Diego Rivera’s mural, Pan American Unity (Thumbnail images)

One of the most prominent Mexican painters of all time, Diego Rivera, was commissioned by San Francisco Architect, Timothy Pflueger, to paint a mural for the 1939 / 1040 Golden Gate International Exposition at Treasure Island for the 1940 season of the fair. Fair visitors were allowed to watch Rivera as he painted the mural.  The painting is on display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art until the summer of 2023. Split up into five panels, I’ll highlight a few of the enormous amount of people and places Rivera included in the mural, identified in the free brochure of the exhibit provided by SFMOMA.

Panel number one depicts images of people and places of Rivera’s native Mexico, real and folklore, some of which I’m not familiar with. #1 are the volcanoes IxtaccihuatI  and PopocatepetI to the east of Mexico City. #2 is the Aztec deity, Quetzalcoatl. #3 is the Temples of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec Capital which is now Mexico City.

San Francisco starts to appear in panel number two. #12 is the 450 Sutter Building designed by Timothy Pflueger. #13 is the Bay Bridge. #15 is another Timothy Pflueger San Francisco building, the Pacific Telephone Building on New Montgomery Street. Among other notable historic figures in this panel are #23, George Washington, #24, Thomas Jefferson, and #25, Abraham Lincoln.

At the top right of panel number three is #28, the Golden Gate Bridge. #31 is Frida Kahlo, a beautiful Mexican artist who married Diego Rivera in 1929, was divorced from him in 1939, and remarried Diego in December of 1940, just after completion the mural. #33 is film actress Paulette Goddard helping Diego Rivera himself plant the tree shown in #2. I don’t know if Diego ever actually met Paulette Goddard. Timothy Pflueger gets an honorable appearance in #36.

Panel number four is the most interesting one to me, complete with film stars, villains and San Francisco. Up at the top you’ll see #37, Alcatraz Island, and #38, Treasure Island.  In #44 are Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Even though Rivera was a Communist, Stalin was an ally of Hitler when Diego did the painting. In #45 are Jack Oakie and Charlie Chaplin as they appeared in Chaplin’s satire about Hitler, ‘The Great Dictator’. Edward G. Robinson is seen in # 47. Robinson was starring in the 1940 movie ‘Confessions of a Nazi Spy’ at the time of the painting. The evil monster, Heinrich Himmler is in #48. Charlie Chaplin appears again in #49.

Diego Rivera leaves San Francisco in panel number five. Mounts Lassen and Shasta in Northern California are seen in #50. There’s an interesting collection of inventors and industrialists in the closing panel; Henry Ford in #54, Thomas Edison in #55, Samuel Morse in #57, and Robert Fulton in #58

‘I Spy’

One of the best looks you’ll get of 1968 San Francisco are from three episodes from Season 3 of the television Show ‘I Spy’; ‘Tag, You’re It’, ‘Anyplace I Hang Myself Is Home’ and ‘An American Princess’. ‘I Spy’ was a television drama show filmed on location in exotic places like Hong Kong, Athens, and Mexico City, to name a few. The producers of the show wisely realized San Francisco was just as exciting of a place and filmed these three episodes entirely in San Francisco with scenes at the Presidio, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, City Hall, the Opera House, Coit Tower, the San Francisco Zoo, and the Palace of the Legion of Honor, among some of the locations. Robert Culp and Bill Cosby portray spies Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott. Bill Cosby has come a long way up and a long way back down since ‘I Spy’, but this was a groundbreaking show for an African American, and these two guys are fun to watch together. (Thumbnail images)

In the opening scene of ‘Tag, You’re It’, there’s a great panning shot of 1968 San Francisco from atop the Fairmont Hotel.

The Steinhart Aquarium Whale Sculpture scene in ‘Tag, You’re It’ is priceless! I think that dingy hippie girl went on to be a regular on the Smothers Brothers Show. (SF Gate, from the film ‘The Lineup’)

‘An American Empress’ opens up with a live shot of Chinatown, on Grant Avenue looking north toward Sacramento Street.

There’s an extended scene from on top of the old Ghirardelli Omnibus from Pier 43 through Fisherman’s Wharf in ‘An American Princess’.

There’s also a scene from ‘ An American Princess’ filmed at Coit Tower when you could still see San Francisco from the parking lot. Those telescopes are a joke now!

In ‘Anyplace I Hang Myself is Home’, Kelly is brainwashed by an undercover traitor into trying to kill himself by jumping from the top of Coit Tower.

“Scotty”, who had also been brainwashed, climbs up to the top of the tower to talk Kelly down.

