How to Move a Neighbourhood of Houses Across Long Distances

By Jordan Kushins on at

San Francisco's current tech-led boom has seen slick new housing high-rises pop up all across the grid, but Bay Area urban renewal in the 1970s had a very different look. Photographer Dave Glass is a native of the city's Western Addition, and snapped these images of houses being driven around town like massive domestic trailers almost 30 years ago.

So This Is How You Move a Neighborhood of Houses Across San Francisco

This building was formerly located at 3875-79 Sacramento Street. Taken in 1977 with a Pentax H3v and Kodak PlusX film.

The relocation effort was spearheaded by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, one of 400 similar federal organisations established in the state — and more in the rest of the country — in the 1950s to support revitalisation projects in traditionally low-income neighbourhoods. (California's were officially dissolved by the Supreme Court in 2012).

So This Is How You Move a Neighborhood of Houses Across San Francisco

This image taken in 1977 shows house movers setting up a building into its lot on Ellis Street.

Places like these were shuffled around then sold cheaply, and many are still standing on and around Fillmore after being restored. It's surreal to see this architecture that stands out as so iconically SF being raised and towed as if the streets were actually just some kind of movie set, being prepped for filming the next unique chapter in its complex gentrification.

So This Is How You Move a Neighborhood of Houses Across San Francisco

So This Is How You Move a Neighborhood of Houses Across San Francisco

After studying photography at CCSF, Glass worked as an appliance repairman and "usually kept a camera or two stashed in my truck". These shots from 1976 and 1977 show a forgotten side to San Francisco's continuing flux. Check out Glass's Flickr page for more. [h/t socks]

All images: Dave Glass/Flickr