Some of my favorite links

Click on the image below for a wonderful 1927 map of San Francisco that can be zoomed in for a close up view. (

Click on the photo below for a zoom in look at  George Lawrence’s incredible kite photograph of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake.


streetcaruse Click on the link below for Muni’s moveable map to the old streetcars running on the F and E Lines.

expocityClick on this link below, and it opens up to David Rumsey’s terrific version of a map that you can zoom in on for a great look at 1912 San Francisco. Although, it navigates better on a PC. Alright, so they spelled Fisherman’s Wharf wrong, who’s gonna notice!–?sort=Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No&qvq=q:1915%2Bmap;sort:Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=0&trs=421 

I’ve saved the best for last. Click on the link below to open the David Rumsey Map Collection 1938 aerial photo composite of San Francisco. You can zoom in pretty close for a wonderful view from above of what San Francisco was like back then.



“Now watch the summer pass. So close to you.”

summerscheveuse It’s the last week of summer in what Herb Caen called “the city with no seasons’, and that holds true for this week. The weather has been cloudy and overcast on some days, and warm and sunny on others. I got mostly sunny weather for my visits this week.

This is at the northwest corner of Post Street and Grant Avenue in the 1920’s:

“I see dead people.”

The Shreve Jewelry Company was at this corner since 1906. Although the engraving and marker are still on the building, Shreve moved to a different location on Post Street in 2015.  summerctownuse East meets East on Grant Avenue and California Street in 1939:

“He’s not going to post another Chinatown picture, is he?”

Sorry, it’s my O.C.D. (Obsessive Chinatown Disorder). Actually, this picture is interesting to me because of the hotel with the Japanese name Yamato in the middle of Chinatown, and the probability that when Pearl Harbor was bombed two years after the vintage photo was taken the name of that hotel was almost certainly changed. (Elizabeth Gray Potter)  summerofarrelluse Where O’Farrell Street, Market Street, and Grant Avenue come together in 1910: This is another of the comparisons I enjoy doing where the locations appear to have changed very little. Way down O’Farrell Street where the cameras are facing, St. Mary’s Cathedral can be seen in the modern picture. Pope John Paul II said Mass here on his visit to San Francisco in 1987.  summerplayitsamuse Most pictures of the Hyde Street cable car line to Aquatic Park are taken looking down from Russian Hill with its dramatic view. This is a rare look back up from the bottom of the hill as two cable cars begin their climb up Hyde. That’s Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in the top photo in a scene from the 1972 film ‘Play It Again, Sam’  summerusquareredouse Everybody makes mistakes. That’s why there are editors; except, they goofed here. In this picture of Union Square from Elizabeth Gray Potters’ 1939 book, ‘The San Francisco Skyline’, that’s not the Mark Hopkins Hotel on the left; it’s the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Ssshhhh!  summergentheuse Speaking of mistakes, I spotted one here that really surprised me. Arnold Genthe has been referred to as the father of modern photography. Before the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, Chinatown was a mysterious and forbidden place full of opium dens, brothels, and frequent shanghaiing. When Genthe went in and took his famous pictures he opened the door to the tourist trade that’s there today. The famous picture at the top right, circa 1900, from his book of Chinatown identifies the picture as being at Jackson and Dupont Street, which is now Grant Ave. I’ve even seen images of this photo with Genthe’s writing stating it was taken at Dupont and Jackson. When I took my first then and now photo earlier at Grant and Jackson something didn’t seem right. When you wander around San Francisco for as long as I have been doing you feel things. The cable car coming down Jackson Street made me curious, as well. I checked on every thing I could find about every cable car line that ran in San Francisco and the Jackson Line stopped at Powell and never came down to Dupont. It had to be Sacramento or Clay Street. I contacted a fellow at the Market Street Railway System and he said he’d look into it, and get back to me, which he did the next day. He said it couldn’t have been Jackson Street and must have been Sacramento, which I agree. Arney must have been tired when he labeled his picture that day from walking around Chinatown, and I can appreciate that. Here’s a last week of summer picture of the correct corner at Sacramento and Grant that I took today. The summer crowds have dropped off quite a bit, and in reference to the gift shop, the Warriors will be starting another season soon, and the Giants are still in the hunt for the playoffs next month.

North by Southeast

northturkeyuse That makes about as much sense as Hitchcock’s ‘North by Northwest’ but he got away with it! These are pictures of San Francisco from different points on the compass.

