Want to see some drawings? (For Joanne)

These are comparison photos of illustrations draw by Floyd Hildebrand and Edward H. Suydam. Although this post is lighthearted, I would like to mention something; I took my pictures yesterday, November 10th, and many of them appear hazy. That’s not the famous San Francisco fog in my photos, but smoke from the Camp Fire wildfire that as of this posting has taken at least 23 lives and is still not contained.

DrawCCaruseThe first drawings, such as the above one at the Powell Street cable car turnaround, are by Floyd Hildebrand. A client and friend of mine named Joanne Gonzales found a collection of his works sponsored by the California Savings and Loan Company of San Francisco at an estate sale, and she picked them up for me. The California Savings and Loan Association was originally founded in 1887. After several name changes during the 20th and 21st Centuries it ended up as the Pacific National Bank. The bank failed in October of 2009. Floyd Hildebrand died in 1984. These drawings of his are dated from 1961.

DrawCalifStuseCalifornia Street, looking down toward Chinatown:

DrawFWharduseThe Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon:

DrawCommerecialuseCommercial Street was one of two streets in San Francisco that ran straight to the Ferry Building, the other being Market Street. In 1971, the eastern portion of Commercial was closed off by construction of the Embarcadero Center, and this is as close to the spot in the drawing as you’ll get today. That’s the Embarcadero Freeway running past the Ferry Building in the sketch.

DrawCalMontuseThe northwest corner of California and Montgomery Streets in 1887: Well, I’m sure glad that I got everything else in my picture in focus except the cable car! The gradient of the street on the left in the drawing suggests that it was probably the northeast corner of California and Montgomery Streets looking west and endorsed wrong, but I went with what the artist wrote.

DrawCToweruseThis spot has a special place in my heart. I’m usually alone nowadays when I visit Telegraph Hill, but once on a long ago October night, I sat at this same spot behind Coit Tower looking toward Russian Hill with “a girl with moonlight in her eyes” and we fell in love…… for awhile, anyway. That girl died three years ago and there isn’t a time that I come up here that I don’t think about her. The telescope, concrete circle and stairs weren’t there when we sat here, and the telescope has to be a practical joke, you’re not going to see anything through those trees!

DrawLottauseThe next group of pictures, including the above illustration of Lotta’s Fountain, were drawn by Edward H. Suydam during the 1930’s. He often picked less known areas in San Francisco that weren’t as popular for his work. Edward H. Suydam died in 1940.

DrawJonesuseLooking west along McAllister Street where McAllister, Jones and Market Streets meet.  The beautiful building with the columns is the Hibernia Bank building, closed for years.

DrawNHillSacramento Street, looking past the Pacific Union Club toward the Fairmont and Mark Hopkins Hotels:

DrawJoiceuse The Joice Steps off of Pine Street, on the south side of Nob Hill: One day I’ll have to climb those and see what’s up there.

DrawTillmanuseTillman Place on Grant Avenue just south of Chinatown: This was a bustling little alley once, filled with little shops, but it seems quietly forgotten now.

DrawCTownuseChinatown, looking north from Pine Street: I saw a lot of people wearing safety masks in San Francisco yesterday.


San Francisco after dark

I took a walk around San Francisco last night while I was trying to figure out who most of the people I voted for ARE! I started at the old Emporium store on Market Street, headed over to North Beach and back through Chinatown, still enjoying the nice weather while it lasts.

DarkBloominguseLooking east at the old Emporium Store getting ready for Christmas in 1971: Bloomingdale’s needs to fix some of the dead letters in their name above the old Emporium entrance. (Kid 101)

DarkBroadwayuseBroadway at Columbus Avenue in 1971: The ‘Condor Club’ and ‘Big Al’s’ aren’t lit up anymore, but the ‘Hungry I’ still is. (Skyscrapercity.com)

DarkPacificblogThe notorious International Settlement on Pacific Avenue during the 1940’s from the photographer Fred Lyon. Spider Kelly’s and the Barbary Coast Club  were in the building behind the car that’s leaving in my photo. A little trivia here that’s of interest to probably only me; “Baby Face” Nelson used to come out from Chicago and hang out at Spider Kelly’s when he wasn’t robbing banks with John Dillinger!

