Another one of those “different” tours of mine

“Get your walking shoes on, folks. Today we’re going to take a tour that travels through and skirts along the edge of the Tenderloin.”

TourMasonuseWe’ll start at the corner of Turk and Mason Streets; and where else could you hope for a tour to start? The vintage picture is from 1955. All vintage pictures in this post are from the San Francisco Pictures blog and the SFMTA Photo Archives. In the far back is Nob Hill with the Mark Hopkins Hotel, looking like another world from where we’re at.  We’ll pass the vagrants on the Turk Street sidewalks as quietly as possible and head over to Turk and Leavenworth Streets.

TourTurkLeavenuseTurk and Leavenworth Streets in the heart of the Tenderloin, seen in the vintage photo in 1962: I got you into this and I’ll get you out. We’ll walk two blocks west on Turk to Larkin Streets and catch Muni #19 to Sutter Street. Unfortunately, it will be two of the most uncomfortable blocks you’ll ever experience in San Francisco.

TourSutterPolk1931useSutter Street at Polk Street looking east in 1931: From here on in you’re going to find that a remarkable number of buildings in the vintage pictures are still around.

TourSutterLarkinuseOne block east of the previous picture at Sutter and Larkin Streets, seen in 1931: They were doing a lot of work on Sutter Street that year.

TourJonesGearyuseWe’ll move over to Geary Blvd. at Jones Street, seen in 1957. Geary Blvd. used to be considered the northern border of the Tenderloin, but I don’t know if that’s accurate anymore. They’re still selling Mexican food and booze in the same two places they were in 1957.

TourTaylorPostuseOne block east and one block north and we’re at Taylor and Post Streets looking south down Taylor. The vintage picture is from 1937

TourSutterTayloruseWe’ll continue north up Taylor Street to Sutter Street looking east in 1931.

TourSutterPowelluseFrom the Taylor and Sutter Street intersection we’ll head two blocks east to Sutter and Powell Streets, looking east down Sutter in 1931: When you get to here you’re out of the Tenderloin, but you’ll often think back about that area with a definite…… viewpoint. On the right in both photos is the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, and at left center is the 450 Sutter Building.

TourPostuseWe’ll be closing the tour at Union Square. This is the northeast corner of the Square at Post and Stockton Streets in 1940. That’s some pretty antiquated construction equipment those guys are using.

TourGearyStocktonuseThis is at the southeast corner of Union Square looking down Geary Blvd. toward Market Street in 1951. Ah, the City of Paris Department Store; what a wonderful place that was until it was demolished in 1979. The Neiman Marcus Department Store is there now. This area is going to be ground central for “Black Friday” in less than two weeks. I’ve covered that hectic day for the past few years in posts on my blog, but I think this year I’ll just stay home and watch ‘Miracle on 34th Street’. If you enjoyed the tour, please be sure not to tell your friends; I don’t want to go through that again!









“The shadows follow me”

That’s a line from a song written by Don McLean of ‘American Pie’ fame called ‘And I Love You So’. The November shadows certainly did seem to follow me around on the little trek through Downtown San Francisco I took yesterday. The vintage pictures are from a blog succinctly called ‘San Francisco Pictures’. The blog has many terrific vintage pictures of San Francisco, but the site doesn’t identify who the collector is.

ShadowsMarketKearnyuseI started out at Kearny and Market Streets looking west along Market Street to update a photo taken in 1971.

ShadowMarketStuseI headed west on Market Street on block to Grant Ave to get this comparison from 1970 looking up Market Street towards Stockton. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

ShadowSutteruseI doubled back to Kearny Street and walked two blocks to the corner of Kearny and Sutter Streets looking west along Sutter. The vintage picture is from 1958.

ShadowsCTownuseFrom Kearny I headed over to Powell and Bush Streets by way of the Stockton Tunnel steps. I passed Burritt Alley, where Miles Archer was “done in” by Brigid O’Shaughnessy, for another breakfast at Roxanne’s Café, and headed back down Bush Street to get my obligatory Chinatown picture. The vintage picture is at California Street and Grant Avenue in 1959.

ShadowsPowellOFarrelluseThe shadows were still following me, so I snapped one more picture at O’Farrell and Powell Streets before heading back to the office. The vintage picture was taken in 1967. On the building just to the right of the front of the cable car in the 1967 photo, although difficult to read, is the entrance sign to Tad’s Steak House, another place on Powell Street I like to stop regularly for breakfast or burgers. After some 67 years at this location, Tad’s closed in October of this year and will be relocating around the corner on Ellis Street, although I’m not sure where or when. That left a cloud over me too.









Looking for parking in the City

Even more frustrating than driving around San Francisco sometimes is parking in San Francisco most of the time. These are a collection of pictures pertaining to parking around Downtown San Francisco.

