Glen Park

2825 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

Even as it gradually evolved into a residential neighborhood, Glen Park in 1938 still boasted a bucolic character. On the model, Victorians and bungalows sit at the base of a commanding hill and a maze of empty streets awaiting imminent development rise up the slope. Glen Canyon Park  had already undergone several transformations, from the site of a eucalyptus ranch in the mid-nineteenth century to a dynamite factory—leased out by Alfred Nobel in the late 1860s—where an explosion destroyed the entire facility, killing two workers. A real-estate development company then transformed the area into “Little Switzerland,” attracting homebuyers with recreational activities, such as picnics, dancing, and even a castle, into the 1920s. By the 1930s, the construction of O’Shaughnessy Boulevard and the widening of the Bernal Cut, a train track for the San Jose Railroad, connected Glen Park to the rest of the city.

Not visible on the model are the efforts of the “Gum Tree Ladies,” a group of women who led community opposition to the transformation of O’Shaughnessy Boulevard into a freeway in the 1970s. Also not yet apparent are the postwar updates that define the neighborhood today, from the midcentury modern homes dotting the hill to the small businesses that still make Glen Park feel like a small town in a big city.

Historical Photos

All photos courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Scale Model Installation Photos

All photos courtesy of Beth LaBerge.

Neighborhood Mixtape

Branch Events

February 21st, 2019: The Remarkable, Forgotten Histories of San Francisco’s Glen Park; a Suburban District in the Heart of San Francisco

March 13th, 2019: Reading the Model at Glen Park

March 21st, 2019: Decorate the Fridge