Climbing up the Filbert Steps with Humphrey Bogart

Filbertone Humphrey Bogart Plays a San Quentin escapee who has had plastic surgery to hide his identity from the police in the 1947 film ‘Dark Passage’. After the operation, he climbs up the Filbert Steps of Telegraph Hill to his hideout, Lauren Bacall’s apartment on Montgomery Street.  Filbert2 The steps turned here, as they do today, and begin their climb up Telegraph Hill. The wooden portion of the steps here was deemed unsafe in the late 1970’s and was replaced at this section.


A view from above of the area of the Filbert Steps in the previous photo:  filbert4 We’ll keep tagging along with our tired little gangster on his trek. The original wooden stairs from this point on are still there.  filbert5 “Come on buddy, you can make it, we’re almost there. I’m just as tired as you are!” That house to the left of Bogie, the “Captain’s House”, was built during the Civil War, and can still be seen from the Filbert Steps today!  Filbert6 “Made it Ma; top of the world!” He looks a little done in.


A aerial view from Coit Tower of where Bogart’s resting in the previous picture. The black car to the left of the palm tree is exactly where the roadster with the striped upholstery next to Bogie was parked. The apartment building with the mural behind the palm tree was his destination. It is said that Lauren Bacall, actually, lived there before she broke into the movies.

“Don’t fence me in”

Alcatrazuse A rare picture of prisoners on Alcatraz Island congregating in the exercise yard: Not sure if it was a problem or a friendly gathering, but there are prison guards in the middle of the crowd. Below is the corner of the exercise yard where the inmates were gathered.

Stocktonstuse Stockton Street, between Union Square and Maiden Lane in the 1950’s: These two gathering places will be fenced off from each other for some time to come due to the underground Stockton Metro tunnel being built.

DHarrytunneluse Dirty Harry, (Clint Eastwood) heads into the old train tunnel that runs under Fort Mason with ransom money to save a kidnapped child, and runs into three bad guys who try to rob him. In one of my favorite scenes from a Clint Eastwood movie, when they don’t “get lost” as he tells them to, he kicks one in the stomach, knocks another over with the money bag, and puts his .44 Magnum in the face of the third saying, “You don’t listen, do you, ass—-?” I tidied the word up a little, this being a family blog. The tunnel is fenced off now, but there are continuing efforts to have it opened as part of a bike trail, which would be a great idea!

Buffalouse “Where the buffalo roam.” In Golden Gate Park in the 1940’s: the buffalo were in a different part of the park, and other animals were confined in the area with them. The few buffalo left in the Golden Gate Park now are fenced in an area near the ocean called Buffalo Paddock. The fences are necessary not just to protect the visitors, but also to keep the buffalo safe from any harm from passing cars or being eaten!

FenceFBuildinguse No description is necessary. (Vintage photo Darius Aidala)

Ladies and little ones (and a puppy dog)

ladygrottouse That elegant lady in front of Fishermen’s Grotto #9 at Fisherman’s Wharf in the 1950’s had better get the service that she wants! The old Standard Station designed like a ship across the street remained in Fisherman’s Wharf from the 1930’s to the 1970’s, although, by the 70’s it had been remodeled to a more standard looking Standard Station. (Jerome Zerbe)

Birdsuse I’ve seen this Alfred Hitchcock movie, it’s scary! Actually, the little girl in the thick of it at Union Square in the 1950’s was a safe as the pigeons were! (Gene Wright)

Ladylookoutuse “Lady, look out!” This image from the 1960’s at California and Stockton Streets wasn’t as precarious as it looks; cable cars stop in the intersection…… I hope! (Nick Carter)

Pompeisuse “I’m a goin’ fishin’ too!”  Kids on the way to make the catch of the day, stop to visit a street musician and his buddy at Fisherman’s Wharf in the late 1960’s:  They’re just up from Pompei’s Grotto on Jefferson Street. (Martha Rosman)

Viewalcatrazuse “Hey look, honey, I can see Al Capone!”

“He’s dead!”

The lady doesn’t seem too interested. Until the 1970s after the prison closed, these telescopes at Fisherman’s Wharf were about as close to Alcatraz as you could get. They’re looking at it when it was still a prison. Those are the masts of the Balclutha in the background when it was berthed at Pier 41.

