If you happen to’ve ever visited distant elements of England, you’ll have come throughout outdated footpaths marked “church method” or “corpse road,” as soon as utilized by pallbearers to carry the useless to church cemeteries for burial. These pathways turned magnets for superstition and tales of ghosts and ghouls. San Francisco might not have the identical traditions, however a lot of our most heavily-used streets had been as soon as used to convey the useless to cemeteries all through the town. A few of them had been improved particularly to make it simpler to get to San Francisco’s graveyards.
In medieval instances, English pastors established footpaths completely for the aim of carrying the useless to the graveyards connected to their church buildings. This served two functions: it saved the useless throughout the church group, and raised cash, by burial charges, for the church buildings. However corpse roads didn’t all the time result in the closest church; you would possibly attend one a number of miles from dwelling. These had been lengthy, exhausting journeys for the pallbearers, who walked for hours or days throughout tough terrain to put their family members to relaxation.
Earlier this 12 months, I attended a web-based speak by British writer SJ Farrer on corpse roads. Medieval Brits took care to maintain the spirits of the useless from utilizing these roads to return dwelling, she says. They swept these footpaths frequently to take away spirit energies, and lots of lych methods crossed creeks and rivers, as a result of folks believed that spirits couldn’t cross operating water. I couldn’t assist questioning which paths San Francisco’s European settlers — a lot of whom got here from England and Eire — may need used to carry their useless to native cemeteries.
Between 1776 and 1901, San Francisco was dwelling to about 30 small and large cemeteries, most of which have since been dug up and moved to Colma. First, I wanted to determine the place these burial grounds had been positioned. Then I wanted to find out what roads, if any, had been there to convey mourners to the graveyards. Then I wanted to map out studies of hauntings in San Francisco to see if there was any correlation. I discovered many.
That is not at all an exhaustive listing of former cemeteries, corpse roads, or hauntings. If nothing else, whereas doing this analysis I discovered that San Francisco is a really haunted place.
1. Dolores, Mission and Valencia streets
When the Spanish Franciscans established Misión San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores) in 1776, there have been zero roads on this a part of San Francisco. However they did create some extensive dust paths, together with one which ran in entrance of the Mission church and cemetery, which might be nonetheless there at present. That path later turned Dolores Avenue, though Dolores Avenue is far straighter than the winding path that after served this space. And, when it got here time to make Dolores Street one uniform width, in 1889, a portion of the cemetery that prolonged past the jap line of the church constructing was lopped off and the graves moved, many to Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.
As soon as the Gold Rush introduced extra folks to San Francisco, the Mission Dolores space turned a vacation spot for leisure and nightlife. In 1850, entrepreneur Col. Charles Wilson proposed constructing a plank street from downtown to the Mission, roughly where Mission street is now. He advised leaders that he would pay for the development, so long as he might cost tolls on it. The town, which didn’t have any cash on the time, agreed. Crews needed to lower by an enormous sand dune the place Third Avenue is at present, and construct a bridge over the deep lavatory the place Seventh Avenue is at present, however the plank street was finally a hit and have become the principle technique to get to the Mission space.
Valencia Avenue later turned a significant thoroughfare for funeral processions. A number of mortuaries dotted the road, the place coffins had been loaded onto streetcars and ferried south to Colma for burial. And, within the late 1800s, Dolores Avenue later introduced mourners to 2 Jewish Cemeteries positioned the place Dolores Park is at present.
The Mission Dolores Cemetery: The cemetery itself reportedly hosts quite a few uneasy ghosts. Even a metropolis police officer thought so, in accordance with an 1891 article within the San Francisco Morning Call.
Notre Dame Senior Plaza: Personal sources have advised me that this constructing, positioned throughout Dolores Avenue from the Mission Dolores cemetery, is haunted.
The Chapel: This nightclub on Valencia Avenue, a former mortuary, is home to one or more ghosts, together with a younger woman, in accordance with Chapel workers.
The Chronicle constructing: Situated on Mission at Fifth. Longtime Chron reporter Peter Hartlaub swears that the newspaper’s archives are haunted.