DarkCtownblogGrant Avenue, between Sacramento and Clay Streets during the 1940’s: If this was during World War Two, Chinatown isn’t observing blackout rules. It’s amazing that the Bakery neon sign is still there!  (Skyscrapercity.com)


These will keep me busy (Part two)

More then and nows of vintage pictures from Skyscrapercity.com.

SkyBroadwayuseLooking east along Broadway from Russian Hill in 1880: There’s still a church at the same location as the church in the old photo, but the one there today was built in 1912.

SkyMontgomeryuseMontgomery Street, where it meets Post and Market Streets in 1909: That’s the Palace Hotel on the right.

SkyClayuse Grant Avenue at Clay Street in 1957 from somebody’s car: I never noticed until I did this update, but I can’t even see the hood of my car when I’m driving!

SkyLombarduseLooking down Lombard Street in a less crowded 1963:

SkyFWharfuseJefferson and Taylor Streets at Fisherman’s Wharf in 1967: I don’t know who that fellow was handing out propaganda in the vintage picture, but I don’t think it was Jerry Garcia.

SkuCtownuseChinatown, between Pine and California Streets in 1968:

SkyMarketlookingeastuseMarket Street at 6th, looking east in the 1920’’s: The building with the crown in the center of both photos is the Golden Gate Theater.

SkyMarketuseMarket Street at 5th looking west in 1945: All those old movie palaces are gone!




StretchoneStretchtwoStretchthreeWent out to McCovey Cove today to pay my respects to “Stretch”. I love this ‘Peanuts’ cartoon from 1962 about McCovey’s line drive that ended the 1962 World Series in a loss for the Giants. Charlie Brown is obviously a Giants fan!

These will keep me busy (Part one)

I do so enjoy stumbling onto a website filled with vintage San Francisco pictures I have never seen before. Skyscrapercity.com, where these vintage pictures are from, has too many terrific San Francisco pictures to be limited to just one post, which is fine with me.

SkyCalifStuseLooking down California Street near Powell on Nob Hill in 1960: I only got one cable car in my picture, and that’s as far out as I’m going onto California Street with oncoming traffic behind me. Down the hill where the PARKING and 76 sign are in the vintage picture was where the old Crest Garage, demolished just this year, was.

SkyGrantCalifuseGrant Avenue and California Street in 1955:

SkyPowellMarketuseThe Powell Street cable car turnaround in 1967:

SkyWaverlyuseWaverly Place at Washington Street in the heart of Chinatown in 1946:

SkywashuseGrant Avenue at Washington Street in 1966:

SkyGearyuseGeary Blvd. near Powell Street and Union Square in 1971: Lefty O’Doul’s closed in 2017.

SkyRedsuseGrant Avenue at Jackson Street in the early 1960’s: Red’s Place is a great place to stop in for a pick-me-up (a drink not a date) after walking around the hills of Chinatown all day. Downstairs in the old building, you could look into rooms that were said to have once been opium cribs, but the area is closed off now.

SkyFBuildinguseThe San Francisco skyline near the Ferry Building from San Francisco Bay in 1960, before the skyscraper boom:

The mystery of the “Ghost Blimp” (For Veronica)

BlimpopeneruseWith Halloween approaching, it seems appropriate to post a spooky mystery story. The fate of the World War Two blimp, L-8, is one of San Francisco’s greatest mysteries. I have read of the story before, but a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Gary Kamiya raised my interest in the incident again. During World War Two blimps regularly patrolled the Pacific Ocean in search of Japanese submarines that may be lurking off the coast. (In fact, it was discovered after the war that a Japanese submarine did, indeed, fire a torpedo at the Golden Gate Bridge) On August 16th 1942, a navy blimp piloted by Lieutenant Ernest DeWitt Cody and Ensign Charles Adams left Treasure Island, flew over the Golden Gate Bridge, and headed toward the Farallon Islands. Shortly after that, a message, “Am investigating suspicious oil slick, stand by.” was sent to Treasure Island from the blimp. That was over 76 years ago, and that was the last thing ever heard from the two pilots! The blimp came down empty in Daly City, just south of the Crocker Amazon District, (not far from where Parry Hearst was captured) and to this day, no one knows what happened or what became of the two pilots on board. (Vintage photo from Welweb.org)

BlimpHornetuseThe L-8 blimp had a few previous moments in history. This photo from Wikipedia shows it delivering parts to the aircraft carrier USS Hornet just before she left for the famous “Doolittle Raid”.

