remove existing foliage, remediate soil, design a new landscape, and plant drought-resistant plants. You can read more about the project at Diamond Heights Blvd. Median Project.

 

To help promote the project, the Glen Park Neighborhood History Project will be partnering with the Diamond Heights Blvd. Median Project to historic images of the Diamond Heights area before and during construction of this massive redevelopment project.

 

As of late 2015, this project is complete.

 
Digitizing Vintage Issues: Glen Park News, Glen Park Perspective

 

​Recent issues of the Glen Park News from Winter 2008/2009 to present are posted at the Glen Park Association website. Yet, except for a few issues on file at the Glen Park Branch of the San Francisco Public Library, the Glen Park News and its predecessors, the Glen Park Perspective and the Glen Park Newspaper (dating back to 1978) had been tucked away in storage for safe keeping, out of the public domain for decades.

 

In cooperation with the Glen Park Association, the GPNHP is working to digitize vintage issues of the Glen Park newspaper collection. This is part of a city-wide effort spearheaded by ShapingSF.org to make vintage issues of San Francisco’s neighborhood newspaper collections accessible once again at Archive.org.

 

Access our vintage newspapers! Volunteer to help GPNHP and ShapingSF.org complete this important citywide project! Read our announcement!

 

As of early 2015, this project is complete.

 
History of House Moving in San Francisco

 

In 2014, the GPNHP was contacted by Diane Donovan, author of an upcoming book from Arcadia Publishing about the 150-year history of moving houses and other structures in San Francisco. Her book, San Francisco Relocated, is scheduled for publication in the Fall of 2015. Ms. Donovan has discovered instances throughout the City in which structures ranging from earthquake shacks to giant mansions were picked up and moved, sometimes at the preference of the owner or, in more recent decades, because of the widening of a thoroughfare or construction of a new highway. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were repeated threats of a major freeway being constructed through Glen Canyon, tunneling under Twin Peaks, and emerging at Golden Gate Park on its way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Fortunately, the threats were quashed by our own neighborhood grassroots activism.

 

We’ve identified at least four homes in our own neighborhoods as having moved to their current location following construction at another site. However, the GPNHP would like to continue the search for these stories. Know of a structure that moved at some point to its current location in Glen Park, Sunnyside, Fairmount Tract, or Diamond Heights? Let us know!  

 

Search the history of your home! Share your home’s story! Read our announcement!

 

As of May 2015, this project is complete. The book, San Francisco Relocated, was published in October 2015.

Subscribe for Updates

© 2015 - 2019. The Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project is fiscally sponsored

by Independent Arts & Media, a California non-profit corporation.