San Francisco is full of landmarks named for male miners, politicians, and Gold Rush–era tycoons, but what about the notable women of San Francisco history? For this week's throwback, take a walk down city streets named after local ladies, and learn some of the stories behind them.
Cameron Way is named for Donaldina Cameron, a.k.a. "Chinatown's Angry Angel." The Presbyterian missionary rescued and educated more than 3,000 Chinese girls from a life of slavery and prostitution. The Donaldina Cameron House still stands at 920 Sacramento Street.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Elizabeth Imlay Horner sailed aboard the Brooklyn with her husband, John Meirs Horner. She was known as "the Bride of the Brooklyn," since the two married the day before they set sail. The Horners arrived in Yerba Buena in 1846 with Mormons including Samuel Brannan. John Meirs Horner became a successful agriculturalist who sold to miners, and also owned Horner's Addition, which became Noe Valley. He plotted the area, and named the streets. Among them is Elizabeth Street.
Rumor has it that Fella Place, in Chinatown, is named after the madame who ran a brothel in the alley.
Isadora Duncan Lane
San Francisco native Isadora Duncan was a famous dancer and choreographer, regarded (along with Martha Graham) as the Mother of Modern Dance. Her namesake street, Isadora Duncan Lane, is located in the Union Square/Lower Hob Hill area.
No, Jessie Street in SoMa was not named after a lady of the night. It was named after writer and political activist Jessie Benton Frémont, the wife of explorer, politician, and soldier John Charles Frémont. Jessie was the first presidential candidate's wife (her husband ran as the first anti-slavery Republican candidate in 1856) to play an active part in a political campaign.
According to a sign at Kezar Stadium, it was "presented to Golden Gate Park by Mary A. Kezar as a Memorial to her mother, Nancy H. Kezar, and her uncles, Bartlett Doe, John Sanborne Doe, Charles Franklin Doe, Pioneers Of California, erected by her executor, 1924."
Charles Gough was in charge of naming the streets of the Western Addition and what is now Hayes Valley. Octavia Street was named after Gough's sister Octavia.
Ora (Norris Martin) Robinson was married to Edwin E. Robinson, mayor of San Francisco from 1948 to 1956. Ora Way, a small lane in Diamond Heights, is named after her.
Rivas Avenue is another street in Parkmerced named after a woman. From Sonora, Mexico, Maria Manuela Gertrudis Rivas was the wife of Ygnacio Linares. They traveled with the De Anza Expedition. Maria, obviously tough as nails, had her fifth child on the trail and kept on traveling! The couple were among those living in the Presidio in 1776.