Two kinds of rain

To me, there are two kinds of rain in San Francisco; the romantic rain that you walk around in and wish that you were in love again, and the kind that just freezes your butt off. I took these over the past two weekends and got a little of both.

fogredo It was a little friendlier setting when I took my picture on the northeast corner of Mason and California Streets on Nob Hill than that spooky looking long ago picture! That’s the Fairmont Hotel on the left in both pictures. (California State Library)

raincrestuse Here’s another interesting picture at California and Powell Streets as a cable car begins its drop into Chinatown. The old Crest Garage is still there today, although, it is no longer that name.


It’s slippery navigating your way down Nob Hill in the rain when you’re wearing four year old sneakers! My photo was actually taken where the bottom of the hill on the left is in the old picture at Bush and Powell Streets. I took my picture before I found the vintage one, and I liked it so a found this close comparison from the OpenSFHistory website.

rainpowellbushuse A cable car at Bush and Powell Streets on a sunnier day in what looks like the early 1950’s: Those people hanging on the front end of the cable car in my picture look miserable!

rainmarketstuse I can’t get a date on this wonderful old picture of a parade on Market Street between Stockton Street and Grant Avenue, but it looks like the 1920’s. The crowned building in the background of the vintage picture was the San Francisco Call Newspaper Building. Sam Spade went into this building in the novel ‘The Maltese Falcon’ to find out when the ship that would bring the falcon to him was to arrive. The building survived the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, but the crown was removed in the late 1930’s, and it was remodeled to look more like the Daily Planet Building from ‘Superman’ or something. Now called the Central Tower, it’s the white and brown building at the center right of my picture. The Humboldt Building, built just after the earthquake, can be seen on the right in both pictures.

rainpowellellisuse Powell Street at Ellis in the 1950’s from a San Francisco Call Bulletin photo in the San Francisco History Center: Look at the crowd heading toward Union Square in my picture for the first weekend of Christmas shopping!

The Lady from Shanghai

ladyshanghaiuse Here’s another great film noir chase scene located in Chinatown from the 1947 film classic ‘The Lady from Shanghai’. I’ll set the situation up for you; Orson Welles plays a man being held in the old Hall of Justice on Kearny Street accused of murder. He fakes a suicide attempt by taking a number of pills, and escapes the building in the confusion. He flees into Chinatown trailed by his lover played by Rita Hayworth. Follow along as these two culprits race toward a movie theater encounter that would eventually lead to a denouement that’s one of the most famous scenes in film noir history.

kearnyuse Welles bolts across Kearny Street toward Portsmouth Square. Notice the buildings in the background on Clay Street; they haven’t changed a bit in seventy years!

portsmouthuse Rita Hayworth follows him through Portsmouth Square. The short and taller buildings behind her can be seen in the center of my picture. The Medusa effect has turned a lot of San Francisco’s public squares to stone instead of grass, and Portsmouth Square is no exception. That block of stone on the right in the movie image is the Robert Louis Stevenson Monument which was in the center of the square at that time.

pinestuse Welles looks back on the corner of Grant Avenue and Pine Street to see if he’s being followed. The pills he took in his phony suicide attempt are beginning to take effect. You can still see the Chop Suey sign today in the center of the middle picture. I moved over to the storefront to try to get the mirror image of the Sing Fat Building like the movie scene. I don’t have Orson Welles skills, but it wasn’t a bad try.

slowuse Orson passes the old Shanghai Low Club, seen in a vintage picture from the 1930’s in the middle. The long gone Shanghai Low Club became the Lotus Garden for a number of years, but the building is now empty. The lower portion of the red Lotus Garden sign at the top of my picture was once the Chop Suey sign seen in the previous picture.

mandarinunsideuseBeginning to lose consciousness, Welles ducks into the old Mandarin Theater on Grant Avenue. The Mandarin Theater is now the Sun Sing Center Gift Shop, but if you peek through the curtains in the back of the shop you can see where the stage used to be.

mandarinuse This is where the Mandarin Theater once was.

ritause Lovely Rita, not the one from the Beatles, follows Welles into the theater in an effort to convince him that she’s trying to help him. Before Orson passes out here, he realizes who the real murderer is. The next and final scenes would be out at the Funhouse at Playland-at-the-Beach for the famous hall of mirrors scene.

mandarinoutsideuse This vintage San Francisco Call newspaper photo from the San Francisco History Center was taken in front of the Mandarin Theater in 1944, three years before ‘The Lady from Shanghai’ was filmed. The fellow on the right is going into the theater.  There was a lesser known but just as fun to watch chase scene that I covered in January of 2016 from a 1949 filmed called ‘Impact’ Click on the link below if you’re interested in seeing that one too.

