A city in motion, part two (Thumbnail images)

Motion on the Bay Bridge in the 1970s: I should have been one more lane over to the center, but I have two excuses; the truck in my picture would have blocked out the Bay Bridge towers. Also, I took my picture before I found the 70s picture, and it made a good match up.

People in motion at Market, Ellis, and Stockton Streets in 1947: No, it’s not your imagination; there definitely aren’t as many people in my picture at this corner as there was in the old photo. In fact, I’m not sure there were that many people in all of San Francisco on the day I took my picture! Both pictures are looking across Market Street to the old Pacific Building on Market Street and 4th, built in 1907. (SF Gate/San Francisco Chronicle)


The motion of mass transit; the Muni Metro Powell Station in the 1980s: The Muni Metro Subway System is another one of the things that “The city that knows how” gets an A+ on. (SFMTA Archives)

Traffic in motion near the Embarcadero Freeway entrance at Broadway and Sansome Street in the 1970s: I used this entrance often before it was demolished in 1991, and I have to admit that made getting to the Bay Bridge easier. However, that said, I don’t miss the Embarcadero Freeway one inkling. (Redditt)

The motion of a parade: “When Johnny comes marching home again. Hurrah! Hurrah!” Doughboys marching past 5th and Market Streets in 1918; back from the World War One battlegrounds of Europe: (SF Gate/San Francisco Chronicle)





The new Treasure Island Ferry Service

I should have posted this yesterday after I took the ride; it would be a great place to take your mom for lunch on Mother’s Day. They have a restaurant out there that gets favorable reviews called the Mersea Restaurant, which probably isn’t going to be crowded today. The fifteen minute boat ride cost five bucks out and five bucks back, and is well worth it with the spectacular views of San Francisco and the Bay along the ride. (Thumbnail images)

The skyline view of San Francisco is a lot different now than it was in 1970. You can still see at least three buildings from here  now, The Ferry Building, the Southern Pacific Building, and the Bank of America Building. (opensfhistory.org)

The Bay Bridge under construction in the mid 1930s: (opensfhistory.org)

You dock across from the old Administration Building, one of the only three surviving buildings from the 1939/1940 Treasure Island International Exposition on the island.

Inside the Administration Building:


In the 1939 film ‘Charlie Chan at Treasure Island’, staring Sidney Toler as Chan, there’s a great aerial view of the fair from the Pan Am flying boat that  Charlie Chan arrives at Treasure Island from Hawaii on. It passes over the Administration Building and the Sun Tower.

Docking at Clipper Cove, Chan is hot on the trail of another murderer. That’s the new and old eastern span of the Bay Bridge in the background.

The old Clipper Cove, where the China Clipper Flying boats used to take off and arrive overseas to and from the Philippines.

The mutiny trial from the 1954 film ‘The Caine Mutiny’, starring Humphrey Bogart, takes place in the Administration Building. Here, Jose Ferrer passes the checkpoint in a Jeep on his way to the Administration Building to prepare for his defense of the mutineers.


The jeep pulls up to entrance to the Administration Building.

Pulling away from the island, and heading back to the office just in time to catch the Kentucky Derby Race on TV.

Chinatown, 2022

Some people spend their leisure time golfing, and some people spend their leisure time on their yacht; that second one’s still in the planning stage for me. Some people spend their leisure time climbing tall mountains; I’ll get around to that someday too.  Me, I spend my leisure time taking pictures in San Francisco, especially in Chinatown. What is it about this ancient ghetto that draws me to it? It’s not really ancient, most of it only goes back to 1906, and it’s not really a ghetto (marginal community) although I’ve read it being described as one by some urban scholars. My interest in the area goes back to when we were kids; going to Chinatown seemed like going to a different part of the world. Then, as I read more about the history of the community, the shanghaiing, opium dens, sexual slavery, tong wars, villains like “Little Pete”, it became more adventurous to go there. I think Telegraph Hill is the most romantic place in San Francisco to walk around at night, but Chinatown is the most intriguing. Chinatown is rebounding nicely from the COVID 19 Pandemic, and it’s good to see the crowds coming back. (Thumbnail images)

