Then & Now VII: Communists and Italians on Valencia, Oh My!


Crowd of anti-communists raiding the Mission Workers Neighborhood House at 741 Valencia Street - 1934

No place in San Francisco more embodies the city’s rapidly changing cultural/economic divide more than the Mission and no street more than Valencia and no block more than the 700 block of Valencia.  It was already becoming more upscale when I moved here in the mid-1990s but still more bohemian.  While Mission Street still holds onto the shreds of its working class history with check cashing places and dollar stores, little of Valencia Street’s former working class and leftist history remains.

I have long heard about the 1934 San Francisco general strike, but thought it was more confined to Rincon Hill, Market Street and the shipyards.  So I was surprised to discover the  above shot of  “communists” being ousted from the Mission Workers Neighborhood House at 741 Valencia.


Today it is home of Tacolicious.

Gantner-Maison-Domergue Funeral Home, 777 Valencia street

A few doors down the street at 777 Valencia is a more substantial landmark, what I knew for years as New College which was in operation from 1971 to 2008.  Above it is shown in 1964 when it was a funeral home.

777 Valencia

I expect to see it as the green and pink building above as it appear throughout the first 16 or so years I lived her, faculty including people such as Robert Duncan and where I attended many lectures and presentations by environmentalists and progressives.



IMG_6789So it is a shock to see it today as “The Chapel” and “The Vestry”, upscale performance venue and restaurant.


And its sister campus was across the street at 766 Valencia.Today it is a mini-mall.  I couldn’t’ find any vintage pictures of it.

[Four people standing outside of Luchetti meat shop at 780 Valencia Street 1956

Right next door was Luchetti Deli,at 780 Valencia, seen here in 1956.


It took me a while to recognize its current incarnation above, but then I recognized the columns on the facade that are among the few details that remain.

Valencia Street between 19th and 20th streets-1927

Further down the block is this view looking south from just north of the intersection of 20th and Valencia taken in 1927.


And as it appears today.


With Genentech, Google and others running commuter buses in the neighborhood that have garnered national attention over the battles of gentrification, it has become a symbol of a rapidly changing city that seems to be wiping away its history at an increasingly faster pace.


While I used to spend a good deal of time in this part of the Mission, I find it feels increasingly less welcoming as it becomes safer, cleaner, whiter, more expensive, and less interesting.



One response to “Then & Now VII: Communists and Italians on Valencia, Oh My!

  1. hello,
    Luchetti meats was my grandfathers company and I was wondering where you were able to find that picture. We would love to know if there could be more.


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