history of Cohen Place in the Tenderloin

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We are a non profit arts/cultural organization (509 Cultural Center/Luggage Store), and are doing a neighborhood beautification/improvement project in Cohen Place (on Ellis between Leavenworth and Hyde) in the Tenderloin.

We've tried to find out who/what the alley was named for-- history...etc.t (I found Cohen Place in a street directory dated 1910).

If you have any information or know how we might be able to find this, please advise and thank you very much!

-- laurie lazer (iaro@aol.com), November 04, 2001


Cohen place is already listed in the 1861 City Street Guide at


-- Bob Verbugge (bob_verbrugge@compuserve.com), November 05, 2001.

Quite a number of places or streets were named after bankers like A.P. Gianinni (a school). Alfred A. Cohen was a well known financier and banker who was so well trusted and respected that he was sometimes put in charge of receivership in bankruptcy cases like that of Adams and Company which was the biggest bank/express company in very early San Francisco history. What happened was that in 1855, one bank went bankrupt and that caused a panic run of withdrawal on all the banks. Adams and Company could not pay everyone back their deposits. So many banks went under. I don't know how much Cohen was involved in politics because he was a very low-key kind of person but he was on a small pox committee when San Francisco had an outbreak of the pox. His wife was also on a high society women's club called the Womens' Century Club and so of course they had always been close to the SF high society and elite. Alfred Cohen became a good friend and advisor to a famous SF banker named William Ralston and was the last one to see Ralston before Ralston committed suicide. And Ralston also has a street named after himself. Because of the influence a banker's money has on people, society and politics, it wasn't unusual for a banker like Alfred Cohen to have a street named after him.

-- Harry Murphy (harrymurphy@my-deja.com*), November 06, 2001.

Alfred A Cohen, was a lawyer and lived in Alameda at the Fernside Estate. He was born in 1829 and died in approx 1887. The Fernside estate is now the Fernside district in Alameda. The estate was divided and sold when his wife Emilie Gibbons died in 1924. He brought the first railroad to Alameda, Oakland and Hayward and also started the first ferry service from Alameda to San Francisco. The Cohen-Bray house in Oakland is a historic house that was a wedding gift given to Alfred H. Cohen (son of Alfred A. Cohen) and Emma Bray. www.cohen-brayhouse.info

-- Karin Sidwell (karinsidwell@yahoo.com), February 08, 2004.

Alfred A. Cohen is my great great grandfather. Born in London,he married Emilie Gibbons and they had seven children including son Alfred H. Cohen, who married Emma Bray. Together they had four children. One of them being Marjorie Bray Cohen (my grandmother) who married Donald Schma. Together they had six children. Jennifer Schma, Elizabeth Emily Schma (my mother), Sarah Schma, Katherine Schma, Peter Schma, and Doug Schma. A. A. Cohen had in 1863 established the first railroad and ferry system in Alameda County (these began service in 1864) and also served as chief attorney for the Central Pacific Railroad. He owned much of what is now called Fernside. He gave his son the Cohen/Bray House as a wedding present already filled with furniture that resides there to this day. Alfred died in 1887 and Emilie died in 1925.

-- Emelie Bray Rodriguez (danser813@aol.com), January 15, 2005.

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