2. Sansome and Montgomery streets
Mission Dolores was a wonderful place to be buried in case you had been Catholic, however what in case you weren’t? An unofficial Sailor’s Burying Floor was established in 1825, within the space bounded at present by Sansome, Vallejo, Battery and Broadway. It was proper on the waterfront again then, and it turned a spot to bury sailors who died aboard ships headed for San Francisco. Locals generally known as it the Sansome Avenue Cemetery, which is a robust indication of which street you’d use to get there.
However there’s a catch: Components of Sansome had been underwater on the time the Sailor’s Burying Floor was lively. It’s doable folks touring by land would have used Montgomery Avenue. There have been two different unofficial cemeteries alongside Montgomery: one bounded by Montgomery, Pine, Sansome and Bush streets, and the opposite by Montgomery, Leidesdorff and Pine.
The Palace Resort, on the nook of two corpse roads — Market and Montgomery — is allegedly haunted by the ghost of President Warren Harding, who died there in 1923.
3. Powell Avenue
San Francisco’s first semi-official cemetery was positioned in North Seashore, bounded by at present’s Powell, Greenwich, Stockton and Filbert streets. The North Seashore Cemetery, generally known as the Powell Avenue Cemetery, noticed its first burials within the 1840s, when this land was far faraway from metropolis life. However by 1850, it was full and falling into damage. San Francisco opened Yerba Buena Cemetery, positioned the place Civic Heart is at present, in 1850, and employed a contractor to maneuver the North Seashore burials to Yerba Buena. The work was shoddily done — folks’s stays had been piled on the street, then tossed into carts for removing — and left unfinished. Native businessman (and later alderman) Henry Mieggs paid for the removing work to be accomplished, and for Powell Avenue to be prolonged past the cemetery web site.
St. Francis Resort: This world-famous lodge on Union Sq. is alleged to be haunted by the ghost of singer Al Jolson, who died right here throughout a poker sport. Fatty Arbuckle generally joins him.
4. Market Avenue
By the point Yerba Buena Cemetery opened in 1850, on 11 acres between Market, Larkin and McAllister streets, Market Avenue had turn into a kind of accessible roadway by the sand dunes and creeks. Larkin was the western metropolis restrict on the time, and metropolis planners thought this space can be a good spot for a remote cemetery for at least 50 years. It was full inside 10. Locals might have come from many instructions to carry their family members to Yerba Buena for burial, however Market Avenue was one of many higher choices.
The Flood Constructing: is allegedly haunted by the ghosts of people that died in a fireplace in 1898, when a lodge stood on this web site.
The Warfield: This vaudeville theater turned music venue is filled with ghosts. The Haunted Bay and Alameda Paranormal Researchers investigated the location extensively, and you’ll watch their episodes on the Warfield here, here and here.
The Market Avenue Cinema: The ghosts of a dead janitor and an unidentified woman are allegedly frequently noticed by guests to this former movie show.
Metropolis Corridor: Though it’s a block away from the western fringe of the previous Yerba Buena Cemetery, there are quite a few non-public studies of ghosts flitting round within the constructing, notably at night time.
5. Pacific Avenue and Bush Avenue
In 1854, the town opened Lone Mountain Cemetery on 170 acres of land on and round Lone Mountain. At first, the easiest way to get on the market was alongside Pacific Avenue (now Pacific Avenue), although this was not a straightforward journey. “The current mode of entry to the cemetery is by a circuitous route, almost 4 miles in size, by way of Pacific street and the presidio.” However by late 1854, with assist from the cemetery, Bush Avenue opened from downtown to the gates of the burial floor, which established a major entrance at Bush Avenue and Cemetery Avenue (now Presidio Avenue).
The Resort Emblem (previously the Resort Rex): This lodge’s entrance is on Sutter Avenue, however the block it’s on touches Bush Avenue as effectively. A number of visitors have reported seeing a ghost who roams the halls.
