There has been a Basque community in San Francisco since the early days of the gold rush and by the 20th century this community's activities were centered in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. Basques would come together to watch pilota games on Broadway Street at Helen Willis Playground, followed by sharing lunchtime meals, playing music, and enjoying conversation at local Basque restaurants.
In 1979 the building that served to support the pilota court was demolished, which left the Basque community without a place to play pilota. This motivated certain members of the Basque community to form a committee whose focus would be finding a new location in which to play pilota.
This led to the creation of the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco. The grand opening took place in 1982 and it was received with excitement, pride, and hope by the Basque community. There were 378 founding members, and today the Basque Cultural Center has just over 500 members, a demonstration of our community's strength, determination, and influence. We are proud of our history in the Bay Area and the leadership that previous generations of Basques took to get us to where we are today.
For more about the early history of the center click here