San Francisco TV doesn’t get any better than this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disneyland in the 1960s

I got a chance to visit Disneyland in the new decade of the 2020s, so I thought I’d update some old pictures taken during the first decade I ever visited Disneyland, the 1960s. Of course, I was so young back then, I can barely remember it. “Yeah, right, Tim!” (Thumbnail images)

 

The first place I always head for is Adventureland because it’s the quickest way to get to the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square. (Travel&Leisure)

Not only has the Sleeping Beauty Castle been remodeled since the 60s, but look at that anorexic Minnie Mouse! I don’t know what that tree is blocking part of the view of the castle now? My friend, Tony, will know. (insider.com)

There isn’t that much “Wild West” in Frontierland anymore. (pendletonUSA.com)

The entrance to Tomorrowland: No, That’s not me in the old photo; even I didn’t dress like that back then. You can still see the People Mover tracks behind that rocket thing today. (CNN)

The Tomorrowland Terrace: Wow, the New Establishment! Just what you’d expect a band from the 1960s to be called. I’ll bet they were terrible! Behind them is the old Carousel of Progress, America Sings Pavilion. (Worthpoint)

Ah, a typical 1962 family at the main entrance to Disneyland. Grandma has gone to that big Disneyland in the sky by now, no doubt. (thisfairytalelife.com)

A labor of love for the Labor Day Weekend

It’s not always as easy as it looks, but it’s not always as hard as it looks either. (Thumbnail images)

825 Clay Street at Waverly Place in the 1950s: I don’t know if that little guy on the left was imitating a cop or Marlon Brando in ‘The Wild One’. (Phil Palmer)

 

They have bronze maps of the alleys of Chinatown in many of the alleys, and I spent some of the time exploring most of them. Just follow the bronze footprints. The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Ross Alley was business as usual.

A couple of old clunkers on Market Street where Sutter Street comes into it: Well, three old clunkers if you count me. The old picture is from the 1970s. (San Francisco Municipal Railway)

 

Looking toward what is now the Nordstrom portion of Westfield Centre in the 1960s: There used to be collection of popular stores here long ago. I wonder what Record Ecords was like? (Pinterest)

 

Anson Place and Powell Street in the 1940s:  I had to wait for a cable car, try do get it at about the same spot as the old one, and I got a lucky break with the girl in the Giants jacket walking by when I took my picture. The Giants and Dodgers were locked in a showdown at Giants Stadium over the weekend. The Giants came out on top. (Max Yavno)

 

Looking toward the old Emporium Department Store in the 1960s:  I really enjoy seeing the old F Line Streetcars up and running along Market Street again, and it makes for a better comparison picture. (Vintage Everyday)

‘Hot Summer Day’

“Hot summer day (Hot Summer Day), carry me along, to its end, where I begin”

That’s me, quoting lyrics from a song that nobody born after 1970 has ever heard of. Well, I remember that song by ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’. Anyway, it was also a hot summer day in San Francisco last Saturday. (I’ve got to work on these lead-ins.) These are updates I did last weekend of pictures I took in late March and Early April of 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. Much of Downtown San Francisco was boarded up, lonely and depressing then. (Thumbnail images)

The intersection of Market and Powell Streets:

 

The cable car turnaround at Powell and Market Streets:

“If you run them, they will come.”

 

The Westfield Center, in the old Emporium Building, is open again and was crowded Saturday. The food services downstairs are roped off with security checking vaccine cards, but I saw a few people sneaking in under the rope.

Stockton and O’Farrell Streets, looking north toward the Stockton Tunnel: The #30 Muni lines had been temporarily discontinued back then.

 

Union Square: There was no sound of cable car bells, no traffic noise, and no murmur of voices around the near empty square. It felt too strange and I didn’t want to stay there very long that day.

 

Geary Blvd. and Powell Street: Cable cars were rattling past, with people enjoying the freebie rides for one last weekend before the fares come back.

Minor White

“My own place in this thing called photography? Lately it has come to my attention that perhaps I have a place in it, not entirely held by others.” (Minor White; Wikipedia)

This post is a collection of updates of Minor White photographs taken in San Francisco in the late 1940s and early 1950s. When you look at my updated pictures, it’s easy to see who the master is and who’s the imitator. Still, San Francisco has changed a lot since the vintage pictures were taken, and my pictures are only geographical comparisons of a few of Minor White’s images from a long ago San Francisco. The source pictures are from the digital library of the California Historical Society page on the internet. (Thumbnail images)

An ambulance on Market Street, between First and Second Streets, in 1951: The Hunter-Dulin Building on Montgomery and Sutter Streets where Sam Spade had his fictional office in the ‘Maltese Falcon’ is almost completely blocked out from the view here by the Wells Fargo Building, built in the 1960s.