ParkOFarrelluseThere are all kinds of driving infractions taking place at the Mason and O’Farrell Streets Garage in 1973; gird locking, signal jumping, near collisions, and probably a lot of honking. (San Francisco Pictures)

ParkingPowelluseParking anywhere along Powell Street south of Nob Hill, seen in the vintage picture from 1958, is only a memory today. (Pinterest)

ParkMasonuseMason and Pine Streets, down from the Mark Hopkins Hotel, in 1964: There were still a few parking spots available here on Mason Street back then. KYA Radio brings back memories of when I was a kid in the 1960s. I’ll bet I heard my first Beatles song on KYA. (San Francisco Pictures)

ParkUSquareuseUnion Square with its parking garage under the Square seen in 1980 from Geary Blvd.:  I’ve never parked in the Union Square Garage. Herb Caen used to say that people who try parking there during a busy day in Downtown San Francisco are a “Sorry / full lot”. (flickr)

ParkPineusePine Street east of Powell Street in 1982: This is probably not where you want to go to practice your parallel parking skills. (San Francisco Pictures)

ParkDiMaggiosuse“Excuse me. Can you tell me where DiMaggio’s Restaurant is?”

I guess “Joltin’ Joe” didn’t want anybody to have a hard time finding his place on Jefferson Street at Fisherman’s Wharf. DiMaggio’s, built in 1937, was where the Supreme Crab is today. The DiMaggio letters on the right in the vintage picture were above the entrance to the parking lot of his restaurant and were behind where the PARKING sign on the right in my picture is. My photo was taken this Sunday morning during today’s Veterans Day Parade along Jefferson Street. (ebay)

ParkDiMaggiolotuseTwenty years later, in 1957, the letters above the DiMaggio Restaurant parking lot were still there, and can be seen in a 1957 episode of the television show ‘Harbor Command’. Here, a thug “on the spot” is trying to hide from the bad guys in the DiMaggio parking lot. The scene is looking across Jefferson Street toward the Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon. DiMaggio’s parking lot, seen in the bottom picture, is still there but blocked from Jefferson Street by buildings now.

ParkPier45useParking in Fisherman’s Wharf can often be an expensive nightmare unless you have connections. I don’t have the clout of San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed, but I have a brother who works on the World War Two Liberty Ship, the Jeremiah O’Brien, and when I go to the Wharf I can usually get a pass to park in Pier 45 where the ship is berthed. That came in handy today to view the 2019 Veterans Day Parade. The vintage picture is Pier 45 in 1960. (

ParkPier452useBuilt in 1926, Pier 45 with its two sheds was the largest pier in the world when it was built. Commandeered by the army during World War Two for moving troops to the Pacific Theater of fighting, Pier 45 is indeed historic. Two survivors of World War Two, the Liberty Ship the SS Jeremiah O’Brien and the submarine the USS Pampanito are berthed here.









Segue to November and football weather

I seem to be weaving a weather pattern lately. It’s probably a lack of imagination on my part, but it allows me to post a number of unrelated pictures and categorize them all under a weather theme. With college football games every Saturday in November and NFL football games on Sundays, and with work piling up in the office during the week, it might be difficult for me to get away to do some picture taking as often as I’d like to. I snuck over yesterday, the first Sunday of November, and took a walk from Nob Hill through Chinatown to get these pictures. After a late breakfast at Roxanne’s Café on Powell Street, I still made it back for some afternoon and evening football games.

NovCalifPowelluseA wonderful picture looking down California Street from above Powell Street during the 1940s: Ah, look at the old cable car signal box and the Crest Garage on the right in the old photo. The Crest Garage Building was demolished at the beginning of 2018. (Ebay)

NovCrestuseI probably should have left this one out, mine wasn’t a very good picture, but what the heck; the vintage one is a picture of the old Crest Garage during the 1960s when it was called Rolls Garage. All that’s left of the Crest Garage right now is scaffolding around a building going up and portable bathrooms. (Vintage Everyday)

NovPineuseA foggy Fred Lyon gem looking toward Grant Avenue from Pine Street during the 1950s:

NovStMaryuseIn my last post I showed a picture of two ladies from the late 1950s making a telephone call from a phone booth next to Old St. Mary’s Church that was designed to look like a telephone booth in Chinatown should look. This picture taken in the early 1960s is the only other picture I’ve seen yet of that old telephone booth with the red roof on the far right. The telephone booth was just behind where the cement potted tree is in my picture.

