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Jerry Flamm
Former Fillmore Resident
Author: Good Life in Hard Times

Jerry Flamm
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Image Credit: KQED 1999

 

 

Fillmore kids
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Photo Credit: Jerry Flamm

On Jewish Families in the Fillmore

Fillmore was about as close to the East Side of New York as San Francisco ever had. It had a highly Jewish flavor. After the fire and earthquake almost leveled Market Street and burned out the area South of Market, the Jewish families moved up to McAllister in the Fillmore. That's how it was first settled. It developed, after the earthquake, into a bustling commercial strip. The department stores that had been burned downtown moved up to the Fillmore. From 1906 to 1909, Fillmore was the main street in San Francisco.

On the Fillmore Street Arches

In 1907, fourteen arches were put up by the Fillmore Street Improvement Association, which was an association of Fillmore merchants. At the time, it was called the most highly illuminated street in America. When the merchants saw that there was an opportunity to establish a good commercial district, they put up the arches from Fulton to Sacramento Street. They just threw a flood of light along Fillmore Street.

Fillmore Arches
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Photo Credit: Jerry Flamm

Fillmore Bakery
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Photo Credit: San Francisco Public Library

On Bakeries in the Fillmore

McAllister, from Fillmore to Buchanan, was the guts of the Jewish food shopping area, with markets, delicatessens, and bakeries. The bakeries were known throughout the Bay Area. Lagedorf's was especially well-known for its challah, the twist breads. During the holidays, they'd stuff them with fruit and sprinkle candy beads on top. Waxman's was famous for their rye bread. The Ukraine bakery was more of a specialty place. So those three shops were the heart of the bakery supply for Jewish customers.

On the Fate of the Fillmore Arches

The arches stayed up until World War II. In 1943, the city had a dim-out because of the fear of Japanese submarines. You had to turn your lights down low to a certain intensity. The arches had been constructed so that they couldn't turn the intensity of the lights down so they had to turn them off. So the Fillmore Street merchants, in a gesture of patriotism, offered to take down the arches and contribute the scrap iron to the war effort. So in 1943, they took the arches down.

Taking down the Fillmore Arches
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Photo Credit: San Francisco Public Library

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