Telegraph Hill – Part 20 (Or maybe Part 30, I can’t remember how many posts I’ve done up there)

I thought I was through posting updates for 2017, but I headed up to Telegraph Hill on Christmas Eve. I had a feeling the crowds were going to be light and I wasn’t wrong. It was picture peaceful up there, and I felt like I could have stayed up there all day. So…… I stayed up there all day! Here’s a few Christmas Eve then and nows. Just in case you’re not familiar with, can’t remember, or don’t appreciate the beauty of San Francisco, I’ll end up with a 360 degree tour of the City from the top of Coit Tower.

2018AltauseHere are some of the old houses on Alta Street that were saved from burning after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. Legend has it that many of the houses on Telegraph Hill were saved from the fires by residents who poured wine on them to dampen them before the flames approached. These may be a few of them.

2018CalhounoneuseUnion Street just off of Montgomery in the 1940’s: Margaret Parton moved into the second house from the left and spent a year writing about her adventures in San Francisco just before Pearl Harbor in her book ‘Laughter on the Hill’. You can still see that house just behind the stairs in the center of the current picture. I posted a story about her book in my September 6, 2016 post. (Vintage photo from the Charles Cushman Collection)

LaughterHere’s a cartoon from ‘Laughter on the Hill’ of Margaret Parton deciding if she’s going to move in.

2018MontgomeryuseA film noir looking picture of Montgomery Street looking south toward Union Street in the 1950’s: I’m not positive but this might be a Fred Lyon picture. His pictures are usually clearer than this, but I found it on Pinterest and it is probably a copy of one of his pictures.

2018MontgomerytwouseThis 1930’s picture is looking the opposite way from the previous picture, north along Montgomery from Union, during the 1930’s.

2018calhountwouseThe classy looking Neautra-Kahn Apartment on Calhoun Terrace in the 1940’s: You don’t turn around when you drive into this street, you back up, and you do it very carefully or you may end up driving off Telegraph Hill!

2018CoitoneuseNow I’ll offer you the closest thing I can get to a virtual tour of San Francisco from the air. They open many of the windows now at the top of Coit Tower so you can get fantastically clear pictures of San Francisco when you look out the openings! (Just don’t look down) We’ll start by looking southeast across the Embarcadero to the Bay Bridge.

2018Coittwouse Moving counter clockwise we’re now looking east toward Yerba Buena and Treasure Island.

2018CoitthreeuseLooking northeast we get a great view of Pier 39, Alcatraz, and Angel Island.

2018CoitfouruseLooking roughly north is Fisherman’s Wharf, too good not to zoom in on. The two ships from World War Two berthed at Pier 45 are the submarine the USS Pampanito, and the Liberty Ship the SS Jeremiah O’Brien.

2018coitfiveuseLooking northwest you’ll see the Golden Gate Bridge and Russian Hill. At the top of the second street from the left coming down Russian Hill is Lombard Street, “The Crookedest Street in the World”, if you don’t count Vermont Street on Potrero Hill.

2018CoitsixuseLooking west is the heart of North Beach with Washington Square and Saints Peter and Paul Church.

2018CoitsevenuseSouthwest is Nob Hill.

2018CoiteightuseDirectly south is Downtown San Francisco. That little cluster of buildings on the right is Chinatown.

2018CoitnineuseWe’ll end up where we started from and a terrific view of the Ferry Building.

Adios, 2017 (For Janice)

Sure, it’s only  the eve  before Christmas Eve, so there’s still a few days left of 2017. I may still win the lotto or fall in love again before the year ends, but if not, all in all it wasn’t a bad year to me. So I’ll close out the 2017 year with a few then and nows of some pictures that I took during the last three months of the year.

2017HydeuseThe “Hyde Street Grip” at Chestnut Street on Russian Hill, looks like in the 1960’s: I snapped my picture a split second too soon for a perfect comparison, but the cable cars were running slow and it was too cold up there today to wait for another one heading downhill. (Vintage Everyday)

2017CHouseuseThe Cliff House in the 1950’s: I haven’t been able to get a full frontal of the restaurant from Sutro Heights since I’ve been taking pictures because of the trees that block the view today. However, in November I found a walking trail that winds along the Sutro Heights mountainside that allows hikers to get a clear view if the Cliff House like long ago.

2017ccaruseThe Powell and Market Street cable car turnaround in the late 1960’s: December’s cold weather in San Francisco made the cable car passenger line even lighter this week than in the 1960’s. (Vintage Everyday)

2017WitchitauseThe San Francisco Skyline from the Bay in the mid 1970’s and during Fleet Week, 2017:

2017YerbaBuenauseSan Francisco Bay looking east from Telegraph Hill in 1880: No Treasure Island, no piers, and no Bay Bridge.

2017GGBridgeuseThe art deco Golden Gate Bridge Toll Booths in the 1950’s: Although they’re obsolete now, I hope they keep them; they’re as much a part of the bridge as the famous span is. (Vintage Everyday)

2017LombardA suitor on a scooter! This is near the approximate spot he was chugging up in the Life Magazine picture, Lombard Street, just down from “The Crookedest Street in the World”, but a little further down the street in order to get the view today. The building behind his left shoulder is the building the couple are walking past in my photo. In the background is Telegraph Hill with Coit Tower and the two spires of Saints Peter and Paul Church in North Beach.

2017MarketStMarket Street at Powell circa 1908: On the left is the Flood Building, across Market Street in the center are the towers of the Call and Humboldt Buildings, and on the right is the Emporium Building. (Charles C. Pierce)

2017powelluse Powell and Ellis Streets at twilight in the 1950’s: (Vintage Everyday)

“We’ll build a new San Francisco” (For Ed)

That was the rally cry at the end of the 1936 film ‘San Francisco’ starring Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Jeanette MacDonald. However, when these photos were taken just after the 1906 Earthquake the issue was in doubt.