Grant Avenue at Commercial, looking south in the 1960s: (Pinterest)

The Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground in 1969. The playground has been recently renovated. The alley running alongside it from Sacramento to Clay Street is called Pagoda Place and Hang Ah Street. (Vintage Everyday)

Jackson Street at Ross Alley, looking west in 1969: The old Grandview Theater Building is on the right. This one turned out better in black and white. (Vintage Everyday)

Grant Avenue, looking north toward Clay Street in the 1960s: (Pinterest)

Jackson Street between Stockton Street and Grant Avenue, looking east in 1972: Even if the truck wasn’t blocking the view in my picture, you can’t see much of the old Appraisers Building in the background from here anymore. (Vintage Everyday)

Waverly Place, looking north from Clay Street in 1982: In the background, at the far end of Waverly Place, is the spot where the tong lord, “Little Pete” was assassinated in 1897. (Vintage Everyday)

Drumm Street

Drumm-de-Drumm-Drumm! That’s the theme to the old television show ‘Dragnet’. On the first Saturday I took off work since December, I rode BART into San Francisco and got off at the Market, California, and Drumm Streets stop at Embarcadero. Drumm Street used to extend six blocks from Market Street to the Embarcadero at Broadway, but most of the buildings built on Drumm, except for the Western side between California and Sacramento, have been demolished for the Embarcadero Center, Maritime Plaza, and the apartments between Jackson Street and Broadway. The street may have lost its character, (Herb Caen once wrote that there was a building called the Fife Building on Drumm Street) but it’s a lot more people friendly today. (Thumbnail images)

There was a cool picture of a drawing in the San Francisco Chronicle recently of a 1961 artist’s rendition of what the BART Transbay Tube was going to look like.


Looking down California Street toward Drumm Street in 1948: That’s the Southern Pacific Building in the background. (opensfhistory.org)

Pedestrians crossing Drumm Street at Market Street in 1925: (opensfhistory.org)

A cable car passing across Drumm Street, heading to Nob Hill in 1961: I did an update of this picture last year, but I felt like redoing it on Saturday. (San Francisco Picture Blog)


General De Gaulle’s motorcade turns of Drumm Street onto California Street during his 1961 visit to San Francisco. All of the buildings in the background, other than the Southern Pacific Building, peeking over the top on the left, have been demolished.






Vintage San Francisco

There’s a Facebook page that I found recently titled, aptly, Vintage San Francisco. They’ve posted some wonderful long-ago San Francisco pictures, but they haven’t updated their page recently. I hope they continue posting. Here are a few updates I’ve done of some of their vintage photos. (Thumbnail images)


Market Street at Grant Avenue, circa 1917: “The Largest American Flag in the World” flies above Market Street.


A 1909 postcard of the Sharon House at the Children’s Playground in Golden Gate Park:

The White House Department Store on the corner of Sutter Street and Grant Avenue in an undated photo: the building was built in 1908, and now houses the Banana Republic Store.


Just two days ago, April 18th, a crowd, including Mayor London Breed and former Mayor Willie Brown gathered here at Lotta’s Fountain at 5:12 AM to commemorate the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. The vintage picture, with the Chronicle Building on the left, and the Palace Hotel on the right, is from 1909.


A mother and her two daughters pass the Cliff House heading up to the Sutro Bathhouse, circa 1900: Looks like there was some bullying going on between the big girl in the dress on the right and the little girl with her mom, looking back.


409 Laguna Street in 1908: Maps of the 1906 Fire show that the blaze extended to three blocks west of Van Ness to Octavia Street. The Laguna Apartment Building here is one block further west past Octavia, and if it was around two years before the vintage photo was taken, it just missed destruction.






