San Francisco is a city of many neighborhoods: from the well-known Chinatown and North Beach, to the hipster Mission, to the one that has streets laid out to look like a bell. Yep, a bell. If this doesn’t ring a bell (sorry, I couldn’t resist), I’ll fill you in.
It’s St. Mary’s Park, which is part of Bernal Heights on the real estate map, tucked in the southwest corner of Bernal, just north of the Excelsior.
How, you might ask, did a neighborhood end up with streets laid out in the shape of a bell? Look no further than the name of the neighborhood — the first St. Mary’s College opened in the area in 1863. Tuition was $60 per academic year for day students $250 for boarders (lights out: 8:30 PM — just like my days in college).
The college moved to Oakland in 1889, and in the 1920s the Catholic Diocese subdivided the land and sold some for development. The bell shape of the streets is a reference to the school’s church bell.
In addition to its spiffy bell shape, the neighborhood is home to the St. Mary’s Park and Recreation Center. Located on Justin at the end of Murray Street, this park is a well-kept secret. But if you have a dog, like to play tennis or shoot some hoops, this is a great park to visit. There are also baseball diamonds, a playground for the kids, and bathrooms.
The St. Mary’s Park Improvement Club has some more great history of the neighborhood, as well as a blog that was last updated in 2006. And, according to a recent New York Times article, there’s a neighborhood newsletter: “The monthly newsletter, The Park Bell, is delivered by a papergirl; articles announce potluck dinners and seed exchanges, and offer updates on the health of neighbors. The recipe editor’s job is open.” How cute is that?
If you’d like more information about the neighborhood, drop us a line.