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George Christopher
Former Mayor of San Francisco
1955-1963

George Christopher
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Video Credit: KQED 1999

 

 

Fillmore street
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Photo Credit: Jerry Flamm

On World War II and the Fillmore

Back in those days, Fillmore Street was a prominent, prestigious street. They had big arches up and down the streets and the lights would go on at night. It contained some well-established business firms. During the war, all the property was neglected. There was no fixing up all the deteriorated streets and residences. By the end of the war, the Fillmore area had been degraded and everybody wondered how long it would take before it could be restored.

On the Philosophy of Urban Renewal

We had to do some restoration. The deterioration was widespread in San Francisco, but Japantown had suffered tremendously because the occupants had been removed. There was no one there to restore or renovate the property. The fact is that we all knew that it needed revitalization but it was a difficult task to accomplish. The longer we let it go, it would turn into a slum area. We didn't want to leave it for another three or four years because then it would become an area that would be impossible, in the final analysis, to restore. By building a hotel there, cleaning up, and making these other properties available, the entire area took on a new picture. And that's how it got started.

 

 

George Christopher looking at Japantown model
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Photo Credit: San Francisco Public Library

 

 

George Christopher and Justin Herman shaking hands
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Photo Credit: San Francisco Public Library

 


On Hiring Justin Herman

I think that throughout the country there was a shortfall in proper administration in the Redevelopment Agency. I had in mind that Justin Herman seemed to have the wherewithal and the knowledge of what was needed. So, one day I convinced myself that I should call Herman. I said to him, "There's only one solution for this matter. You quit your job with the federal government and you work for the city. If you solve this matter, your name will be of lasting moment in our city." He took the job and, believe me, I'm glad.

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