Helen Wills Playground

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I was wondering what year the Spring Valley Playground at Broadway and Larkin was changed to the Helen Wills Playground. When Hank Luisetti grew up at 1160 Broadway in the 1920s, it was called Spring Valley Playground. What is the history of the name change? Why was it changed to Helen Wills (and not Luisetti)? Did she make some kind of donation? Helen Wills won Wimbledon 8 times. Her greatest rival was Helen Jacobs, who as a girl lived 10 blocks from this playground at the Colorado Apartments on Sutter Street. It has been written in a Sports Illustrated article (Ron Fimrite, January 1976) that Jacobs learned to play tennis on this playground before moving into Wills' former residence in Berkley in 1923.

I enclose an email response from the Honorable John Burton, who I believe is a member of your California State Assembly. He played at the playground but recalls that it was called Helen Wills Playground at that time.

Regards -- Philip Pallette

FROM John Burton--

I knew about Spring Valley but I did not go to Spring Valley (school) or play ball there, although I did play at Helen Wills playground. I am totally unaware that it was called Spring Valley playground.

Best of luck with your endeavors.

Peace and friendship,


-- Philip Pallette (philip38@bellatlantic.net), August 05, 2001


Helen Willis Playground appears on the San Francisco Property report of 1932. I find no record of Spring Valley Playground on this (or any other) block of the San Francisco Property Report.

However I am intrigued by your question. I assumed it was perfectly normal for a city to name a tennis court for a local Wimbelton winner.

I do have two questions, though. Who is Frank Luisetti and why would his name be appropriate to a San Francisco Tennis Court? Can't find any record of a Jacobs living at the Colorado in the 1920s. Am I looking for the correct name?

Thanks for your question

Kurt Iversen

-- Kurt Iversen (iversenk@aol.com), August 07, 2001.

Me no no

-- nichova Colana (fedofala@aol.com), February 25, 2004.

Kurt, Frank is Angelo "Hank" Luisetti, The inventor of the one-handed basketball shot, and basketball hall of famer, etc. Indeed, he grew up in San Francisco but I have to believe a local Wimbelton winner trumps a basketball player, besides the park was already named for Wills twenty years, or so, before Luisetti's fame.


-- will (willstaiger@yahoo.com), February 25, 2004.

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