History

A Partnership
This site is a partnership between the South San Francisco Public Library and the South San Francisco Historical Society for the purpose of preserving and making available to the community information and artifacts from South San Francisco's past.
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The Grand Avenue Library houses the South San Francisco History Room devoted to the historical development and current events in South San Francisco.  The Local History Collection was established in 1967 and is located downstairs at Grand Avenue Branch Library, 306 Walnut Avenue.  The collection includes photographs, building and genealogical resources, pamphlets, yearbooks, oral history tapes, maps and many other documents.

The Historical Society is a non-profit organization established in 1980 for all those interested in the history and culture of South San Francisco.

It was originally formed to advocate for the historically significant architecture in the downtown Grand Avenue corridor and for the preservation of landmarks. The Society seeks to achieve this through active support and participation in community planning.Today we now have Sign Hill as a Registered National Landmark, Sidewalk of Names, Magnolia Plaza community room, the Historic Preservation Ordinance, and some 25 historic resources protected against needless destruction. 

A Resident's Reflection on South San Francisco  

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Yvonne Anderson was born in Belgium and immigrated to South San Francisco in 1946 with her American husband. It was always her father’s dream to come to the United States and 10 years after she immigrated her parents followed. After years of working at TWA Airlines, Pan-Am and Pacific Bell Phone Company, Yvonne became a stay-at-home mom and dedicated free time to her parish, All Souls, where she taught Continuing Catholic Development (CCD) and assisted the All Soul’s Women’s Club. In 1968, Yvonne felt ready to join the workforce again and began working for local construction company Guy F. Atkinson in 1980 and, in 1989, retired. It wasn’t long before work came calling again, only this time around, it was for pleasure, overall health and wellness with the South San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department as a Part-time Aquatics Instructor.

These are her reflections about South San Francisco.
What brought you to South San Francisco?
My husband’s brother and wife bought a house in Washington, D.C. and there was a house available in South San Francisco through the same realtor, so we bought the house. We purchased the house from an Italian couple who were like mentors to us. We had very nice neighbors who were the same age as my parents, so we took care of each other. My sister also immigrated to San Francisco in 1946, moved to St. Louis and later relocated to join us here in South San Francisco in 1948.

What is one of your favorite memories of South San Francisco?
How welcoming it was and how easy it was to settle in even though I missed my family. I continue to have lunch and get together with people I met when I first arrived and have many groups of friends from over the years.

My favorite memories from my time working in the Parks and Recreation department would be all of the nice people that I met at the pool. In the early 90’s, I took a swim class and the Instructor’s school schedule didn’t allow me to continue, so about three years after that, I began teaching the class and have been doing so ever since. I studied physical education back in Belgium and studied hard at night. I took Yoga classes and always enrolled my kids in the South San Francisco Park and Rec classes and when I retired, I needed something to do, so working at the pool as a part-time instructor was very fitting.

What is one piece of history that you don’t think most people know about when it comes to South San Francisco?
How it has changed and grown since I have been here. Buri Buri wasn’t here! There was nothing but hills. Now, there are houses all over. The industrial area was Fuller Paint Company and steel companies; the rest were farms. 

What do you think is the “best kept secret” of South San Francisco?
The canal used to flood every year until the retrofitting and we had rain in those days. Wind has always been fierce in South San Francisco and was always cold and windy. We’ve always had late summer.

What is your favorite thing to do in South San Francisco?
Have lunch with my friends at the Basque Cultural Center or at Bertolucci’s.

What do you want other people to know about South San Francisco?
I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else.