African American Historic Context Statement

Project status: Ongoing

The African American Citywide Historic Context Statement (AAHCS) explores the people, places, and events that highlight how San Francisco’s African American community played a central role in the social, cultural, and political development of the City. San Francisco Planning is pleased to announce the publication of a revised working draft of the AAAHCS.

Initiated in 2013, the African American Citywide Historic Context Statement (AAHCS) was supported by a grant from the Historic Preservation Fund Committee. A draft was first published in January 2016 written by Tim Kelly Consulting, VerPlanck Historic Consulting, and Alfred Williams Consultancy. In response to public review and comment, a revised draft was completed by San Francisco Planning Department’s Preservation Staff in 2019.  

The focus of the AAHCS is to identify important themes in the history of San Francisco’s African American community, and to provide a historic background on the development of the City and the areas where African Americans lived, worked, gathered, and celebrated. It chronicles the history of the African American community in San Francisco from the Mexican and Spanish colonial periods through the present day.  It is not intended to be a comprehensive history of the African American community in San Francisco. 

The AAHCS’ eight chapters highlight themes and major events:  

  1. African Descendants in Alta California 
  2. African Americans in San Francisco, 1849—1905 
  3. African Americans in the New Century, 1906—1940 
  4. Growth and Transformation during World War II 
  5. African Americans in Postwar San Francisco, 1946—1960 
  6. Urban Renewal in San Francisco’s African American Neighborhoods  
  7. Struggles for Civil Rights and Equality, 1960–1980 
  8. Epilogue: Black Out-Migration and Community Responses, 1980–2018 

How Will the Historic Context Statement be Used?

The San Francisco's Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) has made it a priority to identify places associated with San Francisco's social and cultural heritage through its Racial and Social Equity Resolution. One way to do this is through safeguarding and preserving historic places through the City’s landmark designation program. Recent landmarks associated with San Francisco’s African American community include the New Pullman Hotel (Landmark No. 280), Arthur H. Coleman Medical Center (Landmark No. 279), Third Baptist Church Complex (Landmark No. 275), and the Japanese YWCA/Issei Women’s Building (Landmark No. 291).    

Another way to protect these buildings is to provide economic incentives. The context can recommend policies to incentivize businesses, protect community spaces, and interpret significant sites where the physical fabric of a building or place has been lost. If adopted by the HPC, the document can be used by community historians, advocates, and City planners to provide a foundation for the identification, interpretation, and designation of potential historic resources relating to San Francisco’s rich African American history.

African American Citywide Historic Context Statement Open Forum

Monday September 25, 2023, 4 – 7 PM
Dr. George W. Davis Senior Center
1753 Carroll Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94124

The Context Statement explores the people, places, and events that highlight how San Francisco’s African American community played a central role in the of development of the City. Learn about the project, provide your feedback, and let us know how you would like African American history recognized in San Francisco – refreshments and prizes will be provided!!

Consideration for Adoption by the Historic Preservation Commission

On February 11, 2016, the Planning Department received a request for the HPC to continue the hearing for the African American Historic Context Statement to allow for additional time for the community to review the document. The Department has since received additional comments on the draft document and is in the process of editing the draft for consideration by the Historic Preservation Commission at a future hearing.

Past Events

Historic Preservation Commission Hearing

January 4, 2023 - at the Historic Preservation Commission hearing, staff gave an informational presentation on the AAHCS. The presentation provided an overview of the project and revisions to the draft since 2016, when the Commission last reviewed the report. The hearing provided details on next steps with community outreach and additional revisions to the report. Adoption of the AAHCS is anticipated at a future HPC hearing pending receipt of comments on the latest draft.

February 11, 2016 - the Planning Department received a request for the HPC to continue the hearing for the African American Historic Context Statement to allow for additional time for the community to review the document, and incorporate additional comments on the draft document for consideration by the Historic Preservation Commission at a future hearing.

Focus Group #1

Date: November 3, 2022
Location: IT Bookman Community Center, 446 Randolph Street, San Francisco, CA 94132

Focus Group #2

Date: November 14, 2022
Location: Peacock Lounge, 552 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

Focus Group #3

Date: December 5, 2022
Location: Alive and Free – Omega Boys Club, 1060 Tennessee Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Community Meeting

Date: Wednesday October 9, 2013
Location: African American Art & Cultural Complex, 762 Fulton Street, San Francisco CA 94102

Open House #1

Date: Thursday, April 24, 2014
Location: Bayview Library, 5075 3rd St., San Francisco, CA 94124

Open House #2

Date: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Location: Ingleside Presbyterian, 1345 Ocean Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112