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
  • Sep 19, 2018 7:00pm-8:30pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Little Boxes: The Legacy of Henry Doelger

    We have a special movie presentation! We are delighted to host Robert Keil for a screening of his film, Little Boxes: The Legacy of Henry Doelger, which is a fascinating visual journey through the Westlake District of Daly City, California. This is the first documentary about Henry Doelger and his signature community, one of America's first and most iconic major postwar suburbs. Little Boxes not only documents Doelger's place in history, it uncovers Westlake's amazing development process and its classic midcentury style. A question-and-answer session will follow.

    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.

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    map to: Bernal Heights Branch Library 500 Cortland Avenue (at Andover)
Past Events
  • Aug 15th, 2018 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: How to Find Your California Ancestors

    Wondering how to research your family or your home, but don't know where to start? Not sure what records are available from the Gold Rush era to the 1906 earthquake and fire and beyond? Bring your questions and suggestions to this month's Bernal History Project meeting, which will be a roundtable conversation hosted by genealogist Sandra Huber of the California Genealogical Society and Library. She will share her extensive knowledge and advise on the best resources for local research. Sandra says, "I was able to learn so much about how to research records in San Francisco and California and elsewhere, I wanted to help others do the same."

    Sandra is a fourth-generation San Franciscan who attended Catholic schools and SF State University. She has a longtime interest in genealogy, and has successfully researched her maternal and paternal lines back for eight to ten generations. Some of her own ancestors, the Freemans and the Wrins, built houses side by side in Bernal Heights and ran a plumbing business for sixty years. She is working on a book about her family history in San Francisco and their places of origin.

    She hosts and facilitates the San Francisco Special Interest Group (SF-SIG) monthly history group at the San Francisco Main Library (second Saturdays) and the California Genealogical Society and Library (third Saturdays).

    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 18th, 2018 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show and Tell

    This month's meeting will be a general show-and-tell get-together. Bring your photos, stories, ephemera, and questions -- 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)

  • Jun 20th, 2018 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Story-Mapping San Francisco's Neighborhoods

    You may already have encountered Thy Tran and Bryan Wu, members of the Survival Project artist collective, because they hosted a story-sharing space on Cortland Avenue outside the library recently. At this month's Bernal History Project meeting, they will introduce their public installation, Transition24, which launches in autumn 2019. Bernal Heights is one of the highlighted neighborhoods in the project, which will include a series of interactive sound portals that connect stories of migration and transition.

    Thy and Bryan will share photos from their recent Gathering Table on Cortland, reveal early design sketches, serve treats connected to past work, and ask for Bernal residents' suggestions for further research and outreach in our community. If you'd like to contribute stories of your family's journey, please come to the meeting and meet them!

    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, kid-friendly, and open to all. Muni: 24, 67. Street parking: can be tricky because this is St. Kevin's bingo night.


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

  • May 16th, 2018 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Dogpatch Ranch: The Origins of a Chinese American Family

    Glenn Lym’s documentary tells the story of his great-grandfather, Lim Lip Hong; his great-grandmother, Chan Shee; and how they raised their family on a ranch in the Potrero District of San Francisco on the then-Bay shoreline during a period of intense anti-Chinese discrimination in San Francisco and throughout the West.

    Former Bernal resident Glenn Lym is an architect and historian. This screening is part of the San Francisco Public Library's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrations, and is jointly presented by the Bernal Heights Branch Library and the Bernal History Project.

    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.


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

  • Apr 18th, 2018 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Crackers at St. Anthony's: Bernal in the Movies and TV

    This month we have another compilation show by Ben Valdez. It includes excerpts from Crackers, a 1984 film by Louis Malle set at 24th Street and Alabama and starring Donald Sutherland, Sean Penn, Wallace Shawn, and Christine Baranski in a comic caper about an inept team of safe crackers who team up to rob a pawn shop.

    Ben will also reprise clips from The Ordeal of Patty Hearst, a 1979 made-for-TV movie that actually used the Symbionese Liberation Army safe house at 288 Precita to film in (and which startled Ben's grandparents, who used to live at that address in the 1960s). You'll see Better Call Saul's Jonathan Banks as Bill Harris, jogging along Army Street and buying fish from a street vendor on Precita before being arrested by FBI agent Dennis Weaver for his role in Hearst's kidnapping.

    We'll also have footage of the 1974 Streets of San Francisco episode "The Most Deadly Species," in which guest star Brenda Vaccaro plays a hit woman who seduces Michael Douglas and gets up to no good in St. Anthony's Church. And let's not forget the famous chase scene in the Steve McQueen 1968 classic movie Bullitt.

    Ben will also show some family home movies of weddings from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Anyone who has Bernal-related home movies or other clips to suggest is very welcome to bring them on a USB stick or disk to show at the meeting.

    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.


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

  • Mar 21st, 2018 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show and Tell

    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)

  • Feb 21st, 2018 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    From Confederate Spy to Lesbian Collective: The Strange History of 386 Richland

    BHP founder member Molly Martin has compiled a slideshow about the history of the Bernal Heights building where she has lived for 38 years -- and the shocking details she's just learned about its first owner.

