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San Francisco

The Etymology Of NoPa's Street Names

Most street names have their own connotations for San Francisco residents. Oak Street is where that ex you don't want to see lives. Scott is where the record shop is that's only open on Saturdays. Page is a steep climb by bike up from Market. But rarely does anyone actually know where our street names came from (hint: mostly dead white guys). 


We're here to share some of our neighborhood's most interesting street name origins.  In no particular order, here are just a few of our neighborhood's etymological histories:

Haight Street was likely named after Henry Haight, a banker and pioneer who was noted in his obituary for "his affability, business capacity and unswerving integrity."  His nephew, also named Henry Haight, served as California Governor from 1868 - 1872. 

Broderick Street is an homage to David C. Broderick, an Irish immigrant who funded his political career in California with gold he mined himself. He served in the California State Senate before becoming a US Senator in 1857. He died participating in a pistol duel near Lake Merced. 

Baker Street references Edward Dickinson Baker, who was an English-born American politician, military leader, and lawyer. He was killed in the Battle of Ball's Bluff in 1861. 

Fulton Street is named for Robert Fulton, a designer of submarines and steam-driven warships in the late 1700s. He died of tuberculosis in New York in 1815, after falling ill rescuing a friend who fell through the ice on the Hudson River. 

Lyon Street is titled after Nathaniel Lyon, who is known for fighting against the Seminole Indians in Florida and in the Mexican American War. Despite being described as "slight of figure with a shabby appearance; his boots were often unpolished, his uniform was often faded, and his insignia were often tarnished"  he was an accomplished and respected general. He even returned to battle in the American Civil War after being shot in the head and the leg, before a shot to the heart finally killed him. 

Hayes Street is named for Thomas Hayes, a landowner who served as San Francisco County Clerk in the 1850s.  Hayes's friend James Van Ness was responsible for dividing up much of the land between Larkin and Divisadero during that period, and allotted Thomas the large chunk that would become known as Hayes Valley.    

So there you have it—a little insight behind some of the leaders that our neighborhood streets are named after. Know the histories behind any streets we didn't cover? 
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