A hydrant at Hayes and Buchanan streets is believed to be the original fireplug credited with saving the Western Addition after the 1906 earthquake. (MIKE HENDRICKSON/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER

Humble fire hydrants to be honored with historic markers

‘The Little Giant’ and ‘The Silver Twins’ saved parts of The City during 1906 earthquake, fire

San Francisco’s Department of Public Works may soon install commemorative plaques to mark the sites of three historic fire hydrants credited with saving parts of The City.

The hydrants, located at 3899 20th St., the northwest corner of Hayes and Buchanan streets, and the northwest corner of Ellis Street and Van Ness Avenue were among the few to continue working during the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake.

Nicknamed “The Little Giant” and “The Silver Twins,” the hydrants prevented “the spread of fires from reaching the historic Mission District and the City’s western region,” according to a resolution approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee on June 10.

They are celebrated annually by San Francisco residents, who paint the hydrants and leave flowers on the anniversary of the 1906 fires. Mayor Joe Alioto also gave permission in the 1960s for The Little Giant to be painted gold to honor its extraordinary contribution to San Francisco and the Mission District.

Kyle Smeallie, an aide for Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, said that the resolution calls for adding “a plaque to each hydrant in order to tell the story of how [they] valiantly provided the emergency water supply to limit the damage caused by the 1906 fire.”

“We have a 70 percent chance of a major seismic event in San Francisco. Honoring these fire hydrants with commemorative plaques is good for education and history,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

The full board will vote on the resolution, which was introduced by Mandelman, on Tuesday.

-By Theophile Larcher, Special to the S.F. Examiner

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