    Molly is asking for your help solving the mystery of the building’s architectural transformation, using objects found in the walls as clues.

    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)

  • Jan 17th, 2018 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, taking place on March 3-5, 2018. 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!

    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)

  • Nov 15th, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    The History of the Bernal Cut: Slideshow and Holiday Potluck

    The origins of the Bernal Cut lie in the early San Francisco and San Jose Railroad, which later became the Southern Pacific Railroad. Dug out of the hills between Mission and Randall streets and San Jose and St. Mary's avenues, the "cut" made a shorter rail travel route into and out of the City. This single-track route remained a passenger route until 1932, continued to operate for freight trains through the 1940s, and was essential to transporting coffins and visitors to the cemeteries in Colma.

    We'll have a slideshow about the history of the Bernal Cut as well as a display and a working model of the train itself, built by John and Virginia Kibre.

    This is the last meeting of the year and will be a pot-luck event. Bring goodies, chips/dips, noshes, sushi, sweets, or anything to share. We'll provide cookies and coffee.

    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 18th, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Angelo Morosi: A Life on the Hill

    This month we have another special presentation courtesy of Bill Cassidy, a lifelong resident of Bernal Heights and a remarkable source of information about our neighborhood.

    At this month's meeting, we'll be showing around 40 minutes of Bill's and Jamie Steihm's interview with Angelo Morosi (1915-2006). Angelo lived on Holladay and Powhattan streets before moving to Silver Avenue.

    About thirty years ago, Bill filmed a series of interviews that evolved into an oral history project. He sought out people who had been born and raised on the hill and asked them to share their stories. "When they died, this would all be gone," he points out. "And then the history's gone, too." He wanted to show younger and newer residents of Bernal what life had been like.

    Bill's interviews have rarely been seen publicly since they were recorded; he is kindly sharing these with us for the first time. His work has helped inspire the Bernal History Project's own research and oral history recordings.

    We'll also talk about some Italian families and their contributions to the hill. If you have stories or photos to share, please contact info@bernalhistoryproject.org before the meeting, or bring them with you.

    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 20th, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Melvin Anderson: Life on the Hill

    This month we have a special presentation courtesy of Bill Cassidy, a lifelong resident of Bernal Heights and a remarkable source of information about our neighborhood.

    About thirty years ago, Bill filmed a series of interviews that evolved into an oral history project. He sought out people who had been born and raised on the hill and asked them to share their stories. "When they died, this would all be gone," he points out. "And then the history's gone, too." He wanted to show younger and newer residents of Bernal what life had been like.

    Bill's interviews have rarely been seen publicly since they were recorded; he is kindly sharing these with us for the first time. His work has helped inspire the Bernal History Project's own research and oral history recordings.

    At this month's meeting, we'll be showing around 40 minutes of Bill's 1987 interview with Melvin Anderson (1911-2003). Melvin's parents, Alfred and Tilda, came to the United States from Sweden in the 1880s and moved to Brewster Street and Costa Street before the start of the 20th century. Melvin goes into depth about his remembrances of growing up on the hill.

    We'll also have a short slide show about Scandinavian families and some Swedish-American contributions to the hill. If you have stories or photos to share, please contact info@bernalhistoryproject.org before the meeting, or bring them with you.

    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)

  • Aug 16th, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show-and-Tell

    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 19th, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show-and-Tell

    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)

  • Jun 21st, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Precita in the Movies (and on TV)

    This month we have a short presentation compiled by Bernal History Project's Precita Park/St. Anthony's expert, Ben Valdez. He has compiled some seldom-seen shots of bygone Bernal from family home movies and more familiar sources for this evening's presentation.

    This includes excerpts from The Ordeal of Patty Hearst, a 1979 made-for-TV movie that actually used the Symbionese Liberation Army safe house at 288 Precita to film in (and which startled Ben's grandparents, who used to live at that address in the 1960s). You'll see Better Call Saul's Jonathan Banks as Bill Harris, jogging along Army Street and buying fish from a street vendor on Precita before being arrested by FBI agent Dennis Weaver for his role in Hearst's kidnapping.

    We'll also have footage of the 1974 Streets of San Francisco episode "The Most Deadly Species," in which guest star Brenda Vaccaro plays a hit woman who seduces Michael Douglas and gets up to no good in St. Anthony's Church.

    And let's not forget the famous chase scene in the Steve McQueen 1968 classic movie Bullitt.

    Ben will also show some family home movies of weddings from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Anyone who has Bernal-related home movies or other clips to suggest is very welcome to bring them on a USB stick or disk to show at the meeting.

    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.


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

  • May 17th, 2017 7:00pm (Wednesday) at Bernal Heights Branch Library
    Bernal History Project monthly meeting: Show-and-Tell

    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)

  • Apr 19th, 2017 7:00pm (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.


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

  • 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 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)

  • 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)

  • 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.