Thursday, February 28, 2008

Late 1800's San Francisco Spite Fence

I have a thing for spite fence cases.  My Mom sent along a link to this 1902 story (with photos) about a great spite fence (40 feet tall!!!) in San Francisco's Nob Hill neighborhood.  As an added bonus for propertyprofs, the story involves a land assembly issue:  the spite fence was put up around a holdout.  Some excerpts:

The Yung lot is the only portion of the block bounded by California, Taylor, Sacramento and Jones streets which Charles Crocker was unable to secure, when he erected his mansion there. Nicholas Yung, who was in the undertaking business and who was comfortably fixed, although not wealthy, preferred to stay in his Nob hill home. He and his family enjoyed the view and the other advantages of the situation as much as did Crocker, and he saw no reason why he should trade his residence for some other property which Crocker offered him, and emigrate. Crocker was willing to give him $6000, but we would not sell, even when the blasting on the Crocker site sent rocks flying around his house and the grading left his place up in the air. Finally Crocker threatened to fence in the Yung home, and at last Yung said he would sell for $12,000. Crocker refused to pay that sum, and carried out his threat to put up the fence. Yung did not consider the price he asked exorbitant, it being said that Flood paid $25,000 for a similar lot when he wished to get a complete block on Nob Hill.  . . .

The fence cost about $3000, but Crocker was a millionaire and did not mind the expense, and he had the satisfaction of driving the Yung family away from their home. Their house was boxed up and the sunlight shut out, and Yung was compelled to move the dwelling to another lot which he owned on Broderick street. The tall fence destroyed the value of the Sacramento street lot, which for about a quarter of a century has remained unused and unsightly. . . .

Ben Barros

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