‘That ‘70s Post’

These 1970s updates are all from around Embarcadero Plaza, formerly known as Justin Herman Plaza. Most of the vintage pictures are from the San Francisco Public Library Archives. (Thumbnail images)

I headed north on Front Street from California Street to Maritime Plaza. I wanted to try to get a picture of a cable car passing the intersection of California and Front Streets like in the vintage picture, but my main interest was the Harrington’s Bar and Grill sign that was blocked by the crane from the spot in the older photo, so I had to get closer. The road work in both pictures was a nice touch though. Harrington’s closed in 2020 after 85 years in business.


Ladies leaving One Maritime Plaza, formerly known as the Alcoa Building: Everything is “formerly known as” around here.


The archway to the old Colombo Building at Sydney Walton Square, formerly known as the Produce District: Truck drivers would bring their vegetables and other products to this building, built in 1874, to be sold on the streets in this area. You can get a great look at the building and this district in the 1949 film ‘Thieves Highway’.


“The Streets of San Francisco, the television show that dares to use the Vaillancourt Fountain for a backdrop.” Vaillancourt Fountain was considered by many to be one of the ugliest public works in SF when it was completed in 1971, but I’ve always liked it.

The dedication of Vaillancourt Fountain with the Embarcadero Freeway in the background:

Boy, if you think the fountain is ugly from the front, you ought to see it from the back!

A 1970s gathering in Justin Herman Plaza: Poor girl, a simple operation to turn her head around would have given her a whole new outlook on life!

The Washington Street entrance and exit to the Embarcadero Freeway from the street ramp from One Maritime Plaza to Golden Gateway Center and Sydney Walton Square, all formerly known as….. Oh, never mind.











While we’re on the subject of the 1960s (or at least I still am)

I’ll finish up my updating of vintage pictures from the 1960s, some of them poor quality, that I found recently on the internet. I’ve been taking advantage of the most overcast May that I can remember. “May Gray”, or is it “May Grey”? Well anyway, gloomy weather can often make for better picture taking; cloudy days don’t throw unwanted shadows on your pictures.(Thumbnail images)

During the first week of May I took the Treasure Island Ferryboat from behind the Ferry Building out to the Island for the ride. This day was a lot sunnier than most of the days in May have been. When I got back to the office, I found a picture of the San Francisco skyline from 1963 that matches up almost perfectly with my 2023 photo here. The two buildings on the right in the old picture and, no longer visible, are the Shell Building and the Russ Building. A dark and sinister looking Ferry Building, wrapped in scaffolding for renovations right now, is at photo center. (opensfhistory.org)

On the 23rd I took BART to the Mission District, often an interesting experience, and took this update of the old Armory Building, built during World War I to house munitions for the war effort. (Vintage Everyday)


This 1960s photo of Mission Dolores makes a reasonable match up with a picture I took of the church awhile back. I don’t know if tour busses still go there in droves anymore since Junipero Serra has been under fire a lot for his treatment of Native Americans. Like Columbus, I also don’t know if the evidence against him is indisputable or not, but every historical figure gets villainized in San Francisco eventually, so enjoy the building for its architectural history. (Vintage Everyday)

On the 25th I took Muni #1 up to Nob Hill and headed down California Street to Chinatown. The cars and the monstrous Bank of America Building are about the only differences from this view. (Vintage Everyday)


I walked down to Old St. Mary’s Church at California Street and Grant Avenue. I’m not sure what the Flag was commemorating then, but it’s possible it may have been on a long-ago Memorial Day. (Vintage Everyday)


I like the color scheme of this vintage picture of the Conservatory Building in Golden Gate Park, which is probably known as ‘3D schéma de couleur’.


To start out the Memorial Day weekend, I headed back up to the top of Telegraph Hill on Saturday to update this picture of the Columbus Statue in front of Coit Tower, removed in 2020 before vandals tore it down. If you want to get mad about something, get mad about the fact that there is almost no view from here anymore because they won’t cut down the trees blocking the scenery. (Vintage Everyday)

At the bottom of Telegraph Hill, I took the F Line streetcar back along the Embarcadero to Market Street, just in time for the sun to come out. This photo from where California and Drumm Streets come in to Market, although poor quality, shows what looks to be scaffolding around the Ferry Building then, as well; although it may just be a double exposure.

Flatiron Flat-footing

Recently, there was an interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle by John King about various Flatiron Buildings around San Francisco. The three cornered buildings got their name because they resemble a clothes iron face down from above, and the most famous Flatiron is the Fuller Building on 5th Avenue in New York. The article had me looking back over my posts to see how many of the Flatirons mentioned in Mr. King’s article appear in some of the updates I’ve posted in the past. I’ll include the link to John King’s article at the end of my pictures. (Thumbnail images)


First is the Phelan Building at 760 Market Street in an update of a 1910 photo I did in September of 2016. The Phelan Building was built in 1908.

