Bernal History Events Calendar

We're happy to appear at street fairs, festivals, and other community events to show old photos of the neighborhood, give out free booklets, and chat with people about Bernal Heights history.

Upcoming Events
  • Apr 19, 2017 7:00pm-8:30pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    OpenSFHistory: 1906 Earthquake Shacks

    OpenSFHistory is a project by the nonprofit Western Neighborhoods Project (WNP) to scan, and make available to the public, a collection of more than 100,000 historical images of San Francisco.

    Woody LaBounty and David Gallagher, co-founders of WNP, will present selected OpenSFHistory views of San Francisco’s recovery from the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, and tell the story of the Relief Cottage Plan that housed more than 16,000 refugees. These "earthquake shacks" were moved out of refugee camps and used as housing throughout the city, including Bernal Heights.

    WNP saved three of these cottages from demolition in 2006, and David and Woody will give a review of the few dozen that can still be found across the city.

    The meeting starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.

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    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)
Past Events
  • Mar 15th, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show-and-Tell

    Phew -- we're still recovering from San Francisco History Days, where we displayed our scale model of the Bernal Cut complete with Southern Pacific train as well as two ghost earthquake shacks. We'll be having a catch-up get-together this month. Bring your stories and photos for show-and-tell. Wednesday's meeting starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Feb 15th, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: History Days 2017 is coming!

    We have a few things to talk about this month -- the biggest of all is San Francisco History Days, taking place on March 4 and 5. We will be building not one, but two ghost earthquake shacks at the Old Mint this year. And we're hoping to have even more historical Bernal nuggets to share with everyone who attends. Do you have time to volunteer for a couple of hours at History Days? Please let us know. Have stories or photos to share? We'd love to hear them. Wednesday's presentation starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Feb 15th, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: History Days 2017 is coming!

    We have a few things to talk about this month -- the biggest of all is San Francisco History Days, taking place on March 4 and 5.

    We will be building not one, but two ghost earthquake shacks at the Old Mint this year. And we're hoping to have even more historical Bernal nuggets to share with everyone who attends.

    Do you have time to volunteer for a couple of hours at History Days? Please let us know at this show-and-tell meeting. Have stories or photos to share? We'd love to hear them.

    Wednesday's presentation starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.


    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Jan 18th, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    The Monkey Ranch; or, How a Forgotten Pleasuring Grounds Gave Glen Park its Name!

    Just south of Twin Peaks lies Glen Canyon, 70 acres of natural open space right in the heart of San Francisco. This impressive urban ravine has provided a place for local residents to enjoy continuous recreational use for 120 years.

    Join us as we venture back to the 1890s with Glen Park historian Evelyn Rose to when it all began, an event long-forgotten in the annals of San Francisco history.

    Learn the surprising story of the prominent realtor who first established Glen Park as a "pleasuring grounds," an attraction to help sell home lots conveniently located at the entrance of the park. Thousands of spectators would make their way to the canyon every weekend to view a menagerie of exotic animals, and be entertained by death-defying aerial acts and a "mammoth" array of dazzling shows full of pomp and spectacle!

    Evelyn founded the Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project (GPNHP), covering Glen Park, Glen Canyon, Sunnyside, Fairmount Heights, and Diamond Heights, in 2014. She is currently Chair of the GPNHP, and writes a quarterly history column, (Hi)Stories of our Neighborhoods, for the Glen Park News.

    The group recently received the Walter G. Jebe Sr. Neighborhood Award from the San Francisco History Association for their work in rediscovering the lost histories of a portion of the Old Rancho San Miguel.

    Wednesday's presentation starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

    RECAP -

    BHP started the year with Evelyn Rose from the Glen Park Neighborhoods History Association giving a stellar and always engaging talk and PowerPoint presentation on "The Monkey Ranch; Or, How a Forgotten Pleasuring Grounds Gave Glen Park Its Name." She talked about the history of Glen Canyon and all of the various landholders and real estate dynasties who bought and sold their ways to fame and fortune giving us the Glen Park we all know and love today. From some failed and many workable plans to develop the canyon, she wove a story of schemes, money, intrigue, political confrontations, animals and amusement.