NovCTownuseLooking north on Grant Avenue from Sacramento Street in 1958: I’ve seen pictures of that Bakery sign in the center of both pictures that go back to World War Two, and it still lights up in neon at night. (

NocClayuseI’ve written in the past that this blog isn’t about my pictures, but the vintage photos. I don’t pretend that any of my pictures have any lasting quality, but a picture like this one from by Fred Lyon taken during the 1940s certainly does. What I do take a small pride in is often being able to locate where vintage pictures were taken when the location isn’t described. However, probably anyone with any knowledge of San Francisco history might be able to track this spot down too. Bail Bond businesses were located all around the old Hall of Justice Building on Kearney Street like this one on Clay Street, just east of Kearny. The old Hall of Justice Building was demolished in 1967 for some stupid reason and a Hilton Hotel now occupies the spot. Films like ‘The Lady from Shanghai from 1947, ‘Impact’ from 1949, and ‘The Man Who Cheated Himself’ from 1950 filmed scenes at the old Hall, as well as television shows like ‘The Lineup’ and ‘Ironside’.








And Halloween weather in the ‘Noir City’

Windy and spooky! Most of the vintage pictures here were taken during the 1940s and 1950s from the rediscovered Life Magazine photographer Fred Lyon.

NoirmasonTurkuseMason Street at Turk in the 1950s:

NoirboothuseGrant Avenue, next to Old Saint Mary’s Church: Well, I hope that they got their Uber ride. Oh wait, Uber didn’t exist back then. The little Chinese telephone booth is gone now.

NoirKearnyuseKearny Street looking south in the 1950s: Fred Lyon’s picture here looks more like a painting.

NoirFairmontuseThe Fairmont Hotel looking north toward the Brocklebank Apartments:

NoirHuntingtonuseThe Huntington Hotel from Huntington Park minus the fog in my picture:

NoirCTownuseGrant Avenue in Chinatown looking north toward Sacramento Street:

NoirTopMarkuseA wonderful nighttime view looking east from the Top of the Mark long ago: (








October weather – 2019

I think I mentioned somewhere on my site that I spend more time in San Francisco during October and May than any other months. The weather is almost always comfortable even when it’s foggy, and there’s something special about San Francisco in those spring and autumn months. I took these pictures on October 16th, 19th, and 20th.

ClayPowellClay and Powell Streets in the 1970s: When those cable cars rattle by at a rocketing nine miles an hour, sometimes I just miss clicking the shutter for a perfect lineup with the vintage picture. (Lindsaybridge2)

PoolEnchantmentGolden Gate Park, looking southeast toward the Francis Scott Key Monument in the 1890s: “I see dead people.” (SF Chronicle)

GGPConcourseA lonely looking picture to me of a gentleman walking toward the Band Concourse in Golden Gate Park in the 1950s: They’re replanting some of the trees gone now. (SF Chronicle)

EmmetThe Robert Emmet Statue in Golden Gate Park, minus the Irish lass from the 1950s: That’s the old Academy of Sciences Building behind her, demolished in 2005. (SF Chronicle)

SpreckelsThis San Francisco Chronicle vintage picture taken May 24th 1954 doesn’t identify where this spot in Golden Gate Park was, but I think it was Spreckels Lake, and if so, this spot here. There’s two asphalt patches on the peninsula that may have been where the trees were back then. Besides, it looks like nobody ever came back to get one of the cars from the old picture still there in my shot! I should have cropped my picture more at the bottom to match the vintage photo but I didn’t want to cut out that gull doing a perfect belly flop.

Oct2019PowellusePowell Street between California and Sacramento Streets in the 1960s: (Marty Bernard)

Oct2019MLaneuseMaiden Lane from the old Stockton Street entrance to the Union Square Garage in the 1950s: I’ve been waiting a long time for them to clear the Stockton Street Muni construction so I could do this one. The Stockton Street garage entrance is gone now.  I’ll bet the girl in blue by the Maiden Lane gate was asking to the people approaching her, “Are you guys doing that Abby Road crosswalk thing for that guy up there taking the picture?” (Phil Palmer)