BlimpdescentuseAround 11:15 AM, the blimp was photographed near the shoreline by Lake Merced deflating and descending. It struck a hill near the Lake Merced Golf Course which caused one of the depth charges on the ship to break off and roll down the hill. Fortunately, it didn’t explode. (Allthat’sinteresting.com)

BlimpsoutheastuseThe blimp eventually crashed down on Bellevue Avenue in Daly City, seen here in this view looking southeast. (SF Chronicle)

BlimpmysterytwouseThe blimp was intact, all the parachutes were still on board, but the door was latched open, which it should not have been. I think I may have solved a mystery within a mystery I was encountering from this San Francisco Chronicle photo of the gondola taken at the time. The L and 8 letter and number visible in the previous photo are missing in this picture. This may have been requested by the navy as not to identify which blimp it was.

BlimpSouthwestuse Two views of the downed airship from the San Francisco Chronicle, looking southwest:

BlimpnorthwestuseA view of the gondola looking northwest: That’s probably the same telephone pole.

BlimpnewspaperuseThe San Francisco Examiner edition that covered the story: (Atlas Obscura)

BlimpspilotsuseThe two, lost forever, pilots, Ernest Cody and Charles Adams: It’s unlikely anyone will ever know what became of them.

BlimpSouthuse While I was researching the story, I met a nice lady from the area named Veronica who was interested in the incident, and the pictures. She helped me match up some of the angles. The top vintage photo was on the north side of Bellvue where the blimp came down. I was looking at the three houses in the center photo as the ones in the old photo; the stairs, doorways and small windows on the right side of the houses match up. Veronica thought it was where the houses in the bottom photo further to the east are, even though two of the houses didn’t match. There is a gap on the right that could be the same as the one in the vintage photo, so I took a picture of her guess, just in case.

BlimpgoogleuseWhen I got back to the office I looked the area up again on Google Maps. Trust a woman’s intuition, Veronica was right!

BlimpgomdolauseThe L-8 gondola was eventually used for other Goodyear blimps after the war, and is now on display in the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. (navalavationmuseum.org)









A then and now tour for visiting out-of-towners

The mild October weather is still holding up while I took visiting relatives from Texas on a San Francisco tour this Thursday and Friday.

StacysundialoneuseThe largest sundial in the world, the mysterious Urbano Sundial in the south part of San Francisco: This thing has a cult following now. (Vintage photo from Found SF)

StacyChouse2018useOcean Beach at the Cliff House:

“Come on, Stacy, you’re holding us up!”

“No, I’m holding up the Cliff House!”

StacyGGPuseI believe the oldest merry-go-round in San Francisco is at the Children’s Playground in Golden Gate Park, seen here in the 1890’s. (San Francisco History Center)

StacyBBridgeuseHeading in on the Bay Bridge through number 5, like whoever this was in the 1970’s, and getting a late start on day two of the tour: (Source unknown)

StacySaluseAnd, of course, there’s ‘Laffin’ Sal’, seen at the Playland-at-the-Beach Funhouse in 1972 when they were tearing Playland down: The inscription here at the one in Fisherman’s Wharf reads that this was the one that used to be out and Playland, and she hasn’t got any prettier over the years.(opensfhistory.org)

StacysunsetuseSunset from the top of the Liberty Ship Jeremiah O’Brien as Pier 45 closes down for the day: It doesn’t get any prettier than this! That’s the World War Two submarine, the USS Pampanito, berthed in front of the Jeremiah O’Brien.