Incidentally, did you know that the old Cliff House, like a chameleon, would change colors during different times of the year, and periods of the day? On evenings with a blazing sunset on the horizon, it would appear red like the top left picture. During the months of autumn, it would take on a brown, rustic hue, as at the top right. As the darkness of the night approached, it would turn black, like the picture in the lower left. On sunny spring mornings, the reflection from the Pacific Ocean often turned the building blue, as seen in the picture at lower right. Okay, you’ve already caught on that I’m teasing; this was how the Cliff House was painted during different periods from the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s. For more on the Cliff House click on the link below for a series of posting I did in September of 2015 about the western side of San Francisco.
New York City has Broadway, Paris has Champs-Élysées, London has Oxford Street, and San Francisco has Market Street. I’ve seen all four, but Market Street is home. It starts at the Ferry Building where reminders of the nautical and transportation center this area once was still exist, The Embarcadero, the Southern Pacific Building, the Matson Line Shipping Building, now the PG&E Building, and, of course, the Ferry Building. Moving up to Montgomery Street, this is the “Wall Street of the West” area, and where the money is. Next stop is the shopping district, where Stockton and Powell meet Market. On “Black Friday” the day after Thanksgiving, this area is more like a combination of Disneyland in the summer, Times Square on New Year’s Eve., and Mexico City during the Soccer World Cup Championships; PACKED!!! Farther up from here, you’re on your own, this is the Tenderloin. It’s often crazy, and not pretty! This spot was also once known as the Theater District with only two reminders left of San Francisco’s version of the “Great White Way”, the Golden Gate Theater and the Orpheum. Our tour ends at Civic Center. This is the hub of city government and its officials; where the really crazy people are!
Our tour starts at the Ferry Building. After World War l, cable cars stopped running on Market Street. They were replaced by streetcars and what were known as “Dinkeys”; a combination, of sorts, of a cable car and a streetcar. Here’s a Hinky-Dinkey at the Ferry Building in 1947 along with what the caption reads is a “Super Twin Motor Coach”.
A great bustling shot of Lotta’s Fountain at Geary, Market, and Kearny in 1930. In 1999, Lotta’s Fountain was restored to its original size and moved back to the original spot it was at before it was extended in 1916.
Across Market Street is the old Call Building at the beginning of the Twentieth Century and today after its 1938 remodeling. Notice Lotta’s Fountain in its original size and location.
4th and Market Street in 1945; no John Payne and Alice Faye movie, but many of the buildings across Market can still be seen today; the Phelan Building at the far left, the old First Nationwide and Chronicle Building, the two reddish buildings in the center, and the Hobart Building, just behind them.
6th and Market Streets in 1947: You can see the Flood Building through the haze of both pictures on the left across Market Street.
Two angles of a crash in front of the old, and long gone, Paramount Theater at 1066 Market in 1940: Let’s hope that the accident wasn’t serious, and that none of the cream doughnuts were damaged!
Another photo in front of the Paramount from 1939: The girl at the bus stop looks, kind of, cute! From here on out this is, not particularly, my favorite stretch of Market Street.
Jones and Market, looking toward Twin Peaks in 1939: I have no idea what that coat is that’s attacking that lady, but I hope she made it home okay!
More trouble at Jones and Market Streets! Looks like some type of accident, but it doesn’t look too serious.
A military parade at 7th and Market Streets in 1947: Dr M. O. Garten, offering free consultation, Dr. V Libkits, Dentist, Rosenberg’s Health Food Store, but I don’t see the law firm of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe. All of the buildings they’re parading past have been demolished, but the dark building in the background can still be seen on theright.
The Golden Gate Theater opened in 1922. Just about every performer in the business has been on the stage here from Judy Garland to Diana Ross.
Hyde at Market Street with the Orpheum Theater on the left in 1957: That looks like a hole in the left rear end of the bus. Air conditioning!
We end the tour at the Orpheum Theater at Hyde and Market Streets. This Grand Lady opened up in 1926 as a vaudeville house, and still packs them in today.
Tourism has changed the Golden Gate Bridge Promenade drastically since this 1940’s picture was taken. I think it’s a very romantic picture.
A heartbreaking image of a mother comforting her frightened child on Telegraph Hill looking toward Russian Hill and the Golden Gate just after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire:
San Francisco Police chase Buster Keaton down Powell Street past Washington in a scene similar to a Keystone Kops movie in the 1922 short film ‘Day Dreams’. It’s remarkable to me how well this location compares to today!
Fisherman’s Wharf at dusk in the 1950’s: This one was a “labor of love”; the top photo just might be my favorite San Francisco picture.
Hyde at Greenwich in the 1950’s: I should have waited for a cable car like Fred Lyon did, but I enjoyed the scenery too much.
Another Cushman Collection photo; men at work, at 3rd and Mission in the 1960’s: I like the girls at work in the modern picture too.
“Go ahead, give him a call. He’ll go out with you.”
The Fisherman’s Wharf Lagoon in June of 1940: “Come all ye young sailor men, listen to me; I’ll sing you a song of the fish in the sea!” Behind where Alioto’s is today was the enormous gas tank that stood in Fisherman’s Wharf from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. The old picture is from the Cushman Collection of color photographs at the Indiana University.
Another great picture from the Cushman Collection of color photos from the 1930’s through the 1960’s, this one from 1953.
“Hey Mister, can you help us?”
“I know, your ball rolled down the street and you want me to get it for you, right?”
“Uh, uh! Our friend rolled down the street!”
