Treasure Island, the artificial swath of land beside Yerba Buena Island originally constructed for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, will soon be a place where the streets have no name. That's because a massive 20-year redevelopment project, begun in March, means a totally new system of roads for the island, as the Chronicle is taking note, presenting a rare opportunity for a city that's long ago run out of room for expansion to enshrine a new group of names on public roads.
The development of Treasure Island has been decades in the planning and will render the area largely unrecognizable by adding 8,000 units of housing and 300 acres of park space. In the process, “All of the streets on Treasure Island will be reconstructed,” Bob Beck, a spokesperson for the Treasure Island Redevelopment Authority, tells the Chronicle. That, not so tragically, means saying goodbye to existing Treasure Island street names like Avenues A, B, C, and so forth. “The street naming would be either places and names from within the exposition or names of artists who designed the buildings and artwork, things of that nature.”
To speculate, that might include then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the time of the Exposition, he had recently taken a tour of San Francisco including a spin around the new 49-Mile Scenic Drive, designed to show off our two cool new bridges (the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge).
In order to name a new street such as the ones headed to Treasure Island, suggestions are submitted to Public Works, who refers them to the Board of Supervisors. They need a majority to pass and the Mayor Lee, who has never exercised it in this regard, has veto power.
Although San Francisco has few new streets to name, existing streets are often rechristened. Consider, for example, the folks still saying "Army Street" instead of "Cesar Chavez." Phil Buscovich, who tells the Chronicle he is working on a book about San Francisco streets, says there's "a constant churning of street names... There’s no new streets, but people still have plenty of new names for the old ones."
The renaming of Treasure Island streets comes at a time when San Francisco schools are just beginning to consider renaming schools to better reflect the contributions of diverse local figures. That idea, encouraged by Board of Education president Matt Haney, who suggested example changes like renaming George Washington High School for Maya Angelou, who attended the school, school and quickly frowned upon by the likes of Fox News. “Streets connect to the culture of our city,” Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru tells the Chronicle“People identify with their streets. It reflects a certain type of honor or achievement, giving people recognition for the things they have done. And because we are so diverse, our streets are, too. New streets reflect that.”