Heritage's mission is to preserve and enhance San Francisco's unique architectural and cultural identity.

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New Policy Paper: “Sustaining San Francisco’s Living History”

Vital Quartiers (Craigfinlay on Flickr)

The report contains over 16 domestic and international case studies of potential models for San Francisco. This photo depicts The Abby Bookshop in Paris’ Latin Quarter and a participant in the City’s Vital’ Quartier program. Through the program, Paris’ planning agency purchases properties in 11 predefined areas and then leases them to local businesses to ensure their survival amidst exceedingly high real estate expenses. Photo credit: Craigfinlay on Flickr

In a new policy paper, San Francisco Heritage presents solutions to address the increasing displacement of the longtime institutions that contribute to the city’s cultural landscape. Defined by their contribution to society, knowledge, or culture, the city’s cultural heritage assets are often intangible and may include non-profit organizations, local businesses, events, and even people. The 52-page report, “Sustaining San Francisco’s Living History: Strategies for Conserving Cultural Heritage Assets,” presents incentive-based solutions to help protect cultural heritage assets, drawing from case studies of successful initiatives around the country and the world. It also highlights a number of existing conservation initiatives already going on in San Francisco. Despite the effectiveness of traditional historic preservation tools in conserving architectural resources, they are often ill-suited to address the challenges facing heritage businesses and other traditional uses. It is our hope that this report spurs new policy and programs, while creating a common language that can be used to further encourage productive discussion. For more information or to download a copy of the report, click “Learn More.”

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September 18: “The Magic City: Treasure Island’s Golden Gate International Exposition”

SF World's Fair, 1939 Poster

Courtesy of Tunnelbug/Flickr.

Join Heritage on September 18 for the third installment of our annual Lecture Series, “The Magic City: Treasure

Island’s Golden Gate International Exposition.”

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the 1939 World’s Fair, authors Anne Schnoebelen and Therese Poletti will discuss the history and cultural production of the “Pageant of the Pacific,” as well as its lasting influence in the Bay Area.

The event will take place at Pier 1 along the Embarcadero in the Bayside Conference Room. The lecture starts at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for Heritage members and students (with ID) and $15 for the general public. The lecture is co-presented by Heritage YP and sponsored by Perkins + Will.

Many thanks to our 2014 Lecture Series sponsors: California Office of Historic Preservation, Cody Anderson Wasney, Martin Building Co., Plant Construction, San Francisco Waterfront Partners, and TEF.


September 10: Creating a Vision for Historic Preservation in SF: Preservation Element Open House

The proposed Preservation Element will include a section on disaster planning.

The San Francisco Planning Department and San Francisco Heritage are introducing the draft Preservation Element – a comprehensive vision for San Francisco’s Historic Preservation program that helps the City to manage change in a manner that respects our past.
Join us for an open house at the Old Mint on Wednesday, September 10th from 6 – 7:30 p.m. to learn how historic preservation protects San Francisco’s unique cultural and architectural identity through all the stages of the City’s development. The open house is an opportunity to discuss preservation policy with Historic Preservation Commissioners, City planners, and local advocates, and for you to offer input on the draft document. Attendees will also have the chance to explore the Old Mint, a National Historic Landmark, with a docent-led tour of the vaults available.
What is a Preservation Element?
The City’s land use decisions are guided by our General Plan. The plan is composed of Elements – sets of policies aimed at specific areas of concern, such as protecting open space, promoting community safety, supporting the arts, or maintaining air quality. Currently, there is no Element that specifically addresses the protection of historic and cultural resources. The Planning Department, with SF Heritage’s support, is now working to complete the City’s first Preservation Element. This document represents 25 years of government and citizen efforts.

The Element will guide:

  • Identification and protection of historic and cultural resources;
  • Design for historic buildings and landscapes;
  • Financial and educational preservation tools; and
  • Recognition of the businesses, institutions, and traditions that reflect our heritage.


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August 21: “Reel San Francisco Stories”

Roxie Theater

Photo courtesy of the Roxie.

Join Heritage on August 21 for the second installment of our 2014 Lecture Series, “Reel San Francisco Stories: On-Location Movies and the Preservation Movement.”

