Need information about controversial S.F. Dev. Agency's Justin Herman : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Justin Herman died in the early Seventies, had two daughters. Are they still in SF area? Are they alive?

Did he really run black people out of the Western Addition? How could it come to that? What were the reasons?

Was the displacement of blacks a template for other cities to follow suit?

Justin Herman Plaza is the monument to his achievements, can anyone list those? Any literature or Website that I may not have found?

Thanx for all info,


-- Larry Burt (, January 29, 2002


I was hoping someone else would answer and give a more accurate answer then I will give because I can only give you a general answer to this question since I can't stand politics and don't like to follow such trash and the people who are involved in such trash. However, I can and will give you the names of Justin Herman's daughters since I once met them at a party many years ago. Their names are Jane and Jennifer. And I don't know if they are still living but they should be if they are capable of living to 65 or 70 years of age which is about their age right now. Of course, a lot of the idiots who smoked back then never got past their 50s but I don't know if they were smokers or not. Now I'll try to explain this as best I can and you see if it makes any sense. Justin Herman was hired as executive director of the redevelopment agency in San Francisco in about 1960. Before he got there, the redevelopment agency was completely useless and hardly accomplished anything. Then John F. Kennedy was elected president and things started changing all over the country in every way. The Federal goverment under Kennedy and later Johnson had some kind of Urban Renewal program going in which they would fund cities to improve them.-- Now Justin Herman came to San Francisco straight out of Washington D.C. He had been a graduate of Harvard and it was said that Kennedy and Herman got along well. The Harvard boys were sticking together. And so Justin Herman managed to get a great deal of money from the Federal Government to help redevelop the city. And what redevelopment and renewal meant was that old run down areas of the city would be destroyed to make way for newer better buildings and highrises for the purpose of making it a better place to live. It was also supposed to set up housing for the poor as well. Many of the older run down buildings that the poor lived in were first taken over by the city and the city then paid those people what was supposed to be a fair price for their properties. It is actually against the law for the Government to scalp them for a cheaper price. The government is supposed to pay them a fair market value. Many renters were also forced out because the new buildings that they were replaced with had higher rent costs though a certain percentage of the new buildings and rentals were supposed to be set aside for low income families. That is not to mention that President Kennedy signed laws into effect that prohibited any kind of discrimination in housing that was funded by the Federal government. So that is why I don't really know the complete details of how black people were run out of the Western Addition. In fact, maybe it's my imagination but there sure seems to be a lot of blacks living in that neighborhood today.-- I don't have a list of Justin Herman's achievements but if you include the number of areas in the city that went through his Urban Renewal program then there were plenty of achievements if you consider those achievements. And like I say Justin Herman obtained the money from the government to back it up. Later on, the Nixon administration cut the funding but what else could you expect from a Republican. So I would like to see a lot more facts about the insinuation that Justin Herman ran the blacks out of the Western Addition because like I say there are numerous laws on the books that don't allow that kind of discrimination nor was it in any way the purpose of the Urban Renewal program to do that.

-- Harry Murphy (*), February 05, 2002.

Let me help you out, as an African American granddaughter of two couples ran out of the Fillmore. For one, when you decided not to "sell" your house to the city they declared it interment domain and took it for a dollar. Yes a dollar, no matter what you paid for it or how much it was worth, as you could imagine many African Americans had no where to go, because at that time the unwritten rule was for African Americans to stay in the Fillmore. There was not much travel to other neighborhoods remember were talking before as well as during the civil rights movement. Back to the point the Fillmore had the highest concentration of African Americans at that time and of course was the first neighborhood slated for "Urban Renewal" reminds me so much of Hunters Point and "gentrification" today. UMMM is history repeating itself? As for the African Americans you see in the Fillmore today that comparison is like saying, "We have damaged the Ozone layer but its still working?" These points had to made to broaden the discussion it's an ethnic thing but itís more of a class issue although not as many, but other ethnic groups were affect. The Fillmore then was Hunters Point today a thriving community of low- income people of color that were drastically altered by as you put it so eloquently big business and the good old boys connections!

-- Sherice (, November 20, 2003.

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