StevensonuseA child looks at the Robert Louis Stevenson Monument at Portsmouth Square in Chinatown in 1939.

“Who’s he, Daddy?”

“He wrote Treasure Island.”

“You mean, about the Fair?”

“No, it’s a story about adventures on a mysterious island with treacherous scoundrels, cutthroats, and pirates.”

”Oh, Alcatraz.”

Click on the link below for another series on women and children I posted

When it’s all too obvious

ObviousMFalconuse The opening scenes of ‘The Maltese Falcon’, (1941): The film makers identified the location, but most people wouldn’t have much trouble recognizing where the action will take place from this shot. Below, is a YouTube link to the opening scenes of the movie.

ObviousWharf1use Kelly Sherwood, (Lee Remick) must call “Red” Lynch, (Ross Martin) from a phone booth in Fisherman’s Wharf to find out where to deliver ransom money to free her kidnapped sister, Toby Sherwood, (Stefanie Powers)in the 1962 film, ‘Experiment in Terror’. Obviously, she doesn’t have a nickel, or maybe it was a dime by then. Behind her is the Fishermen’s Grotto #9 Restaurant. I’ve posted the YouTube link below before on my blog, but I enjoy watching it. It’s a neat recap of one of my favorite San Francisco movies packaged into the Henry Mancini theme from the opening credits.

Exper5use    When Kelly is told to cross the street and get into a cab, she is handed a ticket to a Giants, Dodgers game at Candlestick Park. $2.50! Obviously, when you’re a kidnapper springing for a baseball ticket for a relative of your victim, you buy one of the cheaper seats.  obviouszooislanduse “Benjamin, what are you doing here?”

“Here, in Berkeley?”

“No, Benjamin, we’re in San Francisco!”

Elaine Robinson, (Katherine Ross) didn’t, actually, say that last line to Benjamin Braddock, (Dustin Hoffman) in the 1967 film ‘The Graduate’, but she should have. They were at Monkey Island in the San Francisco Zoo, then known as Fleishhacker’s Zoo. Benjamin, obviously, needs the Google Maps App. Even the monkeys aren’t too sure about this guy! The link below is the YouTube video to the theatrical trailer for the film, although, the zoo scene isn’t shown.

Obviouszooisland2use Monkey Island is gone now, but the last time I visited the zoo, I asked one of the long time workers there where Monkey Island had once been and he was kind enough to show me this area here where it had once been located.  Phallicuse “Coitus interruptus.”

“I beg your pardon”

“Oh, Coit Tower. Slightly phallic, don’t you think?”

This is her impression of Coit Tower Police Officer, Kate Moore (Tyne Daly) imparts to Harry Callahan, (Clint Eastwood) as they walk through Pioneer Park behind Coit Tower in the 1976 film ‘The Enforcer’. Later, she tells him when referring to the power of his .44 Magnum,

“I see. So, it’s for the penetration?”

She, obviously, has something on her mind! Below, is a YouTube link of the scene.

obviousGGBrideuseA YouTube link below to a colorized version, (The film was shot in black and white) of the giant octopus destroying the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1955 move ‘It Came from Beneath the Sea’: Obviously, this was not a good day to take a drive to Marin.


The Alameda County Fair – 2016

Parkinguse The parking lot in the 1950’s: Well, the price has only gone up three thousand percent!  (Vintage picture Alameda County Fair Association Archives)Entranceuse Heading in: The parking lot in the 1950’s is now the Midway.  (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  HobbyPavilionuse The old horse racing grandstand was rebuilt in the 1960’s. On the right is the Arts and Crafts Building; I think they call it the Hobby Building now. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Jaimeuse Lots of cool things to see in the Hobby Building, like the Mushroom Display.  Midwayuse The Midway with all the Audrey Hepburn wannabes in the 1950’s: This was only the second day so the crowds were light, which makes it more fun. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Merrygorounduse They still have a Merry-go-round. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  kiddieridesuse Ah, the kiddie rides! You know, the ones I can handle. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Cokeorangebeeruse The old and new grandstand from the fair’s central park: (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Horseraceuse I probably didn’t do as well as F. Miller did in 1952, but I won $19.86 on this race! (Sammy DiLaura)  Stageuse The old Court of Four Season Stage, for years the main entertainment area, is gone now. This is where it was. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  MissCVuse The Court of Four Seasons from where the stage was: (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Garden Partyuse  The Flower and Gardens Building:

“If you’re going to a garden party, I wish you a lot of luck!”