We’ll explore the surprising ways in which beloved San Francisco movies have helped define the city’s cultural identity. Through a broad spectrum of film genres, author Christopher Pollock will examine the unexpected role of on-location movies in recording and conserving historic places throughout the city, including American GraffitiVertigo, and Sister Act.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Roxie Theater, San Francisco’s oldest continuously operating cinema. The Roxie is located at 3117 16th Street in the Mission District. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the lecture will begin at 6:00. Tickets are $10 for Heritage members and students (with ID) and $15 for the general public.

Many thanks to our 2014 Lecture Series sponsors: California Office of Historic Preservation, Cody Anderson Wasney, Martin Building Co., Plant Construction, San Francisco Waterfront Partners, and TEF.


“Nuestra Historia” Workshop: Family Legacies (August 9)


 Nuestra Historia family legacy Photo courtesy of El Tecolote Photographic Archive.

Join Heritage and the San Francisco Latino Historical Society for the second community gathering of the Nuestra Historia project, an effort document the Latino/a experience in San Francisco. At this special gathering, we will investigate the role of family in the greater Latino experience in San Francisco: What commonalities will arise and where will our experiences differ? To kick off our conversation, we’ll hear from special guest speakers, John Trasvina and Catherine Herrera, both members of long-time Latino families in San Francisco.

All are invited to share their own family histories:

Where is your family from?

When did you or your family come to San Francisco and why?

How did your family make a living?

Where did your family go to recreate & relax? Where was the pachanga? 

Finally, hear the latest updates on Nuestra Historia from the project team, and learn about how to get more involved with this community initiative. We need you to help document nuestras historias!

Nuestra Historia: Documenting the Chicana, Latino, and Indígena Contributions to the Development of San Francisco aims to build public awareness for the diverse and little-known history of Latinos in San Francisco, identify significant historic and cultural places for conservation, and offer recommendations for preserving this longstanding legacy. This community-based participatory project will result in a historic context statement document that will help city planners and elected officials make better-informed decisions regarding the protection and stewardship of cultural resources significant to San Francisco’s Latino community.

Nuestra Historia is a project of the San Francisco Latino Historical Society and San Francisco Heritage, made possible with funding from the City of San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Fund.

The event workshop will be held on Saturday, August 9 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Mission Neighborhood Centers (362 Capp Street). To RSVP, email Marilyn Duran or visit our Facebook event page.


Toasting 100 “Legacy Bars & Restaurants”

McCarthy bar shot (Cha3)

Courtesy of Cha Cha Cha/Original McCarthy’s.

On Monday, June 2 at the Mission District’s Cha Cha Cha/Original McCarthy’s, Heritage proudly unveiled the final “official” round of inductees into our “Legacy Bars & Restaurants” initiative!

A first-of-its-kind interactive online guide, “Legacy Bars & Restaurants” debuted in January 2013 to honor and promote those establishments that reflect the history and culture of San Francisco. The announcement brought the total number of certified Legacy establishments to 100.

The newest honorees are: Bimbo’s 365 Club (1931); Bus Stop Bar (1900); Café Du Nord (1908); Casa Sanchez/Ayutla Restaurant (1924); Cha Cha Cha/Original McCarthy’s (1933); The Doctor’s Lounge (1951); Elbo Room (1935); The Fly Trap (1883); Gold Mirror Restaurant (1969); Ha-Ra Club (1947); Horseshoe Tavern (1934); Henry’s Hunan Restaurant (1974); Hi Dive (1916); La Rocca’s Corner (1930s); Le Central (1974); Mauna Loa (1939); Mr. Bing’s (1967); Northstar Café (1882); The Ramp (1950); Red’s Place (1960); Roosevelt Tamale Parlor (1919); Sabella & La Torre (1927); Silver Crest Donut Shop (1970); Tony Nik’s (1933); and Top of the Mark (1939).

Legacy-map-previewIn addition to recognizing the most recent inductees, Heritage proudly introduced a new printed pocket guide to all 100 “Legacy Bars & Restaurants”! Featuring vibrant photography, the foldout map will be available to the public for free at participating Legacy establishments.

The June 2 happy hour was co-presented by our friends at Heritage YP. Thank you to our hosts, Cha Cha Cha/Original McCarthy’s, for their warm hospitality and to Cyrus Noble for its generous support of “Legacy Bars & Restaurants”! For more information about the Legacy project, please click here or contact Laura Dominguez.

Read about Legacy and the worldwide movement to recognize places with social significance in the Guardian.

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