Some now and thens along #30

Well, yesterday was the last day of summer. Or is it today? It didn’t seem like much of a summer; I did make it to Disneyland, the Alameda County Fair was back, and I did take a lot of pictures around San Francisco. However, I spent most of my summer evenings at home, drinking beer and watching reruns of ‘Gunsmoke’. Wait a minute, it was a great summer! On the Sunday before Labor Day, I took an F Line streetcar (which was standing room only) to Fisherman’s Wharf, and took the Number 30 Muni Line along Stockton Street back to avoid the crowds. I got a window seat, and took some pictures of cross streets along the way back to Market Street. Later, I tried to find vintage pictures that closely matched the ones I took. Now and thens are a lot more difficult than then and nows for getting comparison pictures and they seldom line up perfectly, but there’s no better site on the internet to find pictures that match-up than

Broadway at Stockton Street in 1969: I was relatively close to where the older picture was taken, although a little further back, but I got a closer image of the Bay Bridge.

Looking down Clay Street from Stockton at the ruins of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake:

Looking down Post Street from Stockton toward Market Street in 1911:

Maiden Lane from Stockton Street in 1949: The Union Square Lounge, on the right in the vintage photo, was a favorite watering hole in the area for many years, and was seen in a number of films, such as ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’. The original entrance door to the Union Square Lounge can still be seen today in Maiden Lane behind a metal gate.


Looking down Geary from Stockton Street toward Market Street in 1912: You can see the Palace Hotel in the far background in both pictures.


Looking down O’Farrell Street toward Market in 1906; just after the earthquake and before the fire destroyed almost all of this area: The Call Building, now remodeled and called the Central Tower, survived the 1906 disaster and is at right center in both pictures.


Here, the #30 crosses Market Street from Stockton to 4th Street, and is where I got off the bus. The vintage picture from 1909 lines up pretty good with the shot I took through the bus window, and a lot of the buildings seen in the old photo, such as the Phelan Building, the Gothic Mutual Savings Bank Building, and the Call Building can still be seen.








A tour guide par excellence

And who better? Somewhere along the way, and I can’t remember when or where, I came across an autographed copy of ‘Herb Caen’s New Guide to San Francisco’, originally published in 1957. If you could go back into time, it would be about the best tour book you could find. It’s still a wonderful guide, but a lot of it now is nostalgia. It covers mostly San Francisco, but the updated 1958 publication includes a little of other locations in the Bay Area. The drawings throughout the book by Earl Trollander are all San Francisco locations, and I updated a few of them with photographs to match the drawings as closely as I could. I’ll include some of the descriptive passages by, also columnist par excellence, Herb Caen, in brackets. (Thumbnail images)

The Ferry Building and Bay Bridge from Telegraph Hill: {Turn left on Columbus to Lombard Street, then turn right and follow it up Telegraph Hill to Coit Memorial Tower, where you may park (if you’re lucky) and drink in one of the world’s great views – an overwhelming panorama of bridges, Bay, ocean, mountains, and. of course, Alcatraz, the prison island.}

Union Square, looking toward the Dewey Monument: {If you pick this as your jumping-off place for strolling and shopping, you might start with a look around Union Square itself. (“What a town,” jazzist Dizzy Gillespie once observed. “They even have a union for squares!”) The origin of the name is officially unknown, but the strongest theory has it that Union supporters rallied there during the Civil War.}

Looking across Washington Square from Columbus Avenue and Union Street: {This is in North Beach, which isn’t a beach, isn’t on Washington Street, isn’t a square, and doesn’t contain a statue of Washington but of Benjamin Franklin.}

Old St. Mary’s Church in Chinatown, from Quincy Alley: I had to take my picture closer to California Street in order to get most of Old St. May’s in because of the newer building on the left in the alley today. {Drive down California to Grant Avenue, turn left (past Old St. Mary’s Church, over one hundred years old) – and you’re in Chinatown, with its ornate lampposts, its bazaars, its tinkling Oriental sounds.}

Commercial Street, looking toward the Ferry Building: {Walking along Grant Avenue in Chinatown, you may glance down an alley called Commercial Street, and see, to your surprise, the Ferry Building, standing sentinel-straight on the Embarcadero. For tiny Commercial and mighty Market streets have one thing in common: they are the only streets you can look straight down – and see the Ferry Building.}

