Mary Ellen Pleasant Memorial Park
Lower Pac Heights
It’s said that Mary Ellen Pleasant, the mother of civil rights in California and a general badass, haunts the tall eucalyptus tree she planted at 1661 Octavia St (the site of her former property). Known as Mistress Pleasant, she was born into slavery in Augusta, Georgia in 1814 and later studied under Marie Laveau, famous “Voodoo Queen” of New Orleans. She was very good at acquiring information about the powerful, corrupt, and elite in NOLA, and she used that information to do good. Pleasant brought those same tactics to San Francisco, where she freed slaves through the Underground Railroad between 1850 to 1865, ran multiple businesses, owned a large swath of property on Octavia between Bush and Sutter Streets, and was worth a cool $30 million.
Pleasant’s enemies tried to frame her for the death of her long-time partner and lover, Thomas Bell. A lengthy court battle would lead to Mary’s downfall, losing everything she had spent a lifetime building. Although Mistress Pleasant died in poverty in 1904, she never left her swanky Lower Pac Heights digs. In the middle of night, dogs freak out when being walked by the trees, and some people get whacked on the back of the head with acorns when no else is around. If it happens to you don’t worry, she’s just playing...