Van Ness Avenue

Route map:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Van Ness Avenue
Van Ness Avenue near San Francisco City Hall in 2024
Former name(s)Marlette Street
Part of US 101 between the Central Freeway and Lombard Street
NamesakeJames Van Ness
Maintained bySan Francisco DPW, Caltrans
Length4.2 mi (6.8 km)[1]
Nearest metro station Van Ness station
South endCesar Chavez (Army) Street
North endAquatic Park Pier

Van Ness Avenue is a north–south thoroughfare in San Francisco, California. Originally named Marlette Street, the street was renamed[when?] in honor of the city's sixth mayor, James Van Ness.[2][3]

The main part of Van Ness Avenue runs from Market Street near the Civic Center north to Bay Street at Fort Mason. South Van Ness Avenue is the portion of Van Ness south of Market Street, continuing through the city's South of Market and Mission districts to end at Cesar Chavez Street. This southern segment was formerly a continuation of Howard Street, having been renamed by resolution of the Board of Supervisors on August 22, 1932.[4]

The route is designated US 101 from the Central Freeway at the convergence of South Van Ness, Howard Street, and 13th Street, north to Lombard Street.[5] Landmarks along the route include the San Francisco City Hall, the War Memorial Opera House, and Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall.


Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit red lanes

Before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Van Ness Avenue was known as "the city’s grandest boulevard, lined with Victorian mansions and impressive churches" (San Francisco Chronicle).[6] After the earthquake, the street was used as a firebreak by the US Army, dynamiting almost all buildings on its eastern side in an ultimately successful attempt to prevent the firestorm from spreading west to the entire city.[6]

During the 1920s, Van Ness Avenue became known as San Francisco's "Auto Row" as many car dealerships and showrooms opened on the street north of Civic Center.[6] By 2021, Van Ness Avenue had become "an important street without much character, due for a major overhaul," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.[6]

Streetcar service started on Van Ness in 1915 for the opening of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition. The rail lines were removed in the 1950s and replaced with a tree-lined median.[7] Planning for a new rail line on the corridor began in 1989 with the passage of a ballot measure.[8] By 1995, it was to be the last of four major rail corridors constructed in the city.[9] The planned mode was replaced with bus rapid transit in 2003, with studies and environmental analysis lasting the next decade.[10][11] Construction began in June 2016; the planned completion in 2019 was delayed several times along with cost increases.[12][13] Service on the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit corridor began on April 1, 2022.[14] The bus corridor was half the cost of the $346 million Van Ness Improvement Project, which also included utility replacement and pedestrian safety features.[15][13]

Major intersections[edit]

The entire route is in San Francisco.

00.0Cesar Chavez Street

US 101 south (Central Freeway) to I-80 east – San Jose
South end of US 101 overlap; interchange
1.82.9Mission Street
1.93.1Market Street
2.64.2Geary Boulevard
US 101 north (Lombard Street) – Golden Gate Bridge
North end of US 101 overlap
3.96.3Bay Street"Three Corners"
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Notable buildings[edit]

Notable buildings on Van Ness Avenue include (listed from north to south):


KML is not from Wikidata
  1. ^ Google. "Van Ness Avenue" (Map). Google Maps. Google.
  2. ^ San Francisco Planning Department (2009). "Area Plan: Van Ness Avenue". City & County of San Francisco. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
  3. ^ "Early San Francisco Street Names: 1846-1849". San Francisco Museum. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
  4. ^ "LIFE IN THE MISSION by Frank R. Quinn - FoundSF".
  5. ^ The location of Van Ness Avenue, Google Map
  6. ^ a b c d Nolte, Carl (2021-11-13). "The bandages are coming off: Check out S.F.'s new Van Ness Avenue". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2022-01-16.
  7. ^ Rodriguez, Joe Fitzgerald (January 15, 2016). "Trees, historic trolley poles to be removed for bus project". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  8. ^ "San Francisco Voter Information Pamphlet" (PDF). San Francisco Department of Elections. November 7, 1989. p. 34.
  9. ^ Four Corridor Plan. San Francisco County Transportation Authority. June 1995 – via Internet Archive 2018.
  10. ^ "San Francisco Voter Information Pamphlet" (PDF). San Francisco Department of Elections. November 4, 2003.
  11. ^ "10: Alternatives Analysis and the Locally Preferred Option" (PDF). Final Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report: Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Project (Report). San Francisco County Transportation Authority. July 2013.
  12. ^ "First Step for Van Ness BRT: Consolidating Bus Stops to Save Travel Time" (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. May 20, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Van Ness Avenue: What Lies Beneath (PDF) (Report). San Francisco Civil Grand Jury. June 2021. p. 7.
  14. ^ "BRT Service on Van Ness to Begin Tomorrow" (Press release). San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. March 31, 2022.
  15. ^ "Van Ness Improvement Project". San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on March 30, 2022.
  16. ^ Google (March 24, 2024). "Route of Van Ness Avenue" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved March 24, 2024.