Best Graveyard

Washington Square

In 1900 the Board of Supervisors declared cemeteries illegal within San Francisco's city limits (with the hallowed exceptions of Mission Dolores and the Presidio), resulting in wholesale excavations of city graveyards at Geary and Masonic, Powell and Lombard, 19th and Dolores, and Franklin and Broadway (and the coffins' subsequent reburial elsewhere). Yet rumors persist that during the outbreak of bubonic plague that swept the city after the 1906 earthquake, North Beach was so burdened with corpses that official niceties were ignored and the bodies were buried in Washington Square. (Hence the greenest grass in this windblown sand spit of a city.) Even if the rumors are unfounded, Washington Square is still a fine patch of green to frequent with its weekend art shows, urban ebb and flow, balletic tai chi practitioners, and Sts. Peter and Paul Church gleaming in the sunshine.


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