Stanford University
Mapping the Law: The Evolution of Slaughterhouse Space, 1852-1870
Mapping the Law: The Evolution of Slaughterhouse Space, 1852-1870
Between 1852 and 1870, city and state laws established new and evolving zones for slaughterhouses and other noxious trades in San Francisco. This visualization offers a glimpse into that rapidly evolving landscape.

Mapping these laws shows a shift in thinking about zoning over these two decades. Early zoning efforts relied on a concept of “negative space” to protect certain downtown neighborhoods from slaughterhouses and other nuisances. Later regulations evolved to establish finite slaughterhouse zones in an effort to effect certain environmental and spatial relationships for slaughterhouses within the city limits, far from downtown.

After a flurry of changing zoning laws in the 1850s and 1860s, rules governing the location of slaughterhouses stabilized for more than a century after the creation of “Butchertown” in 1870. Slaughterhouses remained active in Butchertown until the 1970s.

Click through the dates below to see the shifting zoning laws for slaughterhouses in San Francisco.

For additional discussion, see our earlier publication, “Trail of Blood.”
Trail of Blood
Trail of Blood
Spatial History