North: Fort Point in 1945. Aw, he took his turkey to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Now, there’s a pet lover!  (San Francisco Public Library)

northhydeuse Northeast: A cable car chugs up Hyde Street in the 1920’s and today. The old reservoir on the left is no longer in use. There’s normally a low amount of traffic on this stretch of Hyde, and I could stay for hours watching the cable cars go up and down the hill. Usually, more seem to head down the hill than up which might make one wonder if some are going into the Bay, but they just stack them up at the bottom of the hill.

northjacksonuse East: The view down Jackson Street from Mason looking east toward the Bay Bridge.

northscaruse Southeast: The worst accident in Muni’s history occurred at this intersection in 1918, just east from the Cow Palace. A streetcar lost it on, what is now, Geneva Avenue, and jumped the track as it made the turn here onto Schwerin. The utility power plant building, now owned by PG&E, is still in the corner.

northhearstuse South: This was the house on Morse Street in the Crocker Amazon District where Patty Hearst was captured by the F.B.I. in September of 1975. Hey, where did the Daily News get off by calling it “Frisco”?

northmomuse Southwest: I wasn’t even a naughty wink by my mom yet when this picture was taken. Here she is on the left with her cousin Frances  at the old Sloat Blvd. entrance to the San Francisco Zoo, then called Fleishhacker’s Zoo, in 1939 when she was 17. This old Works Progress Administration project from the 1930’s is fenced off now to visitors and the San Francisco Zoo doesn’t respond to requests concerning why; maybe, to protect it.

northkiddielanduse West: Balboa Street and the Great Highway at Playland-at-the-Beach. Balboa is the street going uphill on the left. Kiddieland was a portion of Playland with rides and attractions for children. This is about as west as you can go in San Francisco without getting wet, and even that isn’t guaranteed! (Western Neighborhood Project)

northpalacelegionuse Northwest: I couldn’t get their names, but these ancestors of the lady news anchors of today’s CNBC are reporting at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in the early 1930’s. (Voices out of the Fog)

‘Laughter on the Hill’

laughteropenuse In my August 1st 2016 post ‘Out in the Field’ I wrote about a book I had recently read called ‘Laughter on the Hill’ by Margaret Parton. In the book Margaret writes about a year she spent in San Francisco looking for a job just before Pearl Harbor. Although outdated, and the events of her social life and zany parties may seem dull at times compared to now or even the 1960’s life of Holly Golightly from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, her descriptions of, historical recaps about, and obvious affection for San Francisco makes the book an interesting story of the City in 1941. At times Margaret identifies her locations by name, but other times you have to use your knowledge of San Francisco to determine where she’s writing about. These are a few passages from her book pertaining to some of her adventures on Telegraph Hill.laughterwsquareuse Margaret’s search for a place to live in the second chapter ‘Gingerbread Versailles’ leads her to a run down house on Telegraph Hill. On the way, she passes what is obviously Washington Square in North Beach; I think the only fat old man with a red face in the park the day I took this picture was me!  laughterinion1use She crosses Union Street at Montgomery on the approach to Calhoun Terrace. Her description of the view from the cliff at Calhoun Terrace is still accurate today.

laughterunion2use Margaret moves into what she describes as a shack with a “pointed red roof outlined with white gingerbread carving” at this location. The building has a leaking roof, bad plumbing and is in overall poor shape. On the left is a cartoon from the book of where Margaret will spend her year in San Francisco, and in the middle of the picture on the right is the house today. The part about cutting down the level of the street and stranding the garages of the houses is amazing! Incidentally, the Michael Douglas character, Steve Keller from the television show ‘The Streets of San Francisco’ also lived in this house, and Lee Remick’s Kirsten Arnesen from ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’ lived just across the street.

laughterunion3use A photograph from the 1940’s of this location shows how accurate Margaret’s description was; the paint on the bay window of her “shack” didn’t match, and the garages here really were stranded from street work.


No detective work is necessary to find this location of one of Margaret’s adventures. After one of her late night drinking parties, her guests decide to walk down to Vanessis’s Restaurant on Broadway for a hamburger. One of the guests has an enormous St. Bernard dog that they don’t want to leave alone in Margaret’s house, so they take “Heidi” along. Big mistake! I’m not sure of the date of the top photograph, but it’s definitely Vanessis’s.

“Excuse me, miss, can you tell me if Vanessis’s is around here?”

Vanessis’s Restaurant closed in 1997.

Miss Burke’s School – Who was Constance? (For Holly)

Connieopenuse Earlier this week, I found a 1932-1933 Yearbook from Miss Burke’s School for girls at the bookstore in the San Francisco Main Library. I had never heard of the school, but the book was interesting as it has autographs from most of the high school senior girls graduating to a girl named Constance, who the yearbook belonged to. There was no Constance among the senior girls or the faculty, and none of the names of the students from the lower classes are in the yearbook. I became curious about who Constance, who must be long dead by now, was, and also about Miss Burke’s School.