Market, Kearny and Third Streets, with Lotta’s Fountain on the left, looking toward the Hearst Building: Lotta’s Fountain was much taller in 1958. {San Francisco has a horrific traffic problem, especially in the tightly knit downtown area, where the main street, Market, slashes diagonally from the Ferry Building to Twin Peaks, making virtual dead ends of most of the other arteries. Watch out for Market. It’s a tricky devil, jammed with streetcars, busses, traffic islands, cops, and more “No Left Turn,” No Right Turn,” “No-“ this and No-“ that signs than you thought ever existed.}

Fred Lyon

Remembering Fred Lyon, the master photographer who died last month: I get a kick out of duplicating his picture locations, but you can sure tell who the artist was. (Thumbnail images)

The old Jones Street cable car line at Jones and O’Farrell Streets in the Tenderloin:

The Filbert Street drop, between Hyde and Leavenworth:

Green Street in North Beach:

The traditional telephone booth next to Old St. Mary’s in Chinatown:

Mason Street, next to the Mark Hopkins Hotel:

The Filbert Street Steps on Telegraph Hill:







Hit and Miss

These are a few updates of vintage San Francisco pictures that I took during the last two weeks of August, A “Hit” is a comparison where I’m satisfied that I got the best result I was able to achieve for an accurate line up. A “Miss” is a picture that, for some reason or another, didn’t turn out the way I hoped it would. (Thumbnail images)

Hit. Looking up Powell Street from O’Farrell in 1936: This one turned out about as accurate on the location as any of the comparison pictures that I’ve done in the past. (SFMTA/San Francisco Picture Blog)

Miss. Ellis Street, looking toward Powell in 1914: The Building at the far right in the vintage photo has been demolished and is now where Cyril Magnin Street is today. I took my picture just past Cyril Magnin Street, but I should have been a little further back. Also, it’s a little blurry. (SFMTA/San Francisco Picture Blog)

Hit: Turk, Mason and Market Streets in 1945. I got a pretty good line up on this one. The Admission Day Monument in the vintage photo, placed at this intersection in 1897, is now at Market and Montgomery Streets. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

Miss: The Powell Street cable car turnaround at Market Street. I was trying to duplicate a wide-angle picture from photographer Gene Wright from the late 1950s with the panoramic option on my iPhone. I got the line up pretty good with the Number One Powell Building on the left and the Flood Building on the right, so this could also be a Hit, However, I didn’t get the fisheye lens effect in Gene Wright’s photo.

Hit: Union Square in the 1950s: I did the best I could with my iphone panorama option to duplicate another one of Gene Wright’s wide-angle pictures, and I’m happy with it.

Miss: Continuing in my attempt to duplicate some of Gene Wright’s wide-angle pictures with the panorama option on my iPhone, I headed over to California Street, just up from Grant Avenue, where this 1950s photo was taken. Either I did something wrong, or the people on that cable car should have only had to pay half price!

Reservoir Park, or whatever it’s called

I finally got a chance last Sunday to check out the new park they built this year where the old Russian Hill Reservoir at Hyde and Bay Streets used to be. It’s kind of out of the way and not that easy to get to, even with public transportation, but it’s got great views, and it’s better than that ugly reservoir that’s been there for over a hundred years. (Thumbnail images)

You can see the concrete from the reservoir from Hyde Street on the left in both pictures from an update that I did in March of 2020.

Because the park was built on the side of a steep hill, there’s a winding walking path that takes you from the bottom of the park to the main area at the top. That’s the Ghirardelli Square Tower under construction on the left.

In 2021, I matched up an photo of an old photo from Larkin Street with the construction of the new park that would open in 2022.

Last Sunday, I did another update of the previous photos of the old reservoir under construction in 1919 with the new park looking toward Hyde Street. The famous Chateau Building at Francisco and Hyde Streets is still there. That tent was just a young couple with babies enjoying the new park for the day, and not the beginning of a homeless encampment. (

The old stairway that leads from the park up to Larkin and Francisco Streets in 1916: (

At the top of the stairs in the previous picture is sacred movie ground. This was one of the locations of the famous car chase scene with Steve McQueen’s Mustang chasing the Charger in ‘Bullitt’.


The view of the area from Bay and Larkin Streets in 1915 before the reservoir and park were built: (








“Who knows where the time goes?”

