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History in Motion

Neighborhood Throwback- Mission & 16th

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Take a trip back through time with this neighborhood throwback looking at one of the busiest intersections in the Mission District - Mission and 16th Streets.

Mission & 16th in 1905
A group of workers builds a new 14 Line crossover track on Mission Street south of 16th.

One of the earliest photos in the SFMTA Photo Archive from the vicinity of Mission & 16th is this 1905 shot, taken looking south between 16th and 17th Streets. While a number of small businesses occupy the ground floors of the buildings here, the corridor does not have many of the larger apartment blocks and commercial buildings that would come later.

Mission & 16th looking north in 1915
Mission and 16th Streets in January 1915, looking towards the crossing between the 22 Fillmore and 14 Mission streetcar lines.

Jumping ahead 10 years, here's a view looking north from 16th. At least one landmark building is visible- the large building at left, which houses the California Savings Bank today. At right is the Owl Drug Co.'s flagship store, a local drugstore business that grew into a national network of stores by the 1930s.

16th & Mission looking south in 1939
In the mid-1930s, the Market Street Railway Company rebuilt the 14 Mission streetcar tracks on Mission between 16th and 24th Streets.

Fast-forward 20 years and we have another view taken from 16th, this time looking south at some newly rebuilt street tracks and fresh pavement. By the time this photo was taken in 1936, the corridor had certainly grown into a major commercial zone. Some long-time San Franciscans may recognize the Lachman Brothers furniture store at frame left, which opened in August 1909 and remained a Mission street landmark for many decades.

Mission & 16th in 1949
Looking northeast on Mission and 16th in 1949, just after conversion of the 14 Mission to bus operation.

This 1949 photo shows a transitional period for service on the 14 Mission line. Earlier that year, streetcar service was replaced with the motor buses seen here, which were in turn replaced in 1952 with electric trolley buses. The old tracks and overhead power lines for the 14 streetcars are still visible. Note that the Owl Drug Co. is still in place on the northeast corner, albeit in a totally remodeled building.

Mission & 16th in 1978
A brand new Muni bus picks up passengers outside the 16th & Mission BART station in this 1978 photo.

Our final shot from 1978 may look a bit more familiar with the tall palm trees and brick paving of the 16th St BART plaza. Some Muni riders may also recognize the AM General coach pictured here (brand-new at the time), which wore Muni's beloved "Sunset" livery and sported the iconic "Worm" logo.

We hope this slice of life series has whet your appetite for local history. Check outmore of our historic transit photos at the SFMTA Photo Archive website and follow us on Instagram!