Streetwise: Fill Er Up Across San Francisco

by Frank Dunnigan

San Francisco once had many more full-service gas stations than there are today. Over the years, the increasing value of the land has prompted many owners to sell their stations for the eventual construction of apartments and condominiums, often with ground-floor commercial spaces that serve retailers, restaurants, and medical offices. Other replacements have included government offices, educational facilities, and other uses. Read on for some of these changed locations.

 

Geary Boulevard at Presidio Avenue, March 11, 1950.Geary Boulevard at Presidio Avenue, March 11, 1950. (wnp14.11960; courtesy of a Private Collector)

GEARY BOULEVARD & PRESIDIO AVENUE – A three-story building with 15 residential units and a Presidio Avenue address was built in the late 1970s as a replacement for this Associated station across the street from the Muni maintenance facility at Geary Boulevard and Presidio Avenue.

 

Sanchez & Market Streets, October 1970.View east on Sanchez and Market Streets, October 1970. (wnp25.2492; courtesy of a Private Collector)

SANCHEZ & MARKET STREETS – The Phillips 66 station at left was demolished prior to 2007 for a five-story residential building with ground-floor commercial space that was under construction in 2015, with new apartments available by 2017. The Mobil Station at right became a Union 76 station by early 2012, but by 2014 was demolished and an angular five-story residential building was under construction, opening by 2015.

 

Baker and Fell Streets, December 1927.Southeast corner of Baker and Fell Streets, December 1927. (wnp4.1895; photo by Christopher Helin / Courtesy of a Private Collector)

BAKER & FELL STREETS – A whimsical holiday display in 1927 livened up the gas station located at Baker and Fell streets — now the site of the San Francisco branch office of the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles.

 

Post & Webster Streets, 1951.Northwest corner of Post and Webster Streets, 1951. (wnp58.149; SF Assessors Office Negatives / WNP Collection)

POST & WEBSTER STREETS – This Mobil station was demolished as part of the Western Addition’s redevelopment in the 1960s, and was replaced by buildings that are part of today’s Japantown Center.

 

Masonic and Turk Streets, 1951.Northeast corner of Masonic and Turk Streets, 1951. (wnp58.165; SF Assessors Office Negatives / WNP Collection)

MASONIC AVENUE & TURK BOULEVARD – This Associated station was replaced by the Irwin Memorial Blood Bank (later Blood Centers of the Pacific) in the mid-1950s, shortly after this photo was taken. The blood center relocated in recent years to a site closer to UCSF, and the neighboring University of San Francisco (USF) recently announced its acquisition of this site, along with plans to remodel the blood bank structure for offices and labs for its School of Nursing. This corner now represents the easternmost point of USF’s hilltop campus.

 

26th Street & South Van Ness, July 11, 1938.View southwest at 26th Street and South Van Ness, July 11, 1938. (wnp4.1952; photo by Horace Chaffee, SF Department of Public Works / Courtesy of a Private Collector)

26th STREET & SOUTH VAN NESS AVENUE – This Signal station has been replaced over the years by a number of residential and small business units in the foreground, with a reduced-size gas station at the rear of the property facing Cesar Chavez (formerly Army) Street at the far left in this image.

 

Pacific Street & Embarcadero, 1951.Pacific Street & Embarcadero, 1951. (wnp58.036; SF Assessors Office Negatives / WNP Collection)

PACIFIC STREET & THE EMBARCADERO – This Texaco station, located at 2 Pacific Street, was demolished, as this section of Pacific Street no longer exists. It was replaced before the turn of the millennium by a low-rise, brick-clad residential condominium and office development known as North Park, adjacent to the 1967-era Golden Gateway Center.

 

Mission & Avalon Streets, 1951.Southeast corner of Mission and Avalon Streets, 1951. (wnp58.194; SF Assessors Office Negatives / WNP Collection)

MISSION STREET & AVALON AVENUE – Since 1979, this corner property has been occupied by a four-story building known as 12 Avalon Avenue/4377 Mission Street, a mixed-use structure with commercial space on the ground floor and housing on the upper floors.

 

Market and 17th Streets, February 9, 1917.View west at Market and 17th Streets, February 9, 1917. (wnp36.01469; photo by Horace Chaffee, SF Department of Public Works / Courtesy of a Private Collector)

MARKET, CASTRO & 17th STREETS – The east portal of the Twin Peaks Tunnel remains under construction in this 1917 image featuring the Omen Oil Company station at bottom center. Prior to World War II, the site became a Standard Oil station, which was rebranded as Chevron in the 1980s and remains so today. Only a single station, on Van Ness and Pine, retains the Standard name in California.

 

Buchanan near Bay Streets, 1951.Buchanan near Bay Streets, 1951. (wnp58.042; SF Assessors Office Negatives / WNP Collection)

BUCHANAN & BAY STREETS – The Shell gas station at left is gone, replaced with residential units above ground-floor business space. The small building shown here and the house behind it are still in place at 3623 Buchanan Street.