National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco

National Register #79000535: Old Ohio Street Houses
Looking South Toward Pacific Avenue
National Register #79000535: Old Ohio Street Houses
Looking North Toward Broadway
26 May 2008
(Click Photos to Enlarge)
National Register #79000535
Old Ohio Street Houses
17-55 Osgood Place Between Pacific and Broadway Near Sansome
Built 1900-1906

The Old Ohio Street Houses are three brick buildings on Osgood Place (originally called Ohio Street), a one block long street connecting Broadway and Pacific Avenue. Osgood Place is a very narrow street, and the buildings are sited immediately adjacent to the sidewalk. The effect on the pedestrian is of a very tight urban space, obviously part of the old city.

Inside the units are small and simple. The living quarters of working class people, they most likely included a kitchen, living room and bedroom. Most of the apartments measured about 462 square feet.

Osgood Place was in the heart of the Barbary Coast District which had an international reputation for licentiousness, lawlessness and shanghaiing. B.F. Lloyd, in his Lights and Shades of San Francisco, described the area in 1876 as being:

the haunt of the low and vile of every kind...Licentiousness, debauchery, pollution, loathsome disease, insanity from dissipation, misery, poverty, wealth, profanity, blaspheme, and death are there.

But Lloyd also noted - perhaps describing the residents of Osgood Place - that:

inside the limits of Barbary Coast, even among its foulest dens, are some who witness from day to day the lowest phases of human depravity and yet remain undefiled. They are not there by choice; but by force of circumstances are compelled to abide in the unhallowed precincts.

When the Old Ohio Street Houses were built, the Barbary Coast still maintained its reputation. In 1911 on the south side of Pacific between Montgomery and Sansome Streets there were, from west to east: dance hall, saloon, saloon, saloon, temporary mission, vacant lot, saloon, vacant saloon and cheap show, San Francisco Fire Department Engine #1, vacant lot, saloon, storage, saloon, cigar factory.

To say nothing of the hundreds of houses of prostitution that were ultimately closed down by the Red Light Abatement Act of 1917.

Adapted from the NRHP Nomination Form

The Old Ohio Street Houses are in the Jackson Square Historic District.

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