San Francisco Freeway Plan

Telstar Logistics just pointed us toward this great map of the network of freeways once planned for San Francisco.

Imagine Golden Gate Park surrounded by freeway. It’s like something out of science fiction! Great names on this thing though: Panhandle Freeway, Circumferential Expressway. “I’ll be there in five; I’ll just hop on the Circ Ex.”

Link, or click map to make it way bigger.

Update: Burrito Justice linked to this map in last week’s post about the Mission Freeway, and I didn’t even recognize it. Link.

17 thoughts on “San Francisco Freeway Plan”

  1. Dude, everyone knows it would take at least 20 on the Circ Ex. MishWay to PanFree is the way to go.

    Now imagine if you had BART along all those phantom highways — then we’d be talking.

  2. This particular piece has been going around the local blogs for a long, long time. So here’s my previous thoughts on the matter.

    This map only partially shows the destruction that this plan would have caused; the freeways themselves are only a minor part of it. Think about the parking this would have required, the gas stations, the auto repair shops, etc etc.

    Part of San Francisco’s character has always been that it’s a city of walking and public transit. It’s about as car-unfriendly as many European cities. But this distinction has less to do with the roads themselves than with what’s between them.

  3. European cities have real transit systems that actually make middle and upper class people feel like they don’t have to drive.

    BART is great, but only one line, while Muni is half-assed. Look at any great, world-class city and you see dense transit which supports higher population density and cooler things.

    Manhattan — 1.6m people in 23 sq miles (394 sq ft per person)
    Paris — 2.2m people in 41 sq miles (527 sq feet / person)
    SF — 800,000 in 49 sq miles (1700 sq feet / person)

    Frankly SF shouldn’t be as cool as it is given its low population density and poor transit (kidding (sort of)).

    That being said, you still have cars in those cities — but usually less than one per family. Something like 1/4th of the people in Manhattan still own cars. Lots of cars in Paris, but I don’t know anyone there who has two. About 350,000 cars registered in SF, and about the same number of residents. Given the number of people I know with no cars, that means lots with two.

    (Sorry I’m on such a BART tear these days, but I get excited when I see all these ObamaDollars dropping from the sky. Give me 30th St BART, SFO in 10 minutes and a bullet train to LA and I’ll shut up.)

  4. To Eric’s point, you can see some of the destruction these plans caused on Cesar Chavez and on Guerrero, both of which were widened in preparation for the Mission Freeway and the Southern Crossing. All of the buildings (and people) on the north side of Chavez were removed, from Bryant to Guerrero, leaving orphaned pieces of land that became gas stations, or car dealerships, or block-long housing developments. The homes on the east side of Guerrero south of Chavez were moved back onto their own back yards, and sidewalks were cut back to 8′ from 15′. Corner buildings, which were typically larger than 2-4 units, were demolished as they were too expensive to move. Residents were told that they would not be allowed to park on the street, as Guerrero was to have become 8 lanes. Those who could put garages in under their homes. The Freeway Revolt stopped all but 1/2 mile of the Mission Freeway from being built (on San Jose Avenue between Randall Street and the I-280 ramps), but a lot of damage was done before the plans were cancelled. It’s no wonder that St. Luke’s Hospital started its long slide into insolvency then. Hard to get to the local community-based, neighborhood hospital when the surrounding streets are all being carved up.

  5. Johnny0:

    Remember that BART is BAY AREA (rapid transit)– it was not planned to be, and thus doesn’t, serve as an SF transit system. It’s intent is to serve transportation between other areas of the bay.

    While I think a first-class subway in SF would be great, too, that’s not what BART is for– and that’s exactly why it’s ‘only one line’…

    Of course, this is because the planners were ready for the continued suburbanization and continued outward growth of residential communities further and further– which is unsustainable and stupid, sure… but that’s why BART isn’t serving your needs of inner-city travel…

  6. Agreed it is a regional, not city transit. But about half those taking BART from the 24th St station head downtown (according to, and I’d imagine the same is true for Glen Park and 16th.

    Transit for most other cities has express options, something Muni sorely lacks. BART effectively fills that gap.

    Anyway, BART is serving my needs, so well so that I want more of it. (If I remember correctly, the original plans in the 50s consider several lines through SF. Marin County was originally in the mix, so there must have been a line under consideration from the Golden Gate Bridge to downtown.)

    It’s so painful to get from the Mission to Presidio and (gasp) the Marina, a cross-town BART, (er, SFART?) seems obvious. I just want Gavin to buy that tunnel boring machine and NOT STOP DIGGING.

    And just to prove I appreciate the Bay Area nature of BART, here’s a cool-ass track map:

  7. At one point BART was supposed to head out along Geary St. — that certainly would have been a nice addition for the people in those areas.

    As it is, BART is a great way to get from the Mission to spots along the Market St. corridor but otherwise I really don’t use public transportation much to leave the Mission.

  8. 若干の良質な時間を過ごした―永遠のように感じましたが、まだそれを渡されるととても速く–それで手首と私の写真ブースでそれができたと、私は最後には詳しく見ていくと・・・ファインは、間近で個人的に起きた、それはまわりの他の方法がありません。

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