Apr 10

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Portola Mapped Through The Lense Of A 2nd Grade Class

The San Francisco School’s class of 2021 created a fun map of the Portola. Many of the little aspects of the neighborhood that us busy adults tend to miss have been artistically captured by the unspoiled eyes of youth. The black and white map highlights landmarks such as the beloved greenhouses to the not so loved but seemingly omnipresent graffiti. Click on the maps for an up close look and below we have copied the text from the map.


Welcome to the Portola!

The San Francisco School (SFS) is pleased to present this graphic map of the Portola.  Illustrated by the SFS Class of 2021 (at the time in second grade) the map celebrates the tales, trails and details of the neighborhood that we have called home since our founding in 1966.

Tucked into the southeast corner of San Francisco, the area was originally inhabited by the Ohlone people who lived along the fertile banks of Islais Creek.  Many believe that the neighborhood was named after the Spanish explorer, Gaspar de Portola, who led an expedition to the area in the 1770s.

However, the neighborhood that we know today took root after the 1906 earthquake.  Many homesteaders – initially Jewish, Maltese, Greek and Italian immigrants – capitalized on the area’s natural waterways and gentle hills and built greenhouses.  At its height, San Francisco’s budding Garden District boasted 19 family-owned nurseries and produced most of the flowers for the burgeoning city of San Francisco. Relics of the Garibaldi greenhouses stand today at the corner of Hamilton and Wayland Streets.

New to the neighborhood?  Consider starting your tour by hiking the Philosopher’s Way through McLaren Park.  This lovely, meandering 2.7 mile loop trail affords panoramic views of the city and surrounding hills.  Next, head into the neighborhood itself to find the images illustrated here and discover new delights, both large and small. Conclude your tour on bustling San Bruno Avenue and enjoy the Asian and Latino influences at the variety of family-owned restaurants and businesses.  Wherever your journey takes you, you are sure to discover the neighborhood’s many delights, as did the astute SFS second graders, when they set out to explore the Portola.  


On the backside of the large map, the student’s illustrated elements of the Portola’s character that aren’t commonly found on most maps.  Above is the full collage of landmarks and below, we’ve pulled out some that we thought were pretty fun and notable.

Our favorite is an homage to Mike, the dedicated civil servant who has been helping to keep “The Road” as clean as he can for decades.

A graffiti bench, an apt representation of urban living

The 770 Woolsey greenhouses, the last remaining greenhouses that once dominated the Portola landscape.

A keen eye noticed a hold over from when Portola was one of the largest Jewish communities in the city.

We love both the keen architectural eye of this artist as well as the inclusion of San Francisco’s most prolific tree, the power pole.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/04/portola-mapped-through-the-lense-of-a-2nd-grade-class/

1 comment

  1. Winston Smith

    Missing here are the 100+ men smoking cigarettes on San Bruno Avenue and then throwing the butts in front of apartment buildings.

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