‘The Crowded City’ (For Alison)

‘The Crowded City’; that sounds like the title of a film noir movie, huh?

“As night falls, on the crowded city, the dames, the drifters, the dopers, and the deadbeats shuffle off, each to their destinations. In his dimly lit office away from the crowd, a weary tax consultant takes another shot from the whisky bottle in his desk, and wonders what it’s all about”.

This isn’t going anywhere, is it?

CrowdedMaidenlaneuseI don’t know what was going on in Maiden Lane in the 1955 vintage picture, but I’ve never seen it that crowded. The Union Square Lounge was a popular watering hole during the 1940’s into the 1960’s. It was where the Optik Store is now.

CrowdedUnionLoungeuse Jack Lemmon, in the center, goes into the Union Square Lounge at the beginning of his descent into alcoholism in the 1962 film ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’.

CrowdedKearnyuse Kearny Street at Post in December of 1946, at 8:35 AM: My picture was taken at 1:35 PM, and I wasn’t as nervy as the 1946 photographer. I got my little…… camera out of the street before I was run over! (Vintage picture San Francisco Chronicle)

CrowdedEddyuseSan Francisco almost got less crowded by three in this old 1940’s picture! Eddy Street used to cut through to Market Street here. The old 31 Streetcar Line that ran down Eddy to Divisadero Street would turn onto Eddy from Market right here. Now, Eddy Street stops at Cyril Magnin Street. The smaller arched entrance to the old Emporium Building is across Market Street in both photos. (SF Chronicle)

CrowdedPostStreetuse In March of 1957 an earthquake centered near Daly City shook San Francisco. This image from OpenSFHistory.org on Post Street east of Grant Avenue shows some of the confusion and alarm by people in San Francisco. However, I don’t think that there were any reported injuries.

CrowdedClayuseThere was a lot more than confusion and alarm over one half of a century earlier on April 18th 1906; there was death and destruction. This terrific photo by Arnold Genthe looking down Clay Street just east of Powell captures it all. Personally, I think it ranks right up there with his more famous picture one block over looking down Sacramento Street from Powell.

Crowded5thuse“Well that does it for me, I’m heading for Oakland!”

The southwest corner of 5th and market Streets after April 18th 1906: San Francisco got a little less crowded in more ways than one after this day. Thousands poured through the Ferry Building and left for Oakland to find a new home.

crowdedAlioto'suseThis little stretch of outdoor seafood shops at the end of Taylor Street at Fisherman’s Wharf was even more crowded in the 1930’s than it was today. The vintage photo is on the wall of the stairs leading up to Alioto’s Restaurant. Speaking of film noir, a number of movie and television noir scenes were filmed in this half a block of Taylor Street. Probably the most famous was ‘Nora Prentiss’ with Ann Sheridan filmed in 1947. The 1950’s television show ‘The Lineup’ also called “San Francisco Beat’, in my opinion the best on location show filmed in San Francisco, has a “bad guy” take down scene here in one episode. Also, a lady who works for the Market Street Railway named Alison Cant introduced me to a 1946 movie entitled ‘That Brennan Girl’ that shows a scene featuring the outdoor crab pots on Taylor Street.

Crowdedlineupuse‘The Lineup’ television show ran from 1954 until 1960 on CBS and was very popular. It featured historically entertaining locations such as a bomb scare at Seals Stadium, a suicide attempt behind the Cliff House where police drive their patrol car down the walking path to behind the restaurant, and a scene filmed at Fleishhacker Pool with a great look at the swimming pool and the old Pool house. I’ve only been able to find a few poor quality DVDs of the show. In this episode, in the upper left image, police close in on a lunatic at Fisherman’s Wharf who has been shooting people and planting bombs around San Francisco. The bad guy is the man in the center of the lower left image. The man to his left is a police officer pretending to be a customer. At the upper right is the police officer’s partner hiding behind a rack of postcards. I would have spotted him. In the lower right the cops take him down before he can draw his gun. The scene was filmed in front of the entrance to #9 Fishermen’s Grotto.

CrowdedtakedownuseThe spot where the police “take down” in the above  set of pictures from ‘The Lineup’ occurred:

CrowdedBrennanGirluse In ‘That Brennan Girl’, Mona Freeman portrays a rip-off artist named ‘Ziggy Brennan. (I like that name) Set during World War Two, Ziggy steals a watch from a sailor, but winds up going to lunch with him at Fisherman’s Wharf at a table overlooking the boat lagoon. Naturally, they fall in love, and naturally, they get married. Naturally, he dies in the war, and naturally, she has a baby.  Because of Ziggy’s past associates, society  judges her as an unfit mother. The top image from the film is how Taylor Street in front of Alioto’s looked in the 1940’s. This movie has some interesting on location San Francisco scenes for a B movie including a great tracking scene at the end along Market Street and the cable car turntable at Powell Street.

CrowdedBrennantwouseThe same stretch of Taylor Street seen in the top image from the above set from ‘That Brennan Girl’ and the Fisherman’s Wharf Lagoon from Alioto’s Restaurant:

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