Geary Boulevard

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Geary Boulevard
San Francisco-Richmond District.jpg
Geary Boulevard, looking eastbound at 36th Avenue, in a residential part of the Richmond District
NamesakeJohn W. Geary
Length5.8 mi (9.3 km)
LocationSan Francisco
Coordinates37°46′50″N 122°28′34″W / 37.7805°N 122.4761°W / 37.7805; -122.4761Coordinates: 37°46′50″N 122°28′34″W / 37.7805°N 122.4761°W / 37.7805; -122.4761
East endKearny Street
West end48th Avenue
Looking east from the Steiner Street pedestrian overpass

Geary Boulevard (designated as Geary Street east of Van Ness Avenue) is a major east-west 5.8-mile (9 km) long thoroughfare in San Francisco, California, United States, beginning downtown at Market Street near Market Street's intersection with Kearny Street, and running westbound through downtown, the Civic Center area, the Western Addition, and running for most of its length through the predominantly residential Richmond District. Geary Boulevard terminates near Sutro Heights Park at 48th Avenue, close to the Cliff House above Ocean Beach at the Pacific Ocean. At 40th Avenue, Geary intersects with Point Lobos Avenue, which takes through traffic to the Cliff House, Ocean Beach and the Great Highway. It is a major commercial artery through the Richmond District; it is lined with stores and restaurants, many of them catering to the various immigrant groups (Chinese, Russian, and Irish, among many others) who live in the area. The boulevard borders Japantown between Fillmore and Laguna Streets.

Geary Boulevard carries two-way traffic for most of its route, but the segment east of Gough Street carries only westbound traffic; at Gough, eastbound traffic is diverted by a short curved street, Starr King Way, onto O'Farrell Street, which runs parallel to Geary until it reaches Market Street.

The roadway was originally called Point Lobos Avenue, a name which survives as a branch and extension of the current street. The modern name pays tribute to John W. Geary, the first mayor of San Francisco after California became a U.S. state. (Later, he also had the unique distinction of serving as governor of both Kansas and Pennsylvania.)

Geary Boulevard also has the highest address and block numbers in San Francisco, with the last block being the 8300 block. In addition, although it is unsigned and contains no habitable structures, the city's GIS database records the underpass of Masonic Avenue as the 8400 block.[1]


Geary and Kearny after 1860 but before the installation of streetcar lines

The right-of-way began as a dirt carriage track to the Cliff House and Ocean Beach, two popular local attractions. For a time, a flat track paralleled the road where horsemen raced their mounts on Sundays.

Cable cars were operated on the street from 1880 to 1912 by the Geary Street, Park and Ocean Railway.[2] They initially ran from Market Street to Central (now Presidio), connecting to an extension running steam powered cars along Geary to 1st Avenue (now Arguello), whereupon they turned south to approach Golden Gate Park. In 1892, the cable car line was extended to 5th Avenue, where it turned south to reach Golden Gate Park directly. Despite its name, the Geary Street Park & Ocean Railway never actually reached the ocean.

From 1912, when the San Francisco Municipal Railway began service, until 1956, when redevelopment projects led by Justin Herman included their removal and replacement with buses, the A Geary-10th Avenue, B Geary, C Geary-California, and D Geary-Van Ness lines all ran along Geary from Market Street to 10th Avenue, 33rd Avenue, 2nd Avenue, and Van Ness Avenue, respectively. The B Geary line eventually reached Playland and Ocean Beach after turning south at 33rd Avenue and then west on Balboa Avenue. At 33rd Avenue, streetcars of the Market Street Railway came down from Clement Street[3] and continued along to the end of Geary at 48th Avenue where they turned north and entered a private right of way at Point Lobos Avenue to reach a car barn at Sutro Baths.[4] This made the entire length of Geary from Market Street to 48th served by streetcars. If and when a future streetcar line is built along Geary, it will likely once again use the "B" letter.[citation needed]

Muni bus service along Geary Boulevard is provided by the 38 Geary bus line, which is the most heavily used bus line in the city with over 50,000 passengers per day,[5] and over 100,000 passengers per day in adjacent lines (1 California, 2 Clement, 31 Balboa).

The section of the boulevard between Franklin Street and Masonic Avenue was upgraded to a signalized expressway in 1961.[6] It features between four and eight through lanes and two grade separations at Masonic and Fillmore, complete with frontage lanes.

Geary Boulevard also lends its name to the free open source email client Geary.

Bus rapid transit[edit]

There have been feasibility studies by Muni that have investigated the possibility of creating a light rail line on Geary,[7] but no plans have been adopted. A bus rapid transit line is being planned on Geary Boulevard between Van Ness and 33rd Avenue.[8] with a target completion date of 2022.[9] This bus rapid transit corridor will have dedicated bus lanes which are planned to be "rail ready," meaning the corridor will be designed so as not to preclude future conversion to a streetcar line, including a subway section in downtown.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ GIS database Archived 2010-06-15 at the Wayback Machine, DataSF.
  2. ^ "Cable Car Company - Geary Street Park & Ocean Railroad". Cable Car Museum. Retrieved 18 Mar 2013.
  3. ^ "1938 aerial view of the westernmost end of California Street in San Francisco, at Lincoln Park". 1938. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  4. ^ "1938 aerial view of the Cliff House and Sutro Baths in San Francisco". 1938. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) Data". San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  6. ^ Wildermuth, John (6 February 2014). "S.F.'s $50 million plan to fill Geary underpass at Fillmore". Hearst Communications. SFGate. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Short Range Transit Plan". San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
  8. ^ "Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit - FAQ". San Francisco Transportation Authority. Retrieved 5 October 2008.
  9. ^ "Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit | Home - San Francisco County Transportation Authority". SFCTA. Retrieved 22 June 2012.

External links[edit]