Another ‘Tim Tour’ (A thanks to Kevin for riding along and helping)

If you take the Hop On, Hop Off tour buses they’ll take you to places like the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf and those are fine places to visit, but if you take the Tim Tour here, I’ll take you up close to a cable car and the famous “Painted Ladies”. You’ll get a past look at the Portals of the Past and travel back to a World War Two change in Golden Gate Park. You’ll see San Francisco’s answer to the Swiss Alps, and I’ll show you where the lights are out and nobody’s home at a famous San Francisco landmark, at least for the time being! We’ll end up with a different view of the Cliff House than the one usually seen, complete with a celestial visitor!

timtourshydestuse Cable cars still “climb half way to the stars” on the “Hyde Street Grip” here on Russian Hill, and I got a nice smile from a passenger!

timtour3alamouse The famous “Painted Ladies” of Alamo Square from a different view than the one that’s now folklore: (Bob Hollingsworth)

timtour3portalsuse The doorway of A. N. Towne’s mansion was all that was left standing of his Nob Hill home after the 1906 Earthquake. It was moved out to Lloyd’s Lake in Golden Gate Park in 1909. Known as the ‘Portals of the Past’, here it is seen in an undated photo from whatever they call the decade before the 1920’s and yesterday.

timtour3moonbridgeuse The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is one of the few attractions that remain from the 1894 Midwinter International Exposition. After Pearl Harbor when anti Japanese sentiment ran high, the name of the Garden was changed to the Oriental Tea Garden. The name was changed back to the Japanese Tea Garden after World War Two. The left photo was at the Moon Bridge during the war.

timtour3tramuse The Sky-Tram ran behind the Cliff House from 1955 to 1961. It carried passengers across part of the Pacific Ocean behind the Sutro Bathhouse from the Cliff House to a waterfall at Point Lobos, seen here in these pictures, and back. It’s just a faded memory today and few people have heard of it.

timtour3mlaneuse The only building in San Francisco designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is at 140 Maiden Lane. Built in 1949, a number of galleries and businesses have been housed there, the last being the Xanadu Gallery, but as of last Thursday evening it remains empty, and, kind of, spooky looking. The picture on the left is from the 1950’s.

timtour3angelchouseuse The old drawing from 1910 at the top appears to be the view from behind the Cliff House. They labeled it “New” then, and it’s, basically, the same building that’s there today. You can only get to this spot at low tide, (or if you’re an angel, and I had no idea what that was all about) I’ve never been this far behind the Cliff House before so I don’t know what those butts up on the wall are for, but there are some interesting caves down here that you would drown in when the tide comes in.

timtour3angeluse I’ll just pretend I’m taking a picture of Seal Rocks!

Street Closure Sunday – The Embarcadero

Last Sunday was another street closure day in San Francisco; the Embarcadero was closed to auto traffic from Broadway to AT&T Park. Got a chance to dust off the old bike and take it over on BART for a ride and some then and nows courtesy of


The north side of the Ferry Building in 1941:


A military parade at Pier 3 in the early 1930’s:


“Hey, did I tell you the one about the farmer’s daughter and the traveling salesman?”

Army troops at Pier 1 during the labor strike that shut down the waterfront in 1934:


The old Southern Pacific Building looking across the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building in 1940:


The YMCA Building south of the Ferry Building in July of 1938:


The Embarcadero at Folsom Street looking north toward the Ferry Building in 1938: All of the old piers here were demolished in the 1980’s. Also, the Embarcadero has been reconfigured here for the Rincon Point Park with its giant “Cupid’s Arrow” on the right.


The Hills Brothers Coffee Building with the Bay Bridge in the back in 1938:

“Lazing on a sunny afternoon” at Fisherman’s Wharf

I read somewhere that Fisherman’s Wharf is the second largest tourist attraction in California next to Disneyland. I don’t doubt that claim at all.

lazincoupleuse The Fisherman’s Wharf Lagoon in 1960: Alioto’s has gotten much larger. Saturdays in San Francisco are made for couples, and a special thanks to the nice couple who obliged me with a comparison pose. The girl is named Joyce, but I couldn’t remember the fellow’s name. If you two wind up checking out my blog, mention the guy’s name in the comments so I can thank him too.

lazinwharfuse The Wharf Lagoon from Jefferson Street in the 1950’s:

lazinaquaticparkuse The cable car turntable at Aquatic Park in the 1960’s: There’s a cable car down there somewhere in the modern picture and a much bigger line.

lazinghiraduse Ghirardelli Square in the 1960’s, complete with mini skirt:

lazinwharfwestuse The boat lagoon looking toward the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930’s: Time hasn’t taken the atmosphere off this spot at all; it still looks just like a little fishing village in Italy. The building to the right of the ferryboat was demolished in the 1960’s and the little brown building that’s there now is a chapel.

