Great City, Mediocre Namesakes
I lived on Fillmore Street this summer. Pierce St. was — is — two blocks to the west. Hayes (Street & Valley) is two blocks north; Buchanan, two blocks east. If you like history, you can’t help noticing what those names have in common (and if you’re a Simpsons fan from the good old days, you can’t help associating that commonality with this (@ 3:45 here to listen). The names, of course, belong to the mediocre, adequate, forgettable, occasionally regrettable caretaker-presidents of the U.S.A.
If you consider when San Francisco was born and raised, and then which presidents held office during that period, it’s easy to see how SF got stuck with Polk, Taylor, and Fillmore on its street signs instead of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.* Still, it’s kinda funny — funny-sad, not funny-ha-ha — that there were eight(!) presidents between Jackson, who left office in 1837, and Lincoln, who was inaugurated in 1861, and none of them are much remembered today. All San Francisco’s missing are streets named after Tyler, Van Buren, and Chester A. Arthur. And maybe, a century from now, another named after a Bush. Either one.
* It’s worth mentioning that apparently neither Harrison nor Buchanan Street was named after Benjamin/William Henry or James, respectively. And of course Bush Street was Bush Street long before George I or George II ever came along.