800 Market Street, built in 1908 as well, in an update of a 1942 photo I posted in February of 2022.

548 Market Street in an update I did in August of 2021 of a Minor White photograph. Like the Fuller Building in New York, this one, built in 1913, is called the Flatiron Building too.


This one on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Kearny Street wasn’t in John King’s article but it could have been. I couldn’t get a date on when it was built. You can see the old Finocchio’s in the vintage picture.

The last two are of probably the most popular Flatiron in San Francisco, the Sentinel Building, also known as Columbus Tower, opened in 1907. The top photo is from 1910, the bottom one from the early 1960s, is from the Cushman Collection. Below is the link to John King’s article in the Chronicle.


Out of focus in the 1960s (For the Maritime National Park crew at the Hyde Street Pier)

Well, maybe not out of focus, but the clarity of these vintage pictures from the Sixties could be a little sharper, They’re still interesting to look at though. (Thumbnail images)

The Hyde Street Pier: Love those sun glasses. “We mean no harm to your planet!” (Vintage Everyday)

The cable car turnaround at Bay and Taylor Streets: Cost Plus is gone now, (I loved that store) but the 76 Gas Station is still there. (blogspot.com)

The intersection of Jefferson and Taylor Streets at Fisherman’s Wharf sure has changed now. Parking 75 cents for 4 hours: What a rip off! (Vintage Everyday)

A Hyde Street cable car coming into Aquatic Park passed the old Cannery Building: Cable car tracks were realigned during the 1982 shutdown of the system and now enter and leave Aquatic Park from the corner of Beach and Hyde Streets. (Vintage Everyday)


Grant Avenue and Jackson Street: A “bug” following a “bug” in the vintage picture; sounds like all of the viruses that are appearing nowadays.

Looking down Washington Street between Stockton Street and Grant Avenue: The old Hall of Justice Building is in the background of the vintage picture. Also, on the left is the Golden Dragon Restaurant, the location of one of San Francisco’s worst massacres. On September 4th 1977, gang members stormed into the restaurant and opened fire with automatic weapons and rifles, killing five people and wounding eight others. The shootings stunned San Francisco, and restaurant reservations in Chinatown were cancelled “en masse”. All of the gang members who did the shootings have been released from prison now.

A street preacher at the Powell and Market Street turnaround: No meat, tea or coffee, among other things. How about adding NO STREET FENTANYL OR SMASH AND GRABS nowadays? Even the nuns seem to be getting a kick out of this guy. (Vintage Everyday)

The Merced Branch Library (For the Institute for Historical Study)


In 2020, I was accepted as a member of the Institute for Historical Study. In February of this year, I was proud to be elected as one of its Directors. Yesterday, IHS was part of ‘Open House Day’ at the Merced Branch Library. I’m glad our table was where the New Books are, rather than being under the Yesterday’s Classics sign. (Thumbnail images)

I found a few pictures from the San Francisco Public Library Archives of the inside of the Merced Branch Library before I went, looks like the 1960s. The library has been remodeled considerably since it opened in 1957.


This is the opposite view of the previous vintage picture. The girl with the blond hair behind the info counter got a kick out of the old pictures, and helped me get my line ups.

The library is on the corner of Winston Drive and 19th Avenue, across from the Stonestown Shopping Mall, seen in the vintage picture from the 1950s before the library was built. (opensfhistory.org)


This view is looking back across 19th Avenue to where the library is today from Stonestown in 1953, a year after the shopping center opened. (opensfhistory.org)


Looking northeast across 19th Avenue in 1945 before the Merced Branch Library was built: San Francisco State University is behind where I’m standing. The M Line still runs along here. (opensfhistory.org)






Russian Hill revisited, 2023

Rounding out my trilogy of San Francisco’s three most famous hills, I visited Russian Hill yesterday. (Thumbnail images)

I took Muni #45 up to Hyde Street, and walked one block north to Filbert Street, seen here in the 1920s. I’ve taken many visitors for a car ride down this portion of the block between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets. With the rollercoaster at Playland-at-the-Beach long gone, it’s one of the most thrilling rides in San Francisco now. (opensfhistory.org)

Looking down Hyde Street from Lombard at someone’s sweet mom, who I’m sure that by now is being lamented every year on her birthday by her children: “Gee, Tim, do you have to be so fatalistic?” (San Francisco Public Library Archives)


I tried numerous attempts with parked cars to redo this 1960s reverse image mirror view as a cable car crossing Hyde Street at Lombard without success; mainly because you’d probably have to be in the car with the side view mirror, and anyway I don’t know how it was done. (San Francisco Public Library Archives)

Cable cars passing the building that used to look like an Alpine tavern at Hyde and Francisco Streets, heading up to the top of Russian Hill: (ebay.com)

Kids watching a cable car pass by on Hyde Street in 1959: Down below them is the old Russian Hill Reservoir. In 2022, a new park opened up where the reservoir used to be. The old photo is on the Hyde Street Steps leading down to the park. In the far background is the Golden Gate Bridge.