Conniesignituresuse Nearly all of the thirty three graduating seniors had written loving and thoughtful sentiments to “Connie” and I learned from the autograph written by Frances Crosby Beedy at the lower left of the above picture that Constance was a freshman! Wow, when I was a freshman, asking a senior to sign your yearbook was a good way to get punched out! (I get a kick out of what Janice Sanborn in the upper right wrote. I’m going to have to borrow that sometime if I’m ever asked to autograph a yearbook.)

Conniefront This was the building on Jackson Street in the Pacific Heights District where Miss Burke’s School was in 1933. This is now the San Francisco University High School.

Constcourtyarduse The top picture was one of the pages of photographs from Connie’s yearbook. Four of the pictures were taken in the courtyard behind the main entrance. Holly Johnson, the Director of Alumni Relations at San Francisco University High School, was kind enough to send me a photograph of the courtyard today. The yearbook picture at the lower right is the closest to the current picture of the courtyard. The archways seen on the left of the main building, which were also on the other side of the courtyard, have been filled in with additional wings since then.

ConnieMarchtimeuse The March of Time events of the school year are a great time capsule. For instance, on March 9th the Intermediate IV class went to visit the Golden Gate Bridge. Construction on the bridge had only began two months earlier in January of 1933, so this would almost make them pioneers; one of the first groups of people to visit the Golden Gate Bridge! On March 24th, the school “swarmed down Lyon Street” to watch “Old Ironsides” come into the Bay. The USS Constitution did, indeed, sail into the Bay in March of 1933 ; something else I’m just learning from Constance’s yearbook. Check out the link below.

Connieswarmuse This would have been where the school “swarmed down Lyon Street” to get a glimpse of “Old Ironsides”. The building with the white dome is the Palace of Fine Arts. Behind it is the Bay.

Connieintelluse The Intelligence Test and Myths pages show that the girls had a wonderful sense of humor! I love “Work and answer 5 out of the 3 problems given below:”

Connie'spageuse The girls in Constance’s freshman class all signed on one separate page, and they tell us a lot about the young lady, such as that she had a crush on her Dramatics teacher, Ronald Telfer, her “silent love” and she slapped “Jimmy” in the face! I missed it when I first went through the yearbook, but she signed this page. Her name was Constance Crowley!


I found a text on the internet co given in 1994 by a Constance Crowley Bowles entitled ‘A California  Heritage: The Bowles Collection of 18th Century Porcelain’ and plowed through it until I found what I was looking for; Constance Bowles was born in 1919 and started high school at Miss Burke’s School in 1932. There was my girl, and she had still been alive in 1994, bless her heart!

Crowleycloseuse Constance had, indeed, gone far in life, and she only died a little over six months ago in February of 2016. She was 97. The link below has her obituary from SF Gate where this picture of her is from. Rest in peace, Connie.


More Themeless Thursday – Another collection of pictures with no connecting theme (For Yvonne)

ThemeDoloresuse 18th and Dolores Streets, across the street from Dolores Park, in the 1950’s: They’re painting a mural on that building now! Well, no matter how artistic it will be, it won’t look as nice as, “SANDWICHES, MILK SHAKES, HOT DOGS, HAMBURGERS, ICE CREAM, and Coca Cola”. (SF Images)

ThemePowelluse Powell Street, looks like the mid 1960’s: The tall building in the center of both pictures is the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. For decades its Starlight Room at the top rivaled the Top of the Mark. Many people, including Herb Caen, preferred it. Then for some stupid reason, they allowed two enormous and ugly buildings to go up blocking its north and east view leaving it with, basically, just a view of Union Square. What a shame! (vintage everyday)

ThemlessCalifornisPowelluse California Street at Powell on Nob Hill: Sometimes it works out just right! (vintage everyday)

ThemlessChinatownuse I never get tired of the magic of Chinatown. I’ll bet I’ve posted more pictures on my blog from here than any other spot in San Francisco. I don’t have much patience for crowds anymore, but the crowds in Chinatown never seem to bother me! I’m not sure why that is. (vintage everyday)

MarHopkinsuse“They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky.”

Actually, this was Mark Hopkins mansion on the corner of California and Mason Streets not the Addams Family house. Burned down in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, it’s now the site of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. (San Francisco History Center)

Graceuse“Rome wasn’t built in a day” but it might not have taken as long as Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill did to build. Started in 1928, the church wasn’t completed until 1964. Still, the wait was worth it, it’s one of the most beautiful churches in San Francisco. In the vintage picture taken from the Top of the Mark circa 1960 it still wasn’t finished. Click on the link below if you want to explore Nob Hill further.

ThemlessBayBridgeuse The Road Not Taken, I mean, taken before the road. (SF Images)