San Francisco’s Bernal Heights is a hilltop village tucked away in the southern part of the city. Freeways and urban thoroughfares now bound the neighborhood, once defined by the swamps and creeks of the original Mexican land grant. The legacy of Potrero Viejo, or “old pasture,” and the farms of the 19th and 20th centuries have developed into today’s passion for the preservation of open space. From the 1860s legend of Widow O’Brien’s cow to the 1970s fight that saved the hill’s crest from development, Bernal residents have tirelessly guarded their environment. An unofficial coyote mascot reigns over one of San Francisco’s few remaining wild areas.
About the Author
The Bernal History Project’s photographs and images from family scrapbooks and public institutions describe a richly diverse community formed by immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, and Latin America. By the end of the 20th century, Bernal Heights was known for its diversity, with modest and affordable homes welcoming newer residents, including African Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asians, and gay men and lesbians. In this volume of historic images, contributions from many Bernal Heights neighbors past and present elicit a vibrant and still-evolving story.