Montgomery and California Streets, the heart of white-collar San Francisco, looking south along Montgomery Street in 1950

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Looking across the Embarcadero toward the old Hills Bros. Coffee Building in 1949:

A lot of Minor White’s San Francisco photos were taken along the Embarcadero. This view is looking toward Telegraph Hill, between Union and Filbert Streets, in 1949.

This is one of White’s most famous pictures, taken on the northeast corner of Pine and Sansome Streets in 1949. I’m not sure if the 49 – 52 at the bottom of his picture represents the number of his pictures he took in San Francisco.

Where Lombard Street comes in to the Embarcadero in 1949: This is a great shot of a Belt Line Railroad engine.

Where Filbert Street used to merge with the Embarcadero in 1949: This is the view today from Levi Strauss Plaza about where the vintage picture was taken: Although the Levi Strauss Plaza, built in the early 1980s, is a great spot for catching some sun or having a bag lunch, there’s a lot to be said for the New Deal Restaurant. Like ‘Alice’s Restaurant’, you could have probably gotten anything you want.

 

In front of the Pacific Union Club in 1949: Grace Cathedral is in the background. Construction on Grace Cathedral had been halted by 1949 and the remaining work, along with the south spire, was not completed until 1964.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following in my own footsteps (Part three)

In May of 2019, as part of the longest title of any of my posts, I promised ‘Still, still, still more pictures from the 1980s’. These are another collection of slide pictures I took from 1983 to 1986 that I had converted to a digital CD. Slide pictures convert to digital much better than snapshots, and A1 Photo & Video Lab in Berkeley does about the best job of doing the transfers that I know of. Oh, no, now I’m even running commercials on my blog! (Thumbnail images)

Cable cars are up and running again, and for now they’re free, which is even better than the 25 cents I used to pay to ride them when I was a teenager. I don’t remember what the fee was in 1983, but I was riding one up California Street in the spring of ’83 when we got in somebody’s picture passing Old St. Mary’s Church at Grant Avenue and California Street. Last weekend, I thought I’d ride on a California Street cable car to update my 1983 slide. I missed my shot heading up because I couldn’t get a spot on the side of the cable car I had to be on, so I got off at Powell Street, waited for another one going down California Street, and got on the side I needed to be on without having to knock somebody off. The cable car stopped pretty close to the angle I was in 1983, (just for me, no doubt) and I got my update. The traditional phone booth next to St. Mary’s was still there in 1983. Photographer Fred Lyon took a great picture during the 1960s at this phone booth that I updated in October of 2019.

Looking down Jones Street past Union Street in 1983: I rode my e-bike here earlier this week to get my recent picture, you can see it down by the corner. I don’t remember how I got up here in 1983. You have to do a lot of uphill traveling to get here. I didn’t ride Muni much back then, but I did have a 1973 Ford Maverick that I took over to the City a lot in those days. That old nag would’ve made up here okay.

The Hyde Street Pier in 1985: The C.A. Thayer schooner, on the right, was repositioned aft out now to make room for the sailing ship the Balclutha, on the left.

 

Looking up Powell Street from Geary Blvd. in the spring of 1983: You can still see the repair work on the Powell Street cable car line that necessitated a shutdown of the entire cable car system from the fall of 1982 to June of 1984. The recent shut down of the cable car system due to the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020, although not as long, was the longest closure of the cable car system since the 1982 – 1984 overhaul of the system.

 

The rest of the updates were taken on Fleet Day in October of 1986 from Telegraph Hill. This one was taken from Chestnut Street looking toward Pier 35. This was still during the Cold War when I took my first picture, and there was quite a lot of naval presence on display that day. We’ll get closer to the aircraft carrier in the next photos to see who she is.

I moved further up Telegraph Hill in 1986 to get this slide. The aircraft carrier is number 65; the USS Enterprise. She was decommissioned in February of 2017.

Like the previous photos, these ones were taken from the end of Lombard Street before it climbs the rest of the way up to Coit Tower. I’ve zoomed in on the slide to see if the ship second from the left is the Jeremiah O’Brien, but I don’t think it is.

I watched USS Enterprise as she moved off and sailed under the Bay Bridge. We’ll just never see anything like this again.

