The City of South San Francisco had its beginning in the fertile brain of Peter E. Iler of Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1889-90 Mr. Iler obtained options on 3,500 acres fronting on the bay of San Francisco, at San Bruno Point. Thereupon the South San Francisco Land and Improvement Company was incorporated, with P. E. Iler as general manager. Among the large holders of stock in the new enterprise were P. E. Iler, of Omaha and M. C. Keith, of North Platte, Nebraska ; Henry Miller, Henry S. Crocker, P. N. Lilienthal, E. R. Lilienthal, and Jesse Lilienthal of San Francisco, with P. D. Armour, G. F. Swift and Nelson Morris, millionaire meat packers of Chicago, owning a majority interest.
Among the parcels of land included in the Iler deal was 1,600 acres belonging to Miller & Lux, known as the “Home Ranch,” upon which the present city of South San Francisco has been built.
The land company made two distinct districts of its big tract, setting apart all of the land east of the right of way of the bay shore railroad for factory sites, and all west of this line for business houses and homes. The town site was surveyed and subdivided, streets graded, concrete sidewalks laid, sewers constructed, a water system developed through artesian wells, and a pumping plant installed of sufficient capacity to supply water for factory, household and fire protection uses.
An inner harbor with a channel to deep water was dredged out and slips and wharves were constructed.
The Western Meat Company was organized and incorporated, and eighty acres of land fronting on the harbor w,-re conveyed by the land company to the meat company as a site for stock yards, abattoirs and a meat packing plant, as well as for sites for by-product factories, such as glue works, wool pullery, etc. On December 5. 1892 this company commenced business.
The first house in South San Francisco was built by John Nunn, in November 1891, at Grand and Cypress avenues. The same month W. J. Martin erected the second building in the town, which he used as a real estate office.
In April, 1892, W. J. Martin was appointed land agent for the South San Francisco Land and Improvement Company. Mr. Martin then began a ceaseless campaign for the industrial development of this city, which he has carried on with unflagging zeal and remarkable success from that day to this. Through his efforts, factory after factory has located here, until today a score of great manufacturing industries are in active operation, with an aggregate annual payroll of over one million dollars.
Beginning with the Western Meat Company in 1892, the following-named industries ‘have located and established plants in the factory district of this city, viz : The Western Meat Company, Steiger Terra Cotta and Pottery Company, the Baden Brick Company, the W. P. Fuller Paint Oil and Lead Company, the South San Francisco Lumber and Supply Company, The Corrugated Pipe Company, the Pacific Coast Steel Company, the Pacific Car and Equipment Company, the Federal Wireless Company, the Enterprise Foundry Company, the Meese-Gottfried Company (site only), the Schaw-Batcher Pipe Company, the American Marble and Mosaic Company, the Western Sand and Rock Company, the Erickson & Peterson Machine Shop Company, the. South City Printing Company, the Standard Oil Supply Company, the South San Francisco Water Works Company, the Prest-o-Lite Company, the Wihls Manufacturing Company, the Metallic Antimony Company, the Carson Chemical Company, the Union Ice Company, the Fuel Oil Supply Company, the Studebaker Service Company, the Union Stockyards Company, the South San Francisco Glue Works Company, the South San Francisco Wool Pullery Company, the South San Francisco Soap Works Company, the W. P. Fuller Varnish Works Company and the American Barium Company.
The only bonded indebtedness incurred is the $62,000 sewer bonds and a small additional sum still due on the second issue of schoolhouse bonds.
South San Francisco has cheap fuel oil, gas and electricity for power and light. It has a local supply of pure water, abundant for all uses. It has a belt line railroad covering its entire water front and manufacturing district, operated for the benefit of its factories and connecting them with the main line bay shore railroad.
Of its many operating industries, ten are rated at a million or more.
It receives and forwards annually more than half a billion pounds of freight over the Southern Pacific Railroad alone, which means an average of thirty-five carloads per day of twenty tons per car. This does not include the water and automobile truck freights.
It has a well organized, clean municipal government.
With all its improvements its tax rate is among the lowest of the cities of the state.
Over 50 per cent- of its dwelling houses are owned by the occupants, and of these nine-tenths are workingmen. It is best of all a “pay roll” city, where an average of $100,000 per month is paid out as wages every month of the year.
In 1908 the belt railroad was built, having a length of seven miles circling the water front, covering the factory district, and connecting at both ends of the half circle with the Southern Pacific Company’s railroad, but owned and controlled by the Land and Improvement Company.
On September 3, 1908, South San Francisco was incorporated as a city of the sixth class, and the following named citizens were chosen as city officials: Trustees Harry Edwards, Andrew Hynding. Thomas L. Hickey, Daniel McSweeney, and Herman Gaerdes; clerk, Thomas Mason; treasurer, C. L, Kaufmann, and marshal, Henry Kneese.
Since the incorporation of the city, there have been completed twenty-one miles of concrete sidewalks and eight and .one-half miles of paved streets.
The Bank of South San Francisco was incorporated and opened for business July 15, 1905, with a paid up capital of $50,000.
The electric railway from Holy Cross to the factory water front was completed in 1913.
South San Francisco has a fine hotel, Carnegie library, a progressive newspaper, a primary, grammar and high school, and a well equipped hospital. There are three churches, Grace Episcopal, Catholic and Methodist Episcopal Church.
There is a well organized Chamber of Commerce of which Mr. E. Woodman is the Secretary Manager. Much of the development of this part of the, a peninsula is due to the activity of this body.
South San Francisco is served by the Southern Pacific and the United Railroads. It is located 9 miles from the Southern Pacific’s Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco. The local railroad between South San Francisco and Holy Cross, connects with the United Railroads. The Bay Shore Highway from San Francisco, by way of Railroad Avenue and San Bruno Avenue, passes through South San Francisco, and connects with the State Highway at Uncle Tom’s Cabin in San Bruno.
The estimated population is 3,500.