I crossed over to Francisco Street and walked east to Leavenworth Street. The view of northeast San Francisco from the Leavenworth, Francisco Streets ramp is stunning! You can see, from left to right, all the way from Angel Island and Alcatraz to Coit Tower and Saints Peter and Paul Church in my panoramic picture. The vintage photo from opensfhistory.org is looking toward the same direction from a house on Francisco Street in 1934.


Before heading back to #45, I stopped at Leavenworth and Lombard Streets to get a picture looking back up what the used to call the “Crookedest Street in the World”. It’s not only not the crookedest street in the world, it’s not the crookedest street in San Francisco; Vermont Street on Potrero Hill is crookedester. The crowds are back here again, so I had to wait awhile to get a clear photo of the famous street. The vintage photo is from 1923. (opensfhistory.org)








Nob Hill revisited, 2023 (For Pouya)

Keeping with the theme of revisiting some of my favorite locations again for the first time in 2023, after hundreds of previous visits, I chugged up Nob Hill yesterday, or I should say, the cable car I took chugged up Nob Hill. (Thumbnail images)

Looking down California Street from Mason in 1963, based on the Marlon Brando film ‘The Ugly American playing at the Nob Hill Theater that used to be in the Fairmont Hotel: (San Francisco Public Library Archives)


Cable cars crossing California Street at Powell: You can see a little of the old Crest Garage, demolished in 2018 after surviving since the 1920s, on the right in the vintage photo. (San Francisco Public Library Archives)

Looking left to right at the Pacific Union Club, the Fairmont, Mark Hopkins, and Huntington Hotels, from Grace Cathedral with the Bank of America Building butting into the background of the modern picture. (ebay.com)

The Mark Hopkins Mansion on the corner of California and Mason Streets: Does anybody ever need a house that big? The mansion was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. (blogspot.com)

This was the western entrance to the Mark Hopkins mansion, or the western entrance to the west wing of the Hopkins mansion, or the western entrance to the west side of the west wing of the mansion. I’ll bet even Mark got confused. This is looking south down Mason Street from California, or looking south past the western entrance of the west wing of….. Oh, never mind. (San Francisco Public Library Archives)


Billy Preston going into the Mark Hopkins Hotel in the 1970s: I watched the Beatles ‘Get Back’ trilogy recently, in which Billy Preston appears in. At first, I thought how honored he must have felt to be performing with the Beatles, but after watching his keyboard sessions, I also thought about how honored the Beatles must have felt to have him join them. (San Francisco Public Library Archives)







The Wharf that was (and is)

I’ve been hearing stories about how dead Fisherman’s Wharf has become, so I headed over there late Sunday to see how bad it is. Like Mark Twain, reports of its death have been “greatly exaggerated”. Some of the restaurants are closed, but a lot of the nice ones are still open, and the springtime crowd was back to normal. I did see one homeless tent on Jefferson Street that doesn’t belong there anymore than it does on Main Street, Disneyland, but Fisherman’s Wharf is still the largest tourist attraction in San Francisco, and people were having fun. (Thumbnail images)

Jefferson and Taylor Streets; Alioto’s and #9 Fishermen’s Grotto are closed now and I didn’t stay as late in the afternoon as the 1940s photo, but I hung around for awhile. (San Francisco Public Library Archives)

The Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon in the 1960s; It wasn’t a bad attempt of “stuplicating” the old wide angle photo. (San Francisco Public Library Archives)

I always get a kick out of taking a picture across the Boat Lagoon at the same spot where my 17 year old mom took her photo looking across the tiny fishing boats they had back then toward DiMaggio’s Restaurant. This was before ‘Joltin’ Joe’s hitting streak and Marilyn Monroe.

But to me, what’s missing from Fisherman’s Wharf and great photo location spots like this, is the World War II Liberty Ship the Jeremiah O’Brien. I wish the crew all the luck with their move to Pier 35, but I wish the ship was still at Pier 45.

Pier 45, when the Jeremiah O’Brien was there, and last Sunday: Only the World War II submarine, the USS Pampanito, is there now, and that is a great attraction to tour, as well.