Tax Day, 2022

Tomorrow is April 18th, Tax Day, 2022. It’s also the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. I’m trying to figure out a clever connection there, but like any of the tax returns I’m supposed to finish by April 18th, I’m still working on it. Anyway, in honor of the occasion, here are some updates I’ve posted in the past of vintage pictures from the disaster.(Thumbnail images)

Looking down Market Street, near 5th: The Flood Building, center left, is among several buildings in the vintage picture that survived.

Looking across Union Square toward Union Square:

The foot of Market Street where the Hyatt Regency, on the right, is today:

Kearny Street, up from Broadway, looking south:

This photograph by Arnold Genthe, looking down Sacramento Street from Powell, is often listed as one of the ten best photographs ever taken.

The fire approaching the Ferry Building, in a view from the Bay: The width of the Embarcadero prevented the fire from destroying the historic building.

Looking east on Market Street: The gothic looking Mutual Savings Building in the center, and the now remodeled Call Building on the right are still around.

The Ferry Building from where the Embarcadero Center is today:

The Children’s Playground in Golden Gate Park:

Looking northeast from Alamo Square, long before ‘Full House’:

A southeast view of Downtown San Francisco from below Nob Hill:












Postcards from the past (Thumbnail images)

“Long past?”

“No, your past.”

These are postcards of San Francisco that I bought when I was in high school. If I remember correctly, many of them I bought for a dime at the old Transbay Terminal Building when heading home from a day in SF. Progress has taken its toll on the beauty of the views in many of these postcards. I opened up with a line from Dickens ‘Christmas Carol’, so I’ll sum up the San Francisco you’ll see in a lot of these old postcards by quoting the last thing Jacob Marley’s ghost said to Ebenezer Scrooge;

“Look for me no more.”

Lombard Street, “The World’s Crookedest Street”, to which Herb Caen added, “after Wall Street.”.

Looking toward Alioto’s, Fishermen’s Grotto, and Pier 45:

SOMA from Twin Peaks, with the Pacific Telephone Building the only skyscraper:


The Cliff House and Sutro Baths at Lands End: Sutro’s was gone and his postcard was already outdated when I bought it.

Civic Center, with the water pools still in front of City Hall:

Above the Fisherman’s Wharf Lagoon and Pier 45: The little chapel is now where the white building at the bottom center was.

The view from the Coit Tower parking lot, looking toward Piers 39 and 41, both demolished now:

An aerial view of northeastern San Francisco before the skyscraper boom of the late 1960s changed the view radically:


Above the portion of Golden Gate Park where the Midwinter International Exposition of 1894 was held: All of the structures except the Band Concourse have been demolished and rebuilt. I liked it so much better before.

The Cliff House that I loved the best:

Looking along Market Street past the Ferry Building; this is my favorite one.

Ghirardelli Square and the Maritime Museum:

Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower:

And remember, “Don’t call it Frisco”.

The Sir Francis Drake Hotel

When we were young, we were told that Francis Drake was a brave explorer who circumnavigated the globe, helped defeat the Spanish Armada, and discovered San Francisco Bay. Well, two out of three ain’t bad; the famous Drake Plate found in Marin County in 1936, which led to the belief that Drake discovered the Bay, was declared a fake in the 1970s, I believe. Drake actually landed further up the California Coast. However, there’s also evidence that Drake was a slave trader, took part in the massacre of women and children on Rathlin Island, off Ireland, and beheaded his co-commander on one of his voyages for witchcraft. (Source, Wikipedia) Because of these revelations, the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, on the corner of Powell and Sutter Streets and opened in 1928, will be changing its name to the Beacon Grand when it reopens this spring. I did a look back on my blog recently to some of the pictures featuring the famous hotel that I’ve posted. (Thumbnail images)

Looking down Powell Street to the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in the 1950s: The northern view from the Starlight Room on the top of the hotel, which Herb Caen preferred to the Top of the Mark, was completely blocked by the Marriott Hotel.