They removed the old wishing well, and rain forest from inside here this year! (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Trainsuse The model train display has come a long way since its debut in the 1940’s. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)


Just because

Powellcableuse The Powell Street cable car turnaround: I put this one in just because I thought it was a interesting picture, and not, necessarily, because this is an election year and we may have another President Clinton by the end of the year. The Owl Drug Store on the right would eventually become the Woolworth’s Department Store, a landmark on this corner until the 1980’s.  Pier48use Pier 48 on the other side of McCovey Cove in the 1930’s: I framed my shot a little more to the left just because I didn’t want to leave the Bay Bridge out. (San Francisco History Center)  Sloatblvduse 47th and Sloat Blvd. in 1940: I put this one in just because whatever they’re building on this corner now is not going to be better than a ten cent hot dog or hamburger! I don’t think that old fire hydrant on the corner is going to survive this ordeal. That’s the old WPA Sloat Blvd. entrance to the zoo, now closed off to the public. Click on the link below for a close up of the old Sloat entrance from a series I did in July of 2015.

Paintinguse “San Francisco”, a painting by Emil Kosa Jr. looking down Montgomery Street from Telegraph Hill in 1942: I put this one in just because I can’t remember if the expression is, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” or “Art imitates Life far more than Life imitates Art.” but one of them applies. (Hilbert Museum of California Art)  Chinatownuse Chinatown in the 1960’s: I put this one in just because I’ve seen that old Shanghai Low sign in dozens of Chinatown pictures as far back as the 1930’s, and never realized before that it is still there.  CableCarBarnuse Washington Street near Taylor just up from the Cable Car Barn on the left: I put this one in just because I may have posted it already, but I don’t remember, and I’m too lazy to go back in the archives and check. Click on the link below for a view at the bottom of the hill looking up toward where we are from a picture I posted in July of 2015.

Charlie Chaplin Days in Niles, California, 2016

Chaplindaysopenuse Niles California displays its understanding and appreciation that one of the most iconic comic figures in motion picture history was created in Niles by hosting a Chaplin Days Festival every June. It can be argued that Chaplin’s similar tramp character appeared in several films before the five movies he made in Niles, but this sleepy town near Fremont put him on the map, and his little tramp walking down a lonely road in Niles Canyon is folklore. At the top is a image of Chaplin in Niles. Below, is a collection of Charlie Chaplins and leading ladies gathered for the Sunday’s second day of the festival. The girl in the black dress third from the left was a Paulette Goddard, Chaplin’s leading lady in ‘Modern Times’. The girl in the red hat was Edna Purviance, Charlie’s leading lady in the five movies he made in Niles.

Essaneyuse The Essanay Studio where Chaplin worked: Notice the houses behind the studio, those were bungalows build for the actors and actresses working at the studio, and although some are remodeled, they are still there today and can be seen in the bottom picture. The studio was demolished in the 1930’s and a fire station occupies the spot today.

Edna'splaceuse Charlie didn’t stay in the bungalows while in Niles. He spent his time at the main Niles hotel, and at this house where his leading lady Edna Purviance was staying. I ran this old picture before, but it’s worth a look at again. That’s Chaplin third from the left next to Edna Purviance, and the house they’re standing in front of today. The building on the right is the old Edison Studio where Chaplin originally premier his films in 1915. The theater has been restored, and Charlie’s films are shown in the same building during the festival and throughout the year.

Flaguse The flag in Niles today on this Sunday when I was out there: “The show must go on.” seems fitting for the Chaplin performers.

