Yesterday’s blog post about an 1888 photograph of the intersection of Mission and Army (Cesar Chavez Blvd.) generated a lot of great comments… including a very geeky digression about the apartment building at 3365 Chavez, right next door to the Principality of Chicken John.
You can see the building above; it’s set back from the street, with an unusual, angled facade. The oddness is even more obvious from above:
Reader Jonathan seems to have solved the riddle. He writes:
Without doing more research, the diagonal building on Cesar Chavez you’re talking about (3365 Cesar Chavez) appears to have been moved onto the lot from across the street, presumably when Army Street was widened. If you take a look at the 1938 aerial, you’ll see an angled building on Capp across the street with two light wells in a nearly identical position, just reversed. Thus, when the building was moved, it was swung around 180 degrees so that the old south portion of the building (facing Army Street) became the new north portion. As large as that building is, they certainly moved larger.
To test this hypothesis, I merged a 1938 aerial photo with a 2012 Google Map image, and — by Jove! — the theory seems to check out!
Yes! Brilliant! So the mystery of the odd angle is solved. But why the deep setback from the street? Reader Jonathan again:
Why they placed it so deeply on the lot after moving it I can’t say, but a very logical guess is that they intended to build something else fronting on Cesar Chavez.
UPDATE: Reader Jonathan would like to revise this theory about the unusual setback at 3365 Cesar Chavez:
Now that I think more about it, they probably placed the building so deeply on the lot to allow for parking (rather than another building). Even in the 1940s parking was at a premium, and the building owner could have rented the spaces to tenants or others in the neighborhood.
Since the front of the building functions as a free-range parking lot to this very day, the latter theory certainly makes sense.