Woody LaBounty: San Francisco History Guy

Who I am

I am the Executive Director of the Western Neighborhoods Project, which you can find at www.outsidelands.org. You may have heard of our massive historical photo project, OpenSFHistory.

I am also a writer, speaker, podcast host, and overall San Francisco history guy. I am a creative-in-residence at The Battery, and the conceiver and former co-producer of the annual San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint. I grew up in this cool gray city of love by the bay, and I try to find ways to use its beauty, character, and history to improve and strengthen communities. My real first name is Stephen, but most people call me Woody.

Sharer of stories

I tell stories, but I also try to publish and share the excellent work of others—anecdotes, personal tales, odd theories, confirmed rumors, and meticulously sourced histories.

My favorite topic is the history of western San Francisco, specifically the neighborhoods here in the "Outside Lands." Read about The Jets of Larsen Park, the Milk Punch Janitress of Laguna Honda, and the 1850s church that kept moving west.

I have family that arrived here in 1850 and ancestors who lost almost everything in the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. (The good news? My great-grandparents met and fell in love in a refugee camp.)

How I reach people

How Woody shares stories

I have researched and written planning documents adopted by the City of San Francisco, written and edited neighborhood history books, given presentations to audiences ranging from kindergartners to college students to senior citizens, and am the editor of Outside Lands magazine. I also have conducted many, many oral histories. Here are links to some of my work:


Carville-by-the-Sea: San Francisco's Streetcar Suburb
My book on an 1890s beachside community made of defunct transit cars. Reviews, notes, and purchasing information.

Ingleside Terraces: San Francisco's Racetrack to Residence Park
How a failed racetrack became one of San Francisco's finest master-planned neighborhoods, albeit with quirky touches. Right now, this book is out of print (the price of popularity...).

San Francisco's St. Francis Wood
Editor, researcher, and designer of this stunning book by Richard Brandi and Mark Citret.

Podcast: Outside Lands San Francisco

David Gallagher and I have been sharing west side history every week since January 2013. You can listen to the podcast on the Western Neighborhoods Project site or subscribe through iTunes.

Historic Context Statements Adopted by the City of San Francisco

Balboa Park Area Plan & Historic Resource Survey (contractor with TBA West)

San Francisco's Parkside District: 1905-1957 (coauthor with Richard Brandi)

San Francisco's Ocean View, Merced Heights, and Ingleside (OMI) Neighborhoods, 1862-1959 (coauthor with Richard Brandi)

Online Columns and Articles

"Before Now" at Ocean Beach Bulletin
Local history columns for news website, now defunct :(

Remembering the Elephants of San Francisco
Hoodline—San Francisco

Western Neighborhoods Project work
Profiles, long pieces, and sourced articles

Nice Compliments

I am a recipient of the Dr. Albert Shumate Memorial Award from the San Francisco History Association. The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society gave the Western Neighborhoods Project an award of merit in 2016, and SF Weekly called me the city's Best Amateur Historian:

The self-described "Big History Guy"—he is 6-foot-5—is the executive director of the Western Neighborhoods Project and the keeper of the mesmerizing outsidelands.org. If ever there were a more surefire way for a history-minded San Franciscan to blow an afternoon perusing old photos and reading insightful essays than visiting this site, we haven't found it yet. LaBounty is also the author of Carville-by-the-Sea, a history of the days when folks lived in former streetcars at the city's westernmost edge. This, too, is a splendid way to while away the day time-traveling to a bygone age when people had the time to while away the day.

Of course I'm not the best, but merely a person who likes to share the work of the great local historians: Richard Brandi, Marsha Fontes, John Freeman, David Gallagher, Angus Macfarlane, John Martini, Christine Miller, Lorri Ungaretti and many others.

More on Me (Fun Stuff)

I used to be a performer—juggler, clown, fire-eater, variety artist—and toured with circuses and the legendary Kloons on Ice. I'm married to Nancy Myrick, CNM, the greatest homebirth midwife in San Francisco, and our daughter Miranda is a fascinating young woman in her own right.

The Slinkey Family: A Victorian Melodrama
Stories and images from the always-interesting Slinkey side of my family.