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Sitting Pretty in Daly City: A Driving Tour of Post-War Community Development

  • Doelger Senior Center (map)
Historic photo of mid-century Daly City California

Sitting Pretty in Daly City: A Driving Tour of Post-War Community Development


The end of the Second World War was a pivotal point in the modern history of Daly City. In 1945, San Francisco developer Henry Doelger purchased 1,350 acres of pig farms and cabbage patches from Spring Valley Water Company. Turning a deaf ear to real estate agents who advised against building housing so far away from downtown San Francisco in the "Fog Gap," Doelger saw opportunity.

Henry and his brother John, armed with the motto of "Come and help me build a city" began building a huge subdivision they called Westlake on the bleak bluffs overlooking the Pacific. Begun In 1948 and not completed until 1962, Westlake was one of the largest private housing developments in California in the 1950s. Doelger also built the infrastructure to service Westlake, including a community center and shopping center. Although derided over the years, along with the rest of Daly City's post-war development, as "little boxes of ticky tack," Westlake displays a higher level of design than was typically available in the Post-war suburbs of the merchant builders.

Join the Northern California Chapter of Docomomo US on a driving tour of Daly City, including the houses of Westlake and several mid-century schools by Mario Ciampi. A short lecture will be given at the start of the tour, and attendees will stop at multiple points during the driving tour. The tour will end in Pacifica, with an optional group lunch gathering at the Sea Bowl. Vintage cars welcomed.

Start Address: Doelger Senior Center, 101 Lake Merced Blvd, Daly City

Rides available to and from BART or MUNI with advance RSVP to

Cost: Free for members of Docomomo US, $10 for the general public