625 Polk Street Between Turk and Eddy
Van Ness/Civic Center
Near the Civic Center stands a great Teutonic Rathaus built by the German Association in the days when Polk Strasse was the main
commercial street for San Francisco's many German immigrants.
Today the California Culinary Academy conducts classes here and operates a public
restaurant which serves student prepared haute cuisine at reasonable prices.
Frank Norris' pitiable dentist, McTeague, lived on Polk Street a few blocks north of California Hall. Here is how Norris described the ladies who shopped on
Polk Street before the 1906 Earthquake and Fire destroyed their flamboyant mansions on Van Ness Avenue:
Towards eleven o'clock the ladies from the great avenue a
block above Polk Street made their appearance, promenading
the sidewalks leisurely, deliberately. They were at their
morning's marketing. They were handsome women, beautifully
dressed. They knew by name their butchers and grocers and
vegetable men. From his window McTeague saw them in front
of the stalls, gloved and veiled and daintily shod, the
subservient provision men at their elbows, scribbling
hastily in the order books. They all seemed to know one
another, these grand ladies from the fashionable avenue.
Meetings took place here and there; a conversation was
begun; others arrived; groups were formed; little impromptu
receptions were held before the chopping blocks of butchers'
stalls, or on the sidewalk, around boxes of berries and
fruit....McTeague, Chapter 1
On December 31, 1964, the Council on Religion and the Homosexual held a costume party at California Hall...to raise money for the new organization.
When the ministers informed the San Francisco Police Department of their intentions, the SFPD attempted to force the rented hall's owners to cancel
the event. After a further meeting between the ministers and police, which resulted in an agreement not to interfere with the dance, guests arrived
to find police snapping pictures of each of them as they entered and left, in a blatant attempt to intimidate....