“Perpendicular, hanging on a cable car”

They’ve been out-of-date for over a hundred years, but it’s good to see the cable cars back running again. I went over there this week to take advantage of the free cable car rides throughout all of August. Incidentally, the title to this post comes from Judy Garland’s knock-out version of the song ‘San Francisco’. (Thumbnail images)

The cable car turnaround at Aquatic Park in 1969: West Coast Furniture; I think they’re still around, if you want to drive to Bakersfield. (ebay.com)

 

Hyde and Chestnut Streets and those spectacular views, in the 1970s: (SFMTA)

 

In front of the St Francis Hotel during the Cable Car Centennial of 1973: (SFMTA)

Hyde and Chestnut Streets in 1968: (UCSF Library)

Grant Avenue and California Street: “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates life.” It’s nice to see people running to catch a cable car again. (Ted Lewy)

“Perpendicular, hanging on a cable car”

Noirish updating

I don’t know if there’s such a word as noirish, my word program on my computer has it underlined in red, but if not, I’ll pretend there is. These are a collection of black and white updates of pictures that have a noirish appearance. (There’s that word again) Some of the vintage pictures are from movies that would be considered film noir, but most of the old images are just noirish looking. Hmm, my word program’s going to run out of red ink. (Thumbnail images)

Downtown San Francisco in the 1950s from Ina Coolbrith Park:

Chinatown, at Grant Avenue and California Street, circa late 1950s: The cable car operators were practicing their runs yesterday for today’s official opening of the cable cars, and now that intersection looks more natural. (Gene Wright)

The Golden Gate Bridge, from the master of noirish photography during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Fred Lyon:

 

Another image at Grant Avenue and California Street from the 1949 film ‘Red Light’ starring George Raft and Raymond Burr: Old St. Mary’s Church is in the background. I like that shadowy figure in the film shot.

The Cliff House in the 1950s, sadly empty today: (Fred Lyon)

A spooky looking International Settlement on Pacific Avenue at Montgomery Street during the 1940s: (ebay.com)

Jones Street, looking down from California Street during the 1950s: This is a scary street to drive down.

 

The top of the Filbert Steps on Telegraph Hill during the 1950s from another Fred Lyon image:

A Communist safe-house near Clay and Mason Streets from the 1948 film ‘Walk a Crooked Mile’: This movie has some great shots of Nob Hill and Chinatown.

 

Naturally, you can’t have a San Francisco noirish updates post without including the Ferry Building; from a 1951 picture by Gene Wright.

Following in my own footsteps (Part two)

These are updates of slide pictures around San Francisco that I took in May of 1983. Except for the cars, clothes and a few additional ugly skyscrapers, most of the views haven’t changed much. Keep in mind that all of the older photos were taken during the 1982 – 1984 cable car shut down. (Thumbnail images)

California Street looking west toward Front Street and Nob Hill beyond: Bookmania, boy I loved that store! I still have quite a number of books in my library that I bought there.

Looking south toward the intersection of Sacramento and Front Streets from the Embarcadero Center. The tall building on the left, barely visible from here today, is 101 California Street. My earlier photo was taken ten years before a lunatic caused the second deadliest mass murder shooting in Bay Area History in 101 California Street. The little corner Home Savings didn’t survive, and I used to make good use of the Round Table Pizza spot next to Shroeder’s Restaurant. Shroeder’s is still there though; I watched the Giants make it into their first of three San Francisco World Series victories in October of 2010.

California Street, just down from Powell: I’d sure like to have that orange truck in the older photo. You can see the 1983 repair work on the California cable car line down at the bottom of California Street. Cable cars, empty of passengers, were rattling past me all day while I did these updates last weekend; they’re getting ready for their return in August.

I headed down California Street toward Chinatown, as I did 38 years ago. “Slug bug”; notice the two Volkswagens turning onto California Street in the older picture. I don’t know why that seems so nostalgic to me, but it does.

We’ll cross to the south side of California Street to get a look at Old St. Mary’s Church.

 

I don’t remember the route I followed in 1983, but it’s probably the same one I took last Saturday. This is Pine Street looking down from Stockton Street toward the Bank of America Building.

 

We’re in ‘Maltese Falcon’ territory now. {Where Bush Street roofed Stockton before slipping downhill into Chinatown, Spade paid his fare and left the taxicab.} Samuel Spade crossed Bush Street here, looked over the edge of the Stockton Tunnel, and walked up to Burritt Alley where his partner Miles Archer had been shot earlier in the evening.

From Bush Street I doubled back down Kearny to get this comparison picture looking up Commercial Street as it climbs into Chinatown. Last Saturday’s redo stroll might have been a lot easier for me in 1983.

The Coit Tower parking lot with the Columbus Statue: Although this slide is dated May of 1983 as well, it’s unlikely it was taken the same day as the previous slides. If that little orange three wheel Go Car would have driven past me in 1983, I probably would have thought it was from outer space!