FILLMORE HISTORY

While San Francisco’s Fillmore District has gone through many changes since its creation over a century ago, one thing has been consistent: its place as one of the most vibrant and long standing entertainment districts in San Francisco, a neighborhood where music has been intertwined into the fabric of everyday life for more than one hundred years.

Created by city officials in the 1880s to alleviate downtown overcrowding, it was the earthquake and fire of April 1906 that changed the course of The Fillmore forever. Spared the damage that hit San Francisco’s areas of commerce, the neighborhood was quickly remade into the city’s civic and retail center.

As political life returned to the Civic Center once the area was rebuilt, The Fillmore filled the void by increasing its notoriety as the place to go for entertainment in San Francisco. It was during this time that many of the theaters, dance halls and buildings that housed nightclubs were built, including The Fillmore Auditorium (known at that time as the Majestic Ballroom) in 1911. The National, built at Steiner and Post, regularly featured the young Al Jolson, who sang there for $60 a week. The neighborhood even got its own amusement park – The Fillmore Chutes – as well as Acme Brewery, the area’s source for beer on Fulton Street, which today houses the African American Cultural Center.

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The Star Nickeldeon Theater, on Post Street between
Fillmore and Steiner, late 1800s
Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center,
San Francisco Public Library
O’Farrell at Fillmore Street, 1930
Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center,
San Francisco Public Library
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