The Queen Anne Resort: Additionally on Sutter, however touching Bush, this lodge is allegedly haunted by the ghost of Miss Mary Lake, the pinnacle of a woman’s faculty that operated right here within the Nineties. Her former workplace is now Room 410.
The Sutter Constructing: This medical workplace constructing at 450 Sutter Avenue, touching Bush, is seemingly dwelling to shadowy black figures that frequently terrorize safety personnel at night time.
6. Presidio Avenue, Masonic Avenue and Turk Boulevard
In its early days, Presidio Avenue was known as Cemetery Avenue as a result of it supplied a major path to get to the cemeteries on Lone Mountain, together with Laurel Hill and Calvary cemeteries. Masonic Avenue bought its title from the Masonic Cemetery, simply south of Lone Mountain, though the cemetery had an entrance on Turk Avenue. Turk Avenue would have additionally gotten you to the Odd Fellows and Greco Russian Cemeteries positioned on this large cluster of burial grounds.
The Whittier Mansion: The previous dwelling of William Franklin Whittier is positioned on Jackson Avenue, on a block that touches Presidio Avenue. Shadowy figures allegedly hang-out the basement “with hot and cold running chills.”
Nice Star Theater: Chinatown’s famed cinema and theater, on Jackson Avenue touching Pacific, is reportedly dwelling to a minimum of one ghost. The Haunted Bay and Alameda Paranormal Researchers name it one of the most haunted places in the Bay Area.
7. Geary Boulevard
San Francisco established City Cemetery, additionally known as Golden Gate Cemetery, on the far reaches of the town in 1868. It was bounded by thirty third and forty eighth Avenues, the Pacific Ocean to the north and the Level Lobos Toll Highway, now Geary Boulevard, to the south. The toll street ran from Kearny and Clay streets all the way in which to the Cliff Home, and provided one other technique to get to the Lone Mountain cemeteries for folk who had sufficient cash to bury their family members there. Metropolis Cemetery was largely for poor and immigrant residents who couldn’t afford a stately tomb or statue to mark their resting place on Lone Mountain. Because the outer Richmond District expanded, the southernmost a part of Metropolis Cemetery was eliminated in order that Clement Avenue may very well be prolonged to Land’s Finish.
The Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum: Situated proper in the course of the outdated Metropolis Cemetery, it’s reportedly haunted. That’s comprehensible, contemplating that many early San Franciscans are nonetheless buried beneath and close by.
The San Francisco Columbarium: The Odd Fellows constructed this attractive mausoleum on their cemetery plot, positioned on the western slope of Lone Mountain. A visitor reported that an unseen hand gripped theirs, leaving a mark.
Curran Theater: The ghost of a ticket-booth employee who was murdered on this Geary Avenue theater allegedly still hangs around and generally seems within the foyer mirror.
8. San Jose Avenue and the Caltrain tracks
As soon as Colma was established as San Francisco’s necropolis — the principle place for locals to bury their useless — a fleet of somberly painted streetcars was established to hold coffins to their last locations. A few of these ran down Valencia Avenue previous the mortuaries; others followed today’s Mission-14 bus line, alongside Mission Avenue. On the south finish of the Mission District, they’d have run alongside the railroad tracks now within the heart of San Jose Avenue by the Bernal Lower, loosely following at present’s San Jose Avenue southward to Colma.
One other railway carried the useless south alongside the Southern Pacific tracks, with a spur that ran by a nook of San Bruno Mountain. You can still see one facet of this railway tunnel the place Cal-Ceremony Companies is at present, sealed shut and coated in graffiti. It’s probably the place Tunnel Avenue, which runs parallel to the tracks now utilized by Caltrain, bought its title.
None on document, to date.
9. The Presidio:
A number of present and former cemeteries are positioned within the Presidio, together with the San Francisco Nationwide Cemetery, which is closed to new interments however nonetheless accepts beforehand organized burials of army veterans and their households, an early Spanish-Mexican Cemetery positioned the place the Most important Submit is at present, a Pet Cemetery and a cemetery for individuals who died on the Marine Hospital out on Wedemeyer Avenue.