    The Monkey Ranch project may not have survived the various political upheavals at City Hall, but it did bring Glen Park the Mission Zoo, Moro Castle, high-flyer aeronauts, and performers such as Dubell (the celebrated aerialist), Idaline (the famous Parisian dancer), Lajess (double contortion performance), Edward Olcott (clown contortionist), Kecko (the gymnastic ape) and Al Hazard (the celebrated ventriloquist). The park was often filled with performers such as bareback circus rider Elsie St. Leon, lion tamer Madame Schell, champion huntress Lillian Smith, homing pigeon races, boxing events, wrestling, bowling and dance, and of course sham battles and shooting range practice.

    Glen Park became the outdoor entertainment theater for folks searching for a break from "the City" in beautiful and bucolic Glen Park and Glen Canyon.

    Evelyn offers superb and informative walking tours that are a must-do of Glen Park and Glen Canyon. She can be contacted at glenparkhistory@gmail.com.


  • Nov 16th, 2016 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Last meeting of 2016: Slideshow and potluck

    We don't meet in December, so this is our last get-together of 2016. We've thrown together a slideshow of some of our recent photo acquisitions, some of which are part of the Bernal Mystery Project. Help us figure out what we're seeing in the photos! It's also a potluck. Bring snacks, leftover Halloween candy, and whatever you'd like to share -- and we'll talk about our plans for 2017. Wednesday's meeting starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Oct 19th, 2016 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show-and-Tell

    We know lots of you will probably be watching the third presidential debate, but if you want a break from all the political coverage, come see us at the library! We'll have Sanborn maps in color, family photos, and updates on our research to share -- and you can find out how to research your Bernal home or business for free.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Sep 28th, 2016 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    NOTE NEW DATE: Monthly meeting: Show-and-Tell

    Note that this meeting is a week later than our normal schedule -- we swapped with another group at the library this month. This month's meeting will be a general show-and-tell get-together. Bring your photos, stories, and artifacts and we'll talk! The meeting starts in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); enter through the side gate on Anderson Street. As always, it is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Aug 17th, 2016 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show-and-Tell

    After two presentations back-to-back, this month's meeting will be a general show-and-tell get-together. Bring your photos, stories, and artifacts and we'll talk! Wednesday's meeting starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Jul 20th, 2016 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    "The Story of One Bernal Heights Building"

    Patrick Silk lived in Bernal Heights for 15 years, more than a hundred years ago. His great-grandson will talk about how a family history project turned into a research project about the history of the building Patrick built, and how it has fared and changed over the next century. This is also a show-and-tell get-together. Bring your photos, stories, and artifacts and we'll talk! We have handouts on how to research your Bernal home, so come to the meeting if you'd like one of those. (And we'd love to hear your stories.) The meeting starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room; turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Jun 15th, 2016 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Researching Your House: A Bernal Heights Case Study

    Bernal Heights resident Eve Andersson will present a step-by-step guide to how to research your house. Along the way, she'll share some things she learned about her own home and the people who've lived there from 1873 to the present day. As always, admission is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • May 18th, 2016 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show-and-Tell

    We're catching up on show-and-tell, so please bring your photos and stories to share. We have a few 1980s-era photos of Cortland Avenue from the Bernal branch library's archives -- did you know there was a gas station on the hill? Oh yes! -- as well as an update on our earthquake shack research. As always, the show-and-tell meeting is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Apr 20th, 2016 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    "San Francisco Relocated" slideshow and talk by Diane Donovan

