This city block is bounded by Harrison, Bryant, Sixth and Seventh streets. Before European settlement the block was mainly a marshland that drained east into Mission Bay, an inlet of the greater San Francisco Bay.
The block was close to the heart of Gold Rush San Francisco. In 1853, it became the site of the Russ Gardens, San Francisco’s first public pleasure grounds. The Gardens, begun by the German immigrant, Emmanuel Russ, contained an octagonal dance pavilion, sold beer, and featured dancing, picnics and performances. Despite being built in the “wilderness” south of Market Street, the Russ Gardens attracted people from all classes and ethnic backgrounds. It was one of the only respectable entertainment destinations in a city overflowing with saloons and gambling halls. People ventureed out on Sunday walks along the plank-covered Folsom Street road to relax and socialize in the Gardens.
When the Russ Gardens closed after a fire in 1861, the block was quickly built up with tenement housing. These houses, some three stories high, had small yards and were occupied by multiple families. By 1880s, the block had become a predominantly Irish neighborhood made up of large working-class laboring families.
The block was devastated by the 1906 Earthquake and fire. It was rebuilt
with a mixture of shops, industries, and the Southside Playground.