The Marina district in San Francisco, the second Italian-American neighborhood

Marina District, Joe Di Maggio, italian culture, italian heritage, italian american, italian news, italian traditions

A view of the Marina district in San Francisco

 

Dear Readers,
San Francisco’s Marina District has many Italian connections. The neighborhood known as the Marina District did not exist one hundred years ago. Much of the land where homes, stores and streets were built had been either salt marshes or submerged tide lands. San Francisco’s great earthquake and fire of 1906 and the 1915 Panama-Pacific International exposition, both brought about plans to rebuild or develop on landfill the shoreline that commands beautiful and spectacular views of San Francisco Bay.
 
Unlike “North Beach”, which at one time was the West coast equivalent to New York’s “Little Italy”, the Marina was never “paesani” populated wall-to-wall, but was rather the neighborhood of choice in the 1940’s and 1950’s of San Francisco’s socio-economically upward mobile Italo-Americans.
Most homes were not mansions, just houses that because of their desirable location, commanded premium prices above identical floor plan tract homes elsewhere in the city.
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 Joe Di Maggio 

 Joe Di Maggio 

 
Joe DiMaggio bought a house on Beach Street in the Marina for his parents. In later years, during happier times, Marilyn Monroe would come to visit with Joe and his sister Marie. The baseball great died on March 8, 1999.

 
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When the Panama-Pacific International Exposition opened on February 20, 1915, after five years of construction, more than 150,000 visitors came to the Marina Fairgrounds on opening day (50¢ for adults and 25¢ for children). Mayor “Sunny Jim” Rolph led the way through the turnstile on Chestnut Street, which today remains the main business street in the Marina. In the Expos Festival Hall, opera superstar Luisa Tetrazzini gave a free concert for 3,000 children that attended from schools throughout the Bay Area. 

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Dario Resta, driving a 5,6 liter Peugeot won the first place at the Expos International Grand Prix, the first major automotive race held in San Francisco.
   Twice daily, the Fair held aeronautical shows. Pilots used the North Garden, now the Marina Green, to take off and land. “Sea Food King” Achille Paladini built a home across the street from the Marina Green, now Marina Boulevard that is still owned by his heirs today.
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The Expo closed on Dec. 4, 1915 and over 459 thousand people attended the closing ceremonies in front of the “Tower of Jewels”. After the exposition was dismantled, the debris removed and the land graded, the land was made suitable for subdivision and development.
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In 1922 the American Trust Company opened an office on Chestnut Street, followed by Bank of America a few years later. In 1924 the Metro Theater opened, followed by the Marina Theater in 1928 and the Municipal Railways F streetcar line build for the Panama-Pacific Exposition was extended and continues to this day with buses.
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Marina Junior High School opened in 1936 with facilities for 1,200 students. Graduating Marina Junior High School students mostly attended nearby Galileo High School on Van Ness Avenue, which during the 1940’s and early 1950’s had a student body that was predominantly Italo-American.
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In May 1937, the Mayor Angelo Rossi cut the ribbon, the official Golden Gate Bridge Pedestrian Day began and the Bridge opened, adding Golden beauty to the views in the Marina.
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