San Francisco Landmarks

San Francisco Landmark #171: Earthquake Refugee Shack Earthquake Refuge Shack
San Francisco Landmark #171: Earthquake Refugee Shack 1200 Block of 24th Avenue
Both Photos 30 January 2012
Moving an Earthquake Refugee Shack Moving an Earthquake Refugee Shack
Courtesy Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

(Click Photos to Zoom)

San Francisco Landmark #171
Earthquake Refugee Shack
1227 24th Avenue Between Lincoln and Irving
Built 1906

Following the destruction of much of the city in the 1906 fire and earthquake, municipal officials faced the prodigious task of rehousing 16,448 citizens. James E. Phelan organized the Relief Corporation, which implemented three programs to solve the problem.

First was a flat grant of 33% of construction costs for rebuilding, payable after the building was completed.

Second was public housing, constructed on public land, for expected long term occupancy of those who could not afford "market rate" housing.

Third was the construction by the City Corps of Engineers, commanded by US Army General Adolphus Washington Greeley, of 5,610 cottages (average size of 10 X 14 feet) consisting of two or three rooms, a gas connection, and a coat of green paint. Called shacks in contemporary references, the houses were built on public parks and squares throughout the city, and leased to the homeless. The intent from the beginning was to encourage moving of the homes to private lots. To accomplish this, all rent was refundable once the shack was relocated.

The cottages thus enabled many lower income residents to not only return to established neighborhoods freeing up valuable public open spaces, but also to become homeowners. Often cottages were combined (three for the main house at 1227 24th Avenue) and most were customized to individual tastes. By the summer of 1908 public lands were cleared of the temporary settlements, and the little houses were scattered throughout the city.

Source: Planning Commission Resolution No. 9952 dated 23 February 1984.

The building remains a private residence.

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