A cable car climbs Powell Street on Nob Hill in the 1940s:

The view along Powell Street from the south in the 1960s: (Vintage Everyday)

The hotel lobby in 1928, the year the hotel opened: I got my update in February of 2020, just before the Covid 19 Pandemic closed the Sir Francis Drake, which is its current status. (North Point Press)

A lonely looking serviceman walks past the garage entrance to the Sir Francis Drake Hotel during World War Two.

Thomas Kinkade’s glamorous, although inaccurate, painting featuring the Sir Francis Drake Hotel:

Jack Lemmon races his Thunderbird down Powell Street from California Street in the 1963 film ‘Good Neighbor Sam’.


A streetcar rattles east along Sutter Street past the Drake Hotel on the corner in the 1950s; (opensfhistory.org)

The Sir Francis Drake was a guidepost for finding the location of these photos of a newspaper stand on the day after the Pearl Harbor attack, when I first saw them in 2016. They were identified incorrectly as being taken at Market and Montgomery Streets. The key to finding this spot was in the tall building in the distance at the center of the first comparison picture. That looked to me like the old Sir Francis Drake Hotel. If it was, then I had to find out what angle the pictures were taken from. You can’t see the Sir Francis Drake from here anymore, but these pictures were shot on the northeast corner of Sutter and Kearny looking west. (Shorpy Archives)

4th, 5th, and 6th Streets

Last November, I posted a collection of vintage pictures from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Streets. On last Sunday, I took BART over to San Francisco to do some updates of vintage pictures from 4th, 5th, and 6th Streets; not necessarily an upgrade. This was actually a historic day for BART because this was the first day since the transit system opened in 1972 that all five of the BART lines were running on a Sunday. (Thumbnail pictures)

Looking across Market Street from 4th Street to Stockton and Ellis Streets in 1942: The old Flood Building at Powell and Market Streets is on the left in both pictures. (San Francisco Picture Blog)

Looking the exact opposite from the previous picture is Market Street and Stockton, looking toward 4th Street in 1979. (San Francisco Picture Blog)


4th Street at Natoma, looking toward Market Street in 1941: Natoma, on the right, doesn’t cut through to 4th Street anymore. Minna Street, where the car is turning into on the left in the vintage picture, still does. The old Roos Brothers building at Stockton and Market Streets, built in 1907, is in the far background of both pictures. (SFMTA Archives)

A streetcar turns south on to 5th Street from Market Street in 1941: The view is looking north across Market Street to where the Hallidie Plaza BART Station is today. (opensfhistory.org)

The crown jewel of 5th Street is the old U.S. Mint Building on 5th and Mission Streets, built in 1874. To the left of this view, and out of the picture, is the San Francisco Chronicle Building. Herb Caen wrote so many passages in his columns and books about activities he witnessed at this intersection. (San Francisco Picture Blog)

Looking west on Market Street toward Twin Peaks from 6th Street in 1945, with the old Paramount Theater on the right.  (San Francisco Picture Blog)


6th Street at Natoma in 1985: This is not a pleasant walk from Market Street to here nowadays; enough said. The old Golden Gate Theater, on Golden Gate Avenue and Taylor Streets, is in the far background of both pictures. (San Francisco Picture Blog)

Backyard history

Not far from where I work, Heritage Park, bounded by C Street, D Street, Mission Blvd. and Watkins Street in Hayward, opened up last summer. The block was originally a park before the 1950 Hayward Library was built in the middle of it. The library was demolished several years ago, and the block is now a park again. Recently, commemorative markers were placed on the Watkins Street side of the park in remembrance of Executive Order 9066, signed by Franklin Roosevelt February 19th 1942; eighty years ago this Saturday. Japanese families were rounded up and sent to internment camps after Pearl Harbor. More than 600 members of these families were shipped off by bus here on Watkins Street. (Thumbnail images)

This is the spot on Watkins Street where the families, with the belongings they gathered, were taken away by bus.