Alexander Clark Real Estate

‘The Front Steps’: When the Richmond Wasn’t the Richmond

You might not believe that the Richmond has only technically been called “the Richmond” for about a dozen years now, but it’s true.

Neighborhood names and boundaries are usually quite subjective, but not around here: By order of City Hall, the Richmond consists of those streets north of Golden Gate Park and west of Arguello Boulevard, and the Richmond name dates to just March 2009…sort of.

Back in 1890, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors did first confer the Richmond name on the neighborhood; the origin of the term is a little hazy, but the most popular accounting holds that it was named for the Richmond House, which was named for the Australian city of Richmond, itself named after Richmond, England, which was named after a palace, which was named after a title. Geez, get all that?

The thing is, the name didn’t last, at least not officially: In November of 1917, the board renamed the neighborhood, dubbing it the “Park-Presidio District.” Why? Real estate, of course!

(Photo by Andrew Sorensen)

Western Neighborhoods historian John Freeman writes that real estate salesmen worried that prospective buyers might confuse the Richmond with the city of Richmond (incorporated 1905), and they lobbied neighborhood groups, who in turn lobbied lawmakers, to adopt what they thought of as a more distinctive moniker.

And they got their wish–except of course, nobody really ever paid attention to it. “The name ‘Park-Presidio District’ never became popular with the public,” the 2009 legislation undoing the name change observed.

That’s putting it mildly: Generations of Richmond residents doubtless lived and died their whole lives here without ever realizing it had such a name.

In early 2009, newly elected Supervisor Eric Mar made it his first order of business to undo the switcheroo of nearly a century prior; then-mayor Gavin Newsom signed off on the ordinance in March of that year, and the Richmond was the Richmond again–which of course, it had been all along.

No word on whether any of this ever did help home sales.

As always, if you have any questions you can contact us directly, or throw them in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe to this blog, or follow us on social media @theFrontSteps too. And please do consider giving us a chance to earn your business and trust when it’s time to buy or sell Bay Area property. People like working with us, and we think you will too.

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