When I was up on Telegraph Hill last week, I took a picture of Fisherman’s Wharf through the unnecessarily high trees surrounding the Coit Tower parking lot. This is about the only spot you can see Fisherman’s Wharf from the parking lot anymore. When I was searching for Fisherman’s Wharf pictures on the San Francisco Library Archives site, I found this close lineup of the Wharf from the parking lot, taken probably during the 1960s.

Telegraph Hill revisited, 2023

Exploring Telegraph Hill is not for sissies; I’m reminded of that every time I forget that I’m not 25, 35 or even 45 anymore. With only one mode of public transportation climbing or descending the mountain, (well, let’s face it, that’s what it is) you’re going to do a lot of walking, much of it on hills or steps. So, the trick is to be heading downhill whenever possible. (Thumbnail images)


The easiest way to top of “owld Telygraft Hill” if you’re not driving, is to climb up the west side, courtesy of Muni #39, the only public bus that that goes to the top of the hill. I always enjoy the view of Saints Peter and Paul Church, Washington Square and Coit tower from Union Street and Columbus Avenue while I’m waiting for the bus, so I snapped a picture with my iPhone. When I got back to the office, I found a reasonable comparison photo from the 1930s from opensfhistory.org. The rest of the vintage pictures are from the San Francisco Public Library Archives.


The northwest view of the old balustrade railing from the Coit Tower steps during the 1930s: Those urns would be stolen overnight nowadays. I wanted to go to the top of the tower, but just like the last time I went up, the elevator was out of service. For the price of admission, they were offering visitors again yesterday the option of taking the stairs up again, but I did that last November and I’m still recovering.

Pioneer Park, from behind where Coit Tower is now, during probably the late 1920s: It’s impossible to be sure exactly where the girl was standing, but my guess is about here; the vintage picture is looking toward Kearny Street, and you can see the Call and Chronicle Buildings in the background. I’ll have to ask my friend, Tony, if it’s possible that the tree to the left of where the girl was facing the camera in the vintage picture, and on the right in my photo is the same tree.

I headed down the Filbert Steps to the old, and now closed, Shadows Restaurant. I was in there shortly before it closed and it was nearly empty and lonely, but what a view from the bar!


Here’s an earlier photo of the Shadows. There was obviously fire damage, but I don’t know the story.


This is as close as I can get to a line up to where these kids were playing on Montgomery Street before the steps were built here between Union and Green Streets in 1928. The round cornered building on the left can be seen through the trees in my picture; the building across Montgomery Street, right center, is still there, as well.

I continued down the Filbert Steps to the bottom.  In January, I decided to walk up to the top of the hill from these steps. I’m still recovering from that too. Heading down, I passed a fellow walking up with a tired looking little girl. I smiled at the kid and said, “Don’t worry, only about a million more steps to go!” He gave me an unfriendly look, and she looked worried, and asked the guy if they did have a million more steps to go. To soothe her I said, “Just kidding, you’re almost there.” which they weren’t. She’ll hate me for the rest of her life. This photo is looking back up the steps from Sansome Street.

Sansome Street at Filbert, looking south: Those buildings on top of Telegraph Hill on Alta Street are still there.

“Hey, you threw the football over the wall! Go get it.”











Easter Sunday Noir

With the extended tax season here in California, I thought things might slow down, but they haven’t. I just leave the office every night tired, and saying to myself over and over again, “Refund, good; balance due, not good.” Yesterday, though, I took a few hours off to go over to SF and update some nourish looking pictures taken along Market Street. It was a pretty and warm day, and people around town were enjoying themselves after that crazy winter. (Thumbnail images)

I started at Market and Powell Streets, looking across Market toward the old Emporium Store. The domed Humboldt Building is in the background.


The Powell Street cable car turnaround in the 1940s: This isn’t a bad line up, considering that the turntable isn’t in the same spot as it was back then.

I moved along Market Street to 4th to get this update. The old State Theater marquee is on the right.

Crossing over Market Street from 4th to Stockton Street, and a better look at where the State Theater was. The Call Building, now called the Central Tower, is in the background of both pictures:

The southwest corner of 3rd and Market Street, looking toward the old Chronicle Building:

“Now, I’m standing on the corner of Third and Market. I’m looking around. I’m figuring it out. There it is, right in front of me. The whole city, the whole world. People going by. They’re going somewhere. I don’t know where, but they’re going. I ain’t going anywhere.” – From the play ‘The Time of Your Life’ by William Saroyan.

I ended up near the Ferry Building, looking back up along Market Street. The Southern Pacific and Matson Shipping Buildings are on the left. On the right, the Hyatt Regency is now where the Terminal Hotel was.

“The Terminal Hotel. Once you stay with us, you’ll never leave.”