I kept, and still do keep, special days that I want to remember in my office appointment book. August 16th  2002, I took the kids to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf on the F Line. Yesterday, I went to Pier 39 to find some of the spots where I took pictures of them that day. The three kids have grown up and moved away now. I felt lonely, and wished that I could make spaghetti for them, like I’m sure that I did when we got home in 2002. They all FaceTimed me yesterday and said they wished I could make them spaghetti for dinner too, and I didn’t feel lonely anymore. (Thumbnail images)

San Francisco, after and before

These are reverse then and nows; backdates not updates. The modern pictures are photos that I took around San Francisco. Sometimes when I find vintage San Francisco pictures on the internet, I try to match them up to photos that I have in my collection. They don’t line up perfectly, but they’re a reasonable facsimile. Also, they’re fun to do; sort of my own private scavenger hunts. (Thumbnail images)

This is a picture I took in May of 2022 on the Jeremiah O’Brien Memorial Cruise, looking toward the SF skyline. The older photo is from the 1970s. The old sailing ship, the Balclutha, was still moored at Pier 43 then. (

Looking down to the Great Highway from Sutro Heights from a picture I took in 2018 and during the 1970s. The tide was definitely out in my picture. (


The Sing Chong Building and Old St. Mary’s Church in Chinatown: No guesswork needed on when the old picture was taken. (


I took my photo from the back of an old streetcar, looking west on Market Street near 2nd. The vintage picture is near the same spot in 1956. The Call Building, (Central Tower) the Palace Hotel, and the Humboldt are on the left in both pictures. (

Also in May of 2022, I took this skyline picture from the new Treasure Island Ferry Service. It lines up pretty good with the picture taken during the 1970s. (

In October of 2014, the San Francisco Giants were in the World Series, although, the issue hadn’t been decided yet, and my niece, on a visit from Texas, wanted to see Candlestick Park. We drove around it, took a few pictures, and it was the last time I ever saw the ballpark. They started to demolish it shortly after our visit. My picture isn’t a very good one, but neither is the one from 1966. (

San Francisco in the 1920s

They call the decade the “Roaring Twenties”. What we’re going through now are the Boring Twenties. These are updates of a few photos taken around San Francisco locations during the 1920s. (Thumbnail images)

Market Street near 4th: Some of those buildings in the old picture are still around, like the Phelan Building in the center and the Humboldt Building on the right, among others. (

Market Street at Powell Street: The Flood Building is on the left, and the old Emporium Building, now Bloomingdale’s is on the right. On the far left in the updated picture is Hallidie Plaza. (

Ah, the Cliff House. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

The old YMCA Building on the Embarcadero: Eli Wallach, “Dancer”, made his first kill here in the 1958 film, ‘Lineup’, one of my favorite San Francisco noir movies. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

Market Street at Turk and Mason: The picture is dated 1922, but I’m not sure that’s accurate; no matter where I stood, I could not get an angle that didn’t include the white Number One Powell Street Building, built in 1920, that’s between the Mechanic’s Savings Bank Building at Mason Street and the Flood Building at Market Powell Streets. (SF Gate, San Francisco Chronicle)

The east side of Lafayette Park at Clay Street: Some of the best photographs of San Francisco during the 1920s are from the Shorpy Photo Archive.

The Spreckels Mansion at Washington and Octavia Streets: You can barely see the mansion today because of the bushes they’ve grown around the building.

‘This is San Francisco’

Sometimes, it’s just a big cartoon city for kids. (Thumbnail images)


They say the Cliff House is going to reopen later this year, but it won’t be called the Cliff House.

They view of Seal Rocks from behind the Cliff House:

The view from Coit Tower: Columbus is on the outs now because he may or may not have massacred Native Americans, but I’m still glad we have him to thank for the spaghetti and pizza in North Beach.

Alioto’s and Fishermen’s Grotto #9 Restaurants in Fisherman’s Wharf; both gone forever now:

A cable car slides down California Street on Nob Hill:



I don’t think I like the looks of some of those people on the cable car in the bottom cartoon, especially that mean looking lady on the right!

The Sing Chong Building and Old St. Mary’s on Grant Avenue and California Street in Chinatown:

The place where the traditional telephone booth used to be on the side of Old St. Mary’s Church in Chinatown:

The old streetcars that were relatively modern when the 1962 cartoon was drawn only go up to number 1080 nowadays. How dare that strikingly attractive girl on the bike get in my picture!