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Westwood Park Celebrates 100 Years of Community

Raymond Rudolph/Ingleside-Excelsior Light

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For their neighborhood’s 100th anniversary, Westwood Park residents celebrated with a picnic and plans to create a historical archive for future residents.

About 200 residents gathered on Saturday, Sept. 16 at the Faxon-Southwood greenspace to celebrate the milestone with speeches, a barbecue and scrapbooks of pictures from the neighborhood.

District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee, a Westwood Park resident, presented a certificate of recognition from the Board of Supervisors.

“I personally hope we can celebrate another 500 years!” Yee said.

Westwood Park is unique among San Francisco’s residence parks because it is comprised of bungalow style homes and that it was marketed to middle class, white collar workers, rather than wealthy families, according to Woody LaBounty, a historian and executive director of the Western Neighborhoods Projects.

As one of the West Side neighborhoods designed to coincide with the opening of the Twin Peaks Tunnel, Westwood Park was marketed as a getaway from downtown San Francisco.

In 1917, real estate developer Baldwin & Howell advertised the doubleringed
neighborhood with coins reading, “When the Tunnel is complete,
to Westwood we will retreat.”

Jeff Wentz, a resident, said he appreciates Westwood Park’s calm and its open design.

“It’s like living in the suburbs without being in the suburbs,” Wentz said.

Kathy Beitiks, a resident and tour guide with San Francisco City Guides, delved into the residence park’s history when she realized she didn’t know enough about the neighborhood where she has lived since 1984.

“[Westwood Park] seemed to be an unusual collection of lovely 1920s homes in a city known primarily for its Victorian houses,” Beitiks said.

Beitiks recently published a book about the neighborhood and, in preparation for the centennial celebration, helped to launch a project to collect archival materials from the past 100 years.

“We would love to have a thriving archive available for our neighborhood’s ‘descendants’ when they celebrate Westwood Park’s 150th anniversary,” Beitiks said.

In the course of her research, Beitiks discovered some of the neighborhood’s forgotten traditions.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the neighborhood hosted an annual Halloween Night Block Party. Each year, homeowners would decorate their homes elaborately and host a block party for costumed children — that is, until it became too popular — according to Beitiks.

Over the years, word about the block party spread and families from nearby neighborhoods began to attend.

The tipping point came when a local TV station aired a segment about the festivities and outsiders began arriving by the busload.

“After a tourist bus showed up one year, neighbors decided their little block party had grown beyond its original intention and the annual party ended,” Beitiks said.

Beitiks’ next tours of Westwood Park for SF City Guides are scheduled for Saturdays, Oct. 7 and Oct. 21. Participants should meet at Ocean and Faxon avenues at 10 a.m. Her book “Westwood Park: Building a Bungalow Neighborhood in San Francisco” will be available for sale on www.outsidelands.org.

Original community journalism takes money, time and hard work. You can now support the Light on Patreon. Visit www.patreon.com/ielight to sign up.

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