Modern San Francisco may be known as a hub of progressive thought (the city has, since 1975, had a Commission on the Status of Women solely dedicated to advocating for gender balance), but that doesn’t change the fact that many of its landmarks and streets are named in celebration of men.
Only 27 percent of San Francisco streets honoring historical figures were named for women, according to a group of DDB interns who are looking to change the dialogue around those names just in time for Women’s Equality Day this Sunday.
The Ms. Representation Project, created by the agency network’s San Francisco interns, uses a simple technique to highlight the imbalance in street names. Interns spray-chalked “Ms.” in front of each street name written on the ground, and then created a website to teach locals and visitors alike about 14 women who deserve to be remembered.
For example, King Street may have been named for a former state senator, Thomas Butler King, but “Ms. King Street” becomes a tribute to San Franciscan jazz club owner and “Queen of Fillmore” Leola King.
And it turns out one of the city’s most famous streets, Haight, might actually have been named for a woman, despite many decades of assumption that it was named for one of two Henry Haights. As the Ms. Representation Project points out, local historian Angus MacFarlane has exhaustively documented the history of the Haight family in 19th Century San Francisco and determined that the street was named in honor of Weltha Haight, a longtime advocate for orphans.
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