San Francisco in the 1960s

Aquaticcableuse I love this picture! Taken at Aquatic Park across from the Cannery Building in 1960’s, it has elements of a 1930’s or 1940’s scene, such as the stop light or the sailor on the cable car. However, the star of the picture is the grip man with the cigarette in his mouth turning the car. Passengers are not allowed to climb aboard the cable cars as they turn on turntable anymore, but I can remember doing that.  (Glenn Christiansen)

GHighwayuse I never get tired of pictures of Playland-at-the-Beach from Sutro Heights. However most pictures I’ve seen or have in my collection are from the 1920’s, 1930’s or 1940’s; I haven’t seen many from the 1960’s during the amusement park’s decline. Playland had gotten pretty old and tired by the time the top photo was taken.  (Vintage picture

Grottouse Sailors running in out of the rain at #9 Fishermen’s Grotto:  (Vintage picture

Haightashburyuse The corner of Haight and Ashbury in 1967: Wow, even the camera was on drugs!  (Vintage picture

franciscopowelluse Francisco and Powell Streets: (flickr)

reagancablecaruse California Governor Ronald Reagan, and Mrs. Nancy Reagan on a Powell Street cable car heading up Nob Hill just north of Post Street in 1966: The building the Roos/Atkins store was in behind the cable was demolished in the 1980’s and the Saks Fifth Avenue Building is there now.  (Vintage picture

JanisColeuse Janis Joplin on the corner of Cole and Haight Streets in 1967: This one is, kind of, sad. Also, I wonder if back then Janis would have looked at the girl in the cross walk today and thought, “Wow, what’s with that?”  (Vintage picture

Mementos from the Treasure Island International Exposition

TIslandguidebookuse The Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island ran from February of 1939 to September of 1940 with a seven month break from October 1939 to May 1945. The fair closed over seventy five years ago, and the personal memories are fading out. Still, a lot has survived to remember it by. I have a few items myself; at top, is a coaster from the Fair, and below is one of the official guide books.


The guide book has a great fold out map listing the fair’s attractions.

chanuse In the opening scenes of Charlie Chan on Treasure Island, (1939) Chan, played by Sidney Toler, flies in to San Francisco from Hawaii, landing in Clipper Cove next to the island. There are great scenes of views from the air of the exposition. In the middle, is the Sun Tower, and at the bottom is the curved Administration Building, still there today.

Kevinuse Another survivor of the fair is the Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts Building, one of three original structures still on the island.

Ferryuse Ferry Boats ran to the island regularly during the fair from the Ferry Building.

TIStatueuseIn August of 1939, my seventeen year old mother took a train from Grand Forks, North Dakota to spend the summer in San Francisco. Here she is on the right next to her cousin Frances at the Court of Honor fountains on Treasure Island. Notice the first statue to the left of them looking at the picture; original statues from the Treasure Island Fair, including that one, are on display in front of the Administration Building. I’m clowning around here, but with respect; this guy, I think it’s a guy, met my mom long before I did!

SallyRanduse One of the Premier attractions of the fair, (My mom better have missed this one!) was the Sally Rand Nude Ranch on the Gayway st the north end of the fair. The Gayway was the section of the fair with carnival rides and attractions.

Blackmaskuse I recently ordered a book of detective stories from the pulp magazines of the 1930’s and 1940’s at I was delighted to find the story, ‘Murder on the Gayway’ by Dwight Babcock, written in 1939, in the collection. The story begins and ends, at the Treasure Island Fair, in particular, the Sally Rand Nude Ranch. It has vivid descriptions of the attraction, as well as the rest of the fair.

“The Nude Ranch was a long, low building with a rustic Spanish-type front. In the heart of the Gayway and its most popular attraction, the barkers out front were made up like copies of the Lone Ranger and didn’t have to work very hard to lure customers inside at two bits a crack. The exhibit was coining money.”

The last word on the Cliff House, at least, until the next time I go there. (For the Louis’ Restaurant up the street, and the terrific breakfasts they serve)

CliffHouseopeneruse(  Lettersuse I don’t know, maybe if they put those giant letters back on it would help.  CHouseSutrosuse This vintage photo really captures how fun it once was out there.  (The Old Motor Magazine)  BBilluse “Hey, Bungalow Bill! What did you kill?”

Obviously, this was the fellow who inspired the nickname John Lennon gave his villain on the Beatles White Album. Buffalo Bill Cody was an army scout who won the Medal of Honor, a Pony Express rider, an Indian fighter, and a master showman. But he also killed a lot of buffalo, 4282 according to Wikipedia, and he didn’t always kill them for food. Still, he had his day in the City, and was an interesting visitor. Here he is at the entrance to the old gingerbread Cliff House with some of the Indians from his Wild West show.  Click on the link below to see where Danny and I tracked Buffalo Bill down in this area once before.