504With a number of earthquakes hitting the Bay Area recently, special attention was paid to the October 17th 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake anniversary yesterday. I myself decided to be at the exact same spot at the exact same time as I was when the earthquake struck; the Ginsberg’s Pub on Mason and Bay Streets. A lot of people will remember where they were that night, many with sadness over loved ones and friends lost, and although for me it was one of the greatest adventures of my life, it pales in comparison to what happened to them. Here’s my Loma Prieta Earthquake story: A friend of mine named Mike Shanley and I decided to go to Candlestick Park to try to buy tickets for the fourth game of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park. We hooked our bicycles to the back of a little four-wheeler I had at the time and headed to San Francisco. We drove through the lower portion of the Cypress Freeway to the Bay Bridge. The Cypress Structure collapse was what caused most of the deaths that day. We crossed the eastern cantilever span of the Bay Bridge and parked at Pier 48 near where Giants Stadium is today. From there, we rode out bikes down 3rd Street to Candlestick Park, but the scalpers wanted more money for tickets than we had, which wasn’t much in those days. I remember seeing the Oakland A’s team arriving at the park in a bus followed by Jose Canseco in a Porsche. I told Mike that I knew of a place up by Fisherman’s Wharf where we could watch the game comfortably, so we rode our bikes back up 3rd Street to the car, drove to Francisco Street where we parked the four-wheeler, and walked a block to Ginsberg’s Pub. We had just gotten a pitcher of beer and a hot dog each when at 5:04 the earthquake hit. I remember saying “I think this is the “big one” to Mike, in reference to the inevitable earthquake everyone in the Bay Area had been foretold was coming. (It wasn’t, and that one is still on the way) I actually felt more relieved than frightened because we were finally getting that one over with and nothing had fallen down on us. We stayed in the building until the shaking stopped, but some customers ran out outside, like they say you’re not supposed to do but what  I probably will do next time. When I walked outside the first thing I saw was a terrified dog running north on Mason toward the Bay, There was an eerie stillness, and when I looked toward Nob Hill I realized the power was out. We didn’t realize that the entire city of San Francisco and much of the Bay area was without power. All telephone lines were dead too. Mike and I had decided to get gas for the car after the game on the way home not before and that was a big mistake; we were near empty. We decided to risk crossing the Bay Bridge with what little gas we had. We got onto the Embarcadero Freeway, but when we approached the Ferry Building traffic came to a stop, and police were directing people away from the bridge. We headed south down Highway 101, but when we were near Candlestick Park I told Mike we were on empty and had to get some gas. We got off at the Paul Street exit and learned then that the power was off over the entire city and no gas was available. We got back on 101 heading south and decided to turn off at the San Francisco Airport before we ran out of gas. Although the airport was on backup electricity, all flights in and out of SFO were cancelled. Back then there was a grass embankment between in and out traffic to and from the airport terminals and I drove the four-wheeler up on the embankment. We made I sign that read, “Out of gas. Don’t tow” and walked into the airport terminal. It was there we learned that the Cypress Structure and part of the Bay Bridge had collapsed, and the Marina District was on fire. Also all bridges were shut down. We stayed at the airport and I kept trying to call my mom and dad who lived across the Bay in Castro Valley throughout the night, but telephone service where we were at was still down. Finally, at daylight, they announced that they were letting people across the Bay on the San Mateo Bridge, and Mike and I decided to once again drive as far as we could until we ran out of gas. There used to be a Chevron Station on the road leading out from the airport and they were on the same emergency power system as the airport apparently, because although all traffic had been diverted away from the airport, the gas pumps there were working and we were able to get gas. We crawled across the San Mateo Bridge along with other traffic, and when we reached the East Bay we found that telephone service was working there. I called my mom and dad to see if they were okay, and I can still hear my mom letting out her breath as if she had held it in all night saying, “Are you all right?” They hadn’t heard from me since the previous day and they knew I had gone to San Francisco. They feared the worst news that some other mothers did get that morning. Well, that’s my Loma Prieta Earthquake story. I kept that “Out of gas. Don’t tow” sign for years and years, but I couldn’t find it when I wanted to take a picture of it for this post. Like the Cypress Structure, the cantilever span of the Bay Bridge, Candlestick Park, the Embarcadero Freeway, Ginsberg’s Pub, and my mom and dad, that’s gone now too.

Intersection Ginsberg’s Pub closed a number of years after the Loma Prieta Earthquake, and remained empty for many years before it was demolished about two years ago. This picture at the top looks like it was taken from Google Maps.

MasonStThe Mason Street side of the pub where I stepped out and first noticed the extent of the disaster: (

InsideThis picture from is how I remember what Ginsberg’s Pub looked like inside. It’s also of interest to me because where the two people talking to the bartender on the left were was the exact spot Mike and I were sitting when the earthquake struck!

GE DIGITAL CAMERAI took this picture from my truck in 2013 on the last time that I crossed through the cantilever section of the Bay Bridge. The bridge was deemed unsafe because of the Loma Prieta Earthquake, but wasn’t replaced for over twenty four years. The picture isn’t the clearest, but if you look at the faded section of the roadway just before the cantilever starts, that’s the portion of the bridge that collapsed on October 17th 1989 killing two people.

EFreewayIn August of 1991 I took this slide picture of the Embarcadero Freeway being demolished. It closed days after the earthquake and never reopened.

CandelstickGone too is Candlestick Park, seen here just after it was demolished in 2015.