West Portal Marks 100th Anniversary

At West Portal station. | Photo: Flickr/torbakhopper
By Will Carruthers - Published on September 22, 2017.

This Saturday, the West Portal Merchants Association celebrates the 100th anniversary of the neighborhood. 

The event is also a celebration of all of the developments spurred by the start of streetcar service through the Twin Peaks Tunnel, beginning in early 1918, said Michelle Eichelberger, owner of Pawber Shop and a West Portal Merchants Association board member since 2014.

Although there were scattered developments before the tunnel opened, streetcar service allowed real estate developers to advertise the new outer neighborhoods that were now accessible in ways not possible before.

In the years following the tunnel's opening, residential parks including Balboa Terrace, Westwood Park and Monterey Heights sprang up, as the Western Neighborhoods Project detailed.

Last Saturday, Westwood Park, a 650-home residence park north of Ocean Avenue, celebrated its centennial, and others are likely to follow.

West Portal in the 1950s. | PHOTO: San Francisco Public library

The Twin Peaks tunnel is still a defining feature of West Portal. In fact, event organizers had to work around the train's schedule to plan the centennial. 

At first, organizers considered getting a permit to shut down train service temporarily, but "that turns out to be really hard," said Eichelberger.

Later, organizers hoped make the best of a planned ten-day tunnel shutdown, but construction was delayed.

The West Portal neighborhood. | Image: Google Maps

In the end, the WPMA decided to hold the celebrations in one of the few open areas on West Portal Avenue: the parking lot between Ambassador Toys and Goat Hill Pizza

Tomorrow, between 11am and 5pm, residents, merchants and politicians will celebrated the centennial with a bouncy house, music, and kids crafts.

But the main event will be the communal installation of a mural by local artist Sirron Norris, which Eichelberger calls "a birthday gift for the avenue."

This week, Norris primed the wall and completed the outlines. On Saturday, revelers will have a chance to color inside the lines.

"It's really exciting to get a lot of people over to West Portal," Eichelberger said. "We're such a town in the middle of the city." 

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