Concept

Bernal Heights, San Francisco

Summary
Bernal Heights (ˈbɜːrnəl ) is a residential neighborhood in southeastern San Francisco, California. The prominent Bernal Heights hill overlooks the San Francisco skyline and features a microwave transmission tower. The nearby Sutro Tower can be seen from the Bernal Heights neighborhood. Bernal Heights lies to the south of San Francisco's Mission District. Its most prominent feature is the open parkland and radio tower on its large rocky hill, Bernal Heights Summit. Bernal is bounded by Cesar Chavez Street to the north, San Jose Avenue to the west, US 101 to the east, and I-280 to the south. Bernal Heights was part of the 1839 Rancho Rincon de las Salinas y Potrero Viejo, a Mexican land grant awarded to José Cornelio Bernal (1796–1842). By 1860, the land belonged to François Louis Alfred Pioche (1818–1872), a Frenchman and financier, who subdivided it into smaller lots. Its streets were laid out during the Civil War by Army engineers from the Presidio, which explains why so many Bernal streets are named for military men. It was first populated primarily by Irish immigrants who farmed the land and ran dairy ranches. According to legend, a mini gold rush was triggered in 1876 when con artists planted the hilltop with traces of gold. Bernal Heights experienced a period of growth after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake as displaced people from San Francisco moved to the neighborhood for temporary or permanent residence. Built atop bedrock consisting largely of seismic-dampening radiolarian chert, many of the hill's structures had survived the tremor, and the sparseness of the development saved much of Bernal from the ravages of the firestorm that followed. The commercial corridor of Eugenia Avenue filled in with shops as the pastureland on the hilltop was developed for workers' homes during the rapid rebuilding of the city. Some of the tiny earthquake cottages, which the city built to house quake refugees, survive to this day, including three that were moved up to Bernal Heights. During World War II, the area saw another population surge.
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