    San Francisco is second only to Chicago in the amount of buildings that have been physically moved around town – but until now, this story has never appeared in book form. Diane Donovan's "San Francisco Relocated" (Arcadia Publishing, 2015) offers an introduction to the topic, covering the heyday and high points of building moves throughout San Francisco and profiling some small-time building movers whose efforts transformed neighborhoods such as the Portola District and the Crocker-Amazon. From Bernal Heights earthquake cottage moves to moving churches, industrial buildings, and Victorian houses, the City's rich house-moving heritage is reviewed with dozens of images accompanying stories of house movers, historic buildings, and "impossible moves." Diane Donovan put her skills to work on a project that took on a life of its own and eventually involved a quest to locate her childhood landlord’s family and his inspiration for entering the house-moving business. Copies of her book, San Francisco Relocated, will be available for sale and signing. Wednesday's meeting starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room; turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Mar 16th, 2016 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show-and-Tell

    Back to our usual night and time for a show-and-tell get-together after our adventures at San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint on March 5 and 6. Bring your stories, photos, ephemera, and curiosity to share!
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Mar 5th, 2016 2:00pm (Saturday) at Old Mint
    "How to Research Your San Francisco Home -- For Free!"

    John Blackburn and Vicky Walker will be reprising their presentation from August 2015 with a wider San Francisco focus. If you missed our slideshow then, here's a chance to see it at the historic Old Mint as part of the free History Days weekend community event!
    map to: Old Mint 88 Fifth Street

  • Mar 5th, 2016 11:00am (Saturday) at Old Mint
    San Francisco History Days

    On the weekend of March 5 & 6, 2016, the City of San Francisco Mayor's Office opens the Old Mint to the public for a free community open house event called the San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint. Join community historians from the Bernal History Project and archivists, genealogists, archaeologists, researchers, educators, re-enactors, authors of history, filmmakers, and other history enthusiasts for this FREE weekend showcase throughout the building and vaults.
    map to: Old Mint 88 Fifth Street
    more info: sfhistorydays.org

  • Feb 18th, 2016 6:15pm (Thursday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show-and-Tell

    This month's meeting is on a different day at a different time, just this once! We'll be talking about the upcoming community history event SF History Days at the Old Mint, the history of Bradford Street, and our latest discoveries of earthquake refugee cottages. Bring your stories and photos to share. Thursday's meeting starts at 6.15 p.m. in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); enter through the side gate on Anderson Street. As always, it is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Jan 20th, 2016 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Happy New Year show-and-tell!

    Our first get-together of the year will be a show-and-tell. Bring stories, photos, and ephemera to share. We will also be talking about San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint, formerly known as the San Francisco History Expo, on March 4-6, 2016. BHP will be taking part, along with dozens of other community historians, archivists, genealogists, archaeologists, researchers, educators, reenactors and other history enthusiasts -- and best of all, the event is free this year!
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Oct 21st, 2015 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Last show-and-tell of 2015!

    This is our last get-together of 2015 -- we gave up our November slot at the library to another group. If you have questions and stories to share, don't miss out -- and come to see what your neighbors have to tell about Bernal history! Wednesday's meeting starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Sep 16th, 2015 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    "How We Researched One Bernal Home"

    Following on from last month's presentation on "How to Research Your Bernal Home," John Blackburn of BHP will explain the life history of 22 Newman Street and show how he used our research tools to find out as much as he could about the building. Feel free to bring your own Bernal research, photos, and stories to share with everyone. If you missed last month's slideshow, you can watch it here on YouTube. Unfortunately the hyperlinks in the slideshow aren't clickable, so we'll compile them in a handout and update our Research Your Home page.
    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)

  • Aug 19th, 2015 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    "How to Research Your Bernal Home"

    We have an admittedly ambitious plan: We want to research and record the history of every building on the hill, and we'd love your help.

    On Wednesday, August 19, we'll present a slideshow that explains how to investigate your own home and all the resources you can use, including city directories, tap records, Sanborn (fire insurance) maps, neighborhood newspapers, and many more free databases.

    We'll be using several examples of Bernal homes and businesses in our show, but this is an interactive presentation, so feel free to come with stories and photos of your own, especially if you want to find out more about your street and the people who lived in your home before you did.

    Wednesday's meeting starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland at Anderson); turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it is free and open to all.


    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)