Golden Gate Valley

1801 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94123

The neighborhood around this branch was already the site of some of the city’s most stately homes by 1938. Visible on the scale model is the Haas-Lilienthal House (2007 Franklin St.), built in 1886 by William Haas, which remains the city’s only intact Victorian-era home open to the public as a museum. The octagonal McElroy house, built across the street from its current location (2645 Gough St.) in 1861, was saved from demolition in 1952 and is also a house museum today. The grand Spreckles Mansion, across from Lafayette Park, was built in 1912 by Adolph Spreckels, whose family business empire included sugar cane plantations in Hawaii and a sugar refinery outside Salinas; the French Baroque chateau was designed by George A. Applegarth, a graduate of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and is now the home of romance author Danielle Steel.

Not visible on the scale model are the dairy farms—removed by the Board of Health in the 1880s—that gave the neighborhood its Cow Hollow name. Also hidden is Washerwoman’s Lagoon, a natural spring lake in the area occupied by Lombard, Filbert, Gough, and Octavia Streets. The waterway had been used by both miners and Chinese immigrants through the late 1880s, when it was deemed a health hazard and filled with soil. Yet another historical feature missing from the model is the house illegally built in 1869 by Samuel Hollady atop Lafayette Park, and torn down in 1936. Undoubtedly, Holladay wanted to take advantage of the panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay that helped shape this into one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods.

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 6th, 2019: Let’s Build a City!

February 27th, 2019: Golden Gate Neighborhood History

March 6th, 2019: Reading the Model at Golden Gate