The Polish Club of San Francisco is
located in a district rich with cultural diversity and historic
significance. It is located in the
Mission District of San Francisco -- originally the home of the Ohlone
the mid-19th Century came the great European and Asian immigrations. The mid-19th Century was marred by political
turmoil and great famines. Poland was
among the countries that suffered great political upheaval. The ancient state of Poland was
conquered and divided by three imperial powers—the Russian, Prussian, and
Austro-Hungarian (Austria) empires.
The national identity of Poles came under harsh attack by these
hostile imperial regimes, but Poles were unified by their belief in their
right to independence and freedom of worship and in their distinct identity
as a people with a common language and culture. Oppression and the difficulty of
maintaining Polish identity under hostile regimes led many Poles to seek
freedom and refuge outside their homeland.
Many settled in the United
the turn of the 20th Century, Polish immigration exploded. With imperial repression, land shortages,
religious repression and chronic unemployment making life more and more
unbearable for the Poles of Europe, they left for America by the thousands and
hundreds of thousands. By the mid to
late 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, the majority of
Polish immigrants who came to the USA settled in the eastern and mid-western
states but many ventured further west in search of opportunity.
After the great 1906 fire and earthquake in San Francisco, many
of the City's displaced businesses and residents moved to the Mission
District, making the Mission Street a major ethnic commercial thoroughfare --
a characteristic it retains to this day.
Some of the Mission District was saved from the 1906 conflagration by
a fire hydrant known today as “the little giant” – water from which is
credited with stopping the 1906 fire from thoroughly destroying the Mission district.
One building saved from the conflagration
was the local Baptist church located at 22nd and Shotwell Streets that later
became the Polish Club.
The oldest San Francisco Polish society, founded in 1863
by Rudolf Korwin Piotrowski and Kazimierz Bielawski, known as the Polish
Society of California, rented office space at 273 Golden Gate Avenue
in a building that no longer exists.
The Polish St. Stanislaus Benevolent Society, founded in 1889 in San Francisco, held its
meetings at St. Boniface Catholic Church, established as a place of
worship by the local German community.
The Polish Community in San
Francisco, seeing the great necessity to establish a
meeting place of their own for social events and for the preservation of
their culture and language, began to look for a permanent meeting place. The result of their collective efforts is
today’s Polish Club at 3040 22nd
St. in San
Francisco’s Mission District.
More about the Polish Club │Polish
Club Anniversary Booklet 2006 │Historic Newspaper Articles & Photos