Hyde at Lombard Streets: To the right and out of the picture is the “Crookedest Street in the World”. When driving in San Francisco, remember, cable cars always have the right of way. By the way, that large house on the corner once belonged to Fanny Osborne Stevenson, the wife of author Robert Louis Stevenson.
This one is right in my backyard! Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland filmed a scene in Downtown Hayward from the 1973 movie ‘Steelyard Blues’. The film was not well received as it was made shortly after Fonda’s controversial visit to North Vietnam that many people resent her for to this day. Here Sutherland spots Fonda on a bus, and chases her down Mission Blvd to the B Street corner, and the same location today.
At a McDonald’s several blocks from AT&T Park, a movie line that, I think safe to say, is of historic significance, was first heard. In the fourth “Dirty Harry” installment ‘Sudden Impact’ from 1983, Clint Eastwood utters the immortal words, “Go ahead, make my day.” while punking down a bad guy. This line was so popular that President Ronald Reagan used it in referring to his veto pen if Congress presented him with any further tax increase bills. However, the restaurant was not a McDonald’s back then. McDonald’s sure spruced up the pole that was behind Clint Eastwood when he entered the restaurant!
After the April 18th 1906 Earthquake, about the only thing left standing on Nob Hill was the entrance to the A. N. Towne mansion on California Street. One year later, on April 18th 1907 when the top photo was taken, the city was rebuilding and the pillars were still there. “Well, we might as well get rid of that doorway now. Throw it out in Golden Gate Park.” Today, it’s the ‘Portals of the Past’ at Lloyd Lake. (Okay, I sneaked one of me in).
The Cliff House in 1957 in what, just might be, the best picture of the Cliff House I’ve seen. I’ve been going out there since my mom and dad first took me there when I was around eight years old, and I still go out there all the time. There seems to be a pattern here!
Barbara Lawrence looks back at the Ferry Building after arriving in San Francisco in the 1949 film ‘Thieves Highway’. From the look on her face, she had a rough boat ride! Behind her is the Southern Pacific Building, built in 1916.
Now, you didn’t think I was going to leave Chinatown out, did you? This rare early 1940’s Kodachrome picture captures Chinatown beautifully! I also got a pretty good line up on this one.
In the 2014 version of Godzilla, (the year 2014, not the 2014th time it was filmed) Godzilla wanders off into the Bay next to the Pier 7 walking pier at the end of the film after demolishing just about all of San Francisco.
“Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”
The Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty Ship from World War Two can be seen through the old Pier 43 arches.
This was the scene that got me started on these then and nows. I was watching the 1948 movie ‘The Lady from Shanghai’ a few years back. At the part where Orson Welles escapes from the old Hall of Justice and runs across Kearny Street to Portsmouth Square in the rain, I thought, “I know where that is! I wonder what it looks like now?” There are some fine then and now photographers, and I don’t pretend to be any better, but I don’t think anybody enjoys doing this more than I do. (Good for you if you spotted the 1948 ’99¢ Store’ on the corner of Kearny and Clay Streets)
Mason Street on Nob Hill: (Fred Lyon)
The Fairmont Hotel: (Fred Lyon)
City Lights Books, North Beach: (Phil Palmer)
The Fairmont and the Mark Hopkins Hotel: (Fred Lyon
The stretch of Market Street from Powell to Hyde used to be San Francisco’s “Great White Way”. The building left of the Woolworth’s sign was demolished for Hallidie Plaza. All of the movie palaces are gone now.
Golden Gate Park on a sunny day: It’s as good as it gets: (Vintage photos from the San Francisco History Room)
The Conservatory of Flowers:
The old Band Concourse, one of the original structures from the 1894 Midwinter International Exposition still in the park:
Prayer Book Cross, above Rainbow Falls, an often overlooked gem in the park. You can just see it peeking out between the trees. The hill across what is now John F. Kennedy Drive is too overgrown now to get a good picture from it , so I had to take it from the bottom of the hill.
Spreckels Lake: They’ve smoothed the edge out a lot today, but it doesn’t look as natural anymore.
The Dutch Windmill, and the old Beach Chalet with its wonderful WPA Murals:
The old stone streetcar bridge and the Murphy Windmill across what is now Martin Luther King Junior Drive: This is a very interesting spot to me. Once long ago a streetcar line ran along Lincoln Way and crossed Golden Gate Park over to Playland-at-the-Beach at this spot. A walking trail is now what’s left of where the tracks ran. The bridge was anchored into the hill on the left in the modern picture, and another hill across the drive to the right.
Below, are movie posters of films made in San Francisco or with San Francisco settings. How many have YOU seen?
Taylor Street on Russian Hill: If that person parking taps into the car on the passenger side, they’ll all go over like dominos! (Phil Palmer)
The old Humboldt Building from Ellis Street in the 1950’s: (Phil Palmer)
Ah, the scourge of North Beach, the pizza pusher! The old Beatnik hangout, the Tea Room, has been remodeled and is now Maggie McGarry’s. Hope that other fellow in the doorway wasn’t doing what it looks like he was! (Phil Palmer)
Washington Street up from Stockton: Be nice to your sister, kid! I had to, and I didn’t like it anymore than you do! He’d really have to look out for her today with all of the construction that’s going on there.
“Leave us aloooooone!”
I’ve seen this scary movie! They’re from outer space and when their eyes light up, you disappear or something! No, wait, that was ‘The Village of the Damned’. Actually, these kids annoyed here by a photographer on Kearny Street have, long since, grown up and had kids of their own who have also grown up and had their own children. (Phil Palmer)