It’s pretty well accepted that San Francisco began in 1776, when Spanish settlers supposedly founded Mission Dolores by the shores of an ancient Mission District lake.
But now, an Oakland scientist makes the explosive claim that the lake never existed at all, and that the first settlement was actually by a spring near Duboce and Sanchez — the current site of Duboce Park Cafe!
According to a story in the Chronicle:
‘”It is a misconception that San Francisco was founded on the shores of a now-vanished lake,” [Oakland Museum of California scientist Christopher] Richard said. “As most commonly depicted, it did not exist.”
Instead, he said, his research shows that San Francisco was founded on the other side of Market Street, near the present-day corner of Duboce and Sanchez streets in the heart of what is now called the Duboce Triangle. There was a little spring there, Richard said, and it was the real location of what Spanish army Col. Juan Bautista de Anza and Franciscan friar Pedro Font called an “ojo de agua,” or spring of water.’
Richard says the whole “lake” myth arose in part because early mapmakers may have mistaken the Duboce Triangle spring for a lake, and also because early settlers wanted to please their superiors back home, who were apparently really into lakes.
Is Richard right? Who knows! But if you’re into local history porn like we are, then the thought that Spanish settlers may have set up shop right on the Wiggle is kind of magical. Definitely something to think about next time you’re standing outside DPC waiting for a table to open up!