Kearny Street

Kearny Street

Kearny Street.

Kearny Street in San Francisco, California runs north from Market Street to The Embarcadero, with a gap on Telegraph Hill. Toward its south end, it separates the Financial District from the Union Square and Chinatown districts. Further north, it passes over Telegraph Hill.


Kearny Street was originally named "La Calle de la Fundacion" by the Spanish. Translated, this means "street of the foundation." The origin of the present name, Kearny Street, is generally assumed to be Stephen Watts Kearny, the first military governor of California under U.S. rule.[1] Another possible namesake includes General Philip Kearny.[2]

At Kearny and Clay, the first cable car in America, invented by Andrew S. Hallidie on August 2, 1873, climbed five blocks up the Clay Street hill.

From the turn of the twentieth century until 1977 the area around the intersection of Kearny and Jackson Streets was home to a large Filipino population, and earned the nickname Manilatown. Located at 848 Kearny Street, the International Hotel served as the heart of Manilatown. In its heyday of the 1920s and 1930s the estimated population of Manilatown was between 20,000 and 40,000 people. [3][4] In 1968 the hotel was sold to developers intending to replace it with more profitable commercial property. After a protracted court battle, the remaining two hundred odd tenants were forcibly evicted on 4 August 1977. The hotel and other buildings to the south of it on that block were quickly torn down, after which the land lay vacant for over a quarter of a century. On 27 July 2004, a two block stretch of Kearny Street was officially declared to be Manilatown.


Landmarks along Kearny Street include Lotta's Fountain at Market Street, where 1906 Earthquake commemorations are held; 555 California Street, the city's second tallest skyscraper; the location of the old Hall of Justice at Kearny and Clay Streets now occupied by the Hilton San Francisco Financial District; the Lusty Lady, the nation's first worker-owned peep show; the eastern border of Portsmouth Square, the original Plaza of the pueblo of Yerba Buena; and Coit Tower, at the top of Telegraph Hill.


  1. ^ Lupton, Samuel L. (8 September 1901). "The Making and Naming Of the Streets of San Francisco.". San Francisco Call. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Walter J. (27 August 1916). "When Kearny Street Was Young". San Francisco Chronicle. p. 28. 
  3. ^ Estrella, Cicero A. (28 July 2004). Manilatown' will rise again"'". San Francisco Chronicle. pp. B1. 
  4. ^ "Manilatown: Seeds of the Community". Manilatown Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 17 December 2007. 

Other uses

  • "Kearny Street" is a song by American composer Rod McKuen.

See also

  • O'Brien, Robert, This is San Francisco. 1948. 1994 Chronicle Books ISBN 0-8118-0578-6