The Shopping District before the onslaught (For Jon Chaisson)

Enjoying a relatively calm Veterans Day in Downtown San Francisco: In a few more weeks it will be Black Friday and this area will look similar to the Oklahoma Land Rush!

vetodoulsuse Lefty O’Doul’s on Geary Blvd. from Union Square in the 1970’s:

powellttableuse It’s a rare day when there are more people waiting to board a cable car in the 1940’s at the Powell Street cable turntable than there were today!

vetpheasantuse The corner of Powell Street and Geary Blvd in 1948:

floodbldinguse Market Street at Powell with the Flood Building on the left just after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire: Buildings were being blown up to prevent the spread of the fire. The crowned Cal Building on the right, a survivor of the disaster as well as the Flood Building, is behind the dome roofed Humboldt Building built after the earthquake.

vetctownuse Chinatown will get its share of holiday shoppers as well in a few weeks.

Twilight in the City (For Diana of Cinema’s Muse)

The evenings this past weekend in San Francisco were the about the prettiest I’ve seen all year.

twilightgearyuse Geary Blvd., west of Mason in the 1950’s: Carol Channing was appearing at the Curran Theater. I learn something new about San Francisco everyday; when I was researching this location I found out that the old Paisley Hotel, now the Union Square Plaza, is where a woman named Florence Cushing jumped to her death in 1911. See the link below from the Bold Italics web site. I should have done this one last week on Halloween or All Souls Day! Don’t worry, this post gets more cheerful.

twiightpowelluse Powell Street up from Bush in the 1950’s: I gave it a good try with my mobile phone camera, and I had to be on the other side of Powell because trees block the view on that side now. One day, I’ll redo it with my expensive camera I bought years ago and never use. It doesn’t fit in my shirt pocket! The San Francisco State College is now the Academy of Art University.

twilight-capitola-gallery-use Thomas Kinkade’s picture of Powell Street at twilight is set one block up from where I was at in the previous picture near Pine Street and Powell. It’s true that I don’t know a lot about art; I once stared at the Mona Lisa for ten minutes when I was in Paris waiting for something to happen, and I’m not sure it did. I also know that many art critics dismiss his paintings as tripe, but Kinkade’s San Francisco pictures make me feel good, and that’s just the way it is. Let’s see, he has the Manx Hotel on the wrong side of Powell Street, the Bay Bridge south of Market Street, and, probably, a dozen other things I haven’t noticed yet. Eh, I still like it. (Capitola Gallery)

twilightchinatownuse Grant Avenue at Clay Street in the 1950’s: The Empress of China Building on the right wasn’t built yet. The Elite Company is now the Jing Ying Gift Shop.

twilightfwharfuse This 1975 Peter Stratmoen picture at the corner of Taylor and Jefferson Streets in Fisherman’s Wharf is of particular interest to me. On the corner where the Z Backward K Gallery, or whatever that is now, was once where the Sea Captain’s Chest Gift Shop used to be. You can see their sign in the twilight shadows of the old photo. My first memory of going to San Francisco was when my folks took me to Fisherman’s Wharf when I was a child. I remember that it was a cold and overcast day. Well, it was! I had never seen anyplace in the world like the Sea Captain’s Chest shop. I remember my dad buying me a souvenir called The Sea Captain’s Magic Kit or something like that, and I loved it! At this intersection Lee Remick takes a taxi to Candlestick Park to deliver ransom money in order free her sister Stefanie Powers in the 1962 film, ‘Experiment in Terror’. See the next photo.

twilightremickuse  twilightpieruse It’s been awhile since I’ve been out on the Van Ness Municipal Pier at twilight. I forgot how pretty San Francisco looks from here when the sun starts going down.

twilightghirardelliuse Ghirardelli Square, a little bit earlier in the evening than the old postcard:

Lunch at Union Square (and thinking about Tuesday’s elections)

Vintage photos compliments of


Union Square in 1960: No, they didn’t move the Dewey Monument; I just couldn’t get a perfect lineup because they’re putting up the holiday attractions. The City of Saint Francis is getting ready for the Christmas Season! The beloved City of Paris Department Store was demolished in 1980.


A pro marijuana demonstration near the southwest corner of Union Square in 1964; Proposition 64 comes to mind. I can’t tell which is higher up from the ground, her dress or his pants! If that fellow is an example of how wholesome marijuana is, he’s a bad argument!


Same pro marijuana rally: The street preacher doesn’t seem too happy about the demonstrators. At first, I thought I got a picture of Hillary Clinton on the right when I got back to the office; I always wondered what she looks like in jeans!


Richard and Patricia Nixon crossing Powell Street from the St. Francis Hotel toward Union Square at a rally for his presidential run against Kennedy in September of 1960: He lost. (Trust me; there are people who don’t know that!) Most of the buildings on the north side of Union Square in the back have been replaced.


Darn, everyone was enjoying the birds, and then Alfred Hitchcock came along and screwed everything up!


The northwest corner of Union Square in 1958: I like the old traffic signals better. Now that’s what San Francisco needs for election week, more Old Crow billboards! Actually, I only drank a bottle of Old Crow once with two girls named Laura and Merrilee when I was 17 and we were supposed to be in school. We got so drunk, we swore off drinking! Merrilee and Laura may have kept that pledge! Wikipedia says that Old Crow was the favorite of Ulysses S. Grant; another person to win the Presidency who knew nothing about politics!