RuinsMasonuseMason and Market Streets looking north toward Nob Hill: (Vintage picture from

RuinsOfarrelluseLooking east along O’Farrell Street: The domed Call Building in the center was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River at the time. You can see the remodeled Call Building, now called Central Tower, in the center of my photo. (

RuinsEmporiumuseSan Franciscans crossing Market Street toward the Emporium Department Building as the fires head up Market Street.: The Call Building is already on fire in the background. (Moulin Studios)

RuinsThirduse3rd Street at Mission Street looking north: You can see the Call Building (Central Tower) peeking out on the left in my picture. The old gothic Mutual Savings Bank Building, another survivor, is in the center of both pictures.

RuinsTurkMasonuseMason, Turk, and Market Streets looking east: The Admission Day Monument on the left in the vintage picture is now on the corner of Montgomery and Market Streets. (

RuinsFlooduseThis is a rare early color photo of the San Francisco ruins by Frederick Eugene. On the left is the Flood Building, center is the Mutual Savings Bank, and on the right is the Call Building. (The Smithsonian Museum of American History)

RuinsOrpheumuseThe Orpheum Theater at Hyde and Market Streets was completely destroyed and has been rebuilt. (

RuinsplaygroundudeThe west side of San Francisco didn’t get off easy, either. The Sharon Building at the Children’s Playground in Golden Gate Park was heavily damaged. The domed Carousel Building is on the left. (SFMTA Photography)

RuinsSHilluseSome things were never rebuilt. At the top of Strawberry Hill in the middle of Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park was where the Sweeney Observatory once stood. It collapsed during the earthquake and is seen here in a picture taken shortly after the disaster. The ruins of the observatory are still up there and can be seen in my picture. It’s always a pleasure to meet people and talk with them when I’m working on these pictures. I met a really nice Park Ranger on top of Strawberry Hill named Ed, and I enjoyed talking about San Francisco history with him for a little while. (




Disneyland – Christmas Season, 2017 (For “Crisco”)

DLand1986I seem to be going down to Disneyland a lot lately; I think it’s known as “escaping from reality”. I haven’t been down there at Christmas time though since the top photo was taken in 1986.

dlandparadeuseA Christmas Parade in 1961 and a Christmas Parade in 2017: (Vintage picture from Gorillas don’t Blog)

DLandMatterhornuseNo Christmas Star on top of the Matterhorn today, like in 1968: You can still see the old People Mover tracks today. (Pinterest)

DLandFrontieruseThe entrance to Frontierland from a slide picture I took in 1983: They’re letting the place get overgrown!

DLandTIslanduseAnother 1983 slide showing Tom Sawyer Island and the Mark Twain Steamboat: They finally reopened Tom Sawyer Island, (now called the Pirate’s Lair) and the Mark Twain is sailing around the island again too.

DlandMTwainuseThe Mark Twain from the Tom Sawyer Island – Pirate’s Lair in 1983 and 2017: I haven’t been out to that island in I don’t know how many years!

DLandcanoesuseThe Indian Canoe Ride following the Mark Twain in the 1950’s: This looks like a photo from the Charles Cushman Collection.

DLandSkywayuseThe Matterhorn Skyway in another 1983 slide: I miss the Skyway ride.

DLandCircleuseWhere the ‘America the Beautiful in Circle Vision’ movie was: I remember seeing that for the first time when I was 16 and thinking that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen! (Duchess of Disneyland)

DLandCTreeuseThe Christmas Tree on Main Street in 1955, when Disneyland opened, and in 2017:

DLand2017StoogesoneuseOf course, I couldn’t get down there for a visit if it wasn’t for the brave firefighters battling all the L A Fires, and they’re not like the Three Stooges! My brother Kevin and I stopped in Hollywood on the way back to track down a few Three Stooges filming locations that I read about in Jim Pauley’s book about filming locations used by the Stooges. In ‘False Alarms’ from 1936, the Stooges are firemen. Curly gets the bright idea of rolling out the fire hoses across North Larchmont Street at Melrose where they cut by a passing streetcar. Moe’s not going to like this. This is the spot today. (Columbia Pictures)

DLandstoogestwouseYeah, Moe didn’t like it! (Columbia Pictures)

DLandStoogesthreeuseIn ‘Calling all Curs’ from 1939, the Three Stooges are peeking around the corner of Fernwood Street and North St. Andrew’s Place trying to find a lost dog named “Garcon” they were in charge of that was dognapped. Those trees sure have grown since the Stooges were there! We met a very friendly security guard at this location named Crisco, and he enjoyed learning that the Three Stooges filmed a scene at his location. (Columbia Pictures)

Long-ago people

LomgagoSerrauseLong-ago people from the 1920’s at the Father Junipero Serra statue in Golden Gate Park: (

Longagoconcourseuse“Do I have to stop this car?”

“You already did!”

They would have been parked about where the entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is today. That’s the back of the Band Concourse on the right.

LongagoStowLakeuseA vintage picture from the Shorpy Collection at Stow Lake with the old Rustic Bridge to Strawberry Hill in the background:

LongagoOceanBeachuse A long-ago family enjoying Ocean Beach in 1939: (Moulin Studio)

LongagoGGBusePedestrians on the Golden Gate Bridge on opening day in May of 1937: Obviously, you can’t walk on the road anymore, (although, I did once in May of 1987 for the 50th anniversary of the bridge) so this is as close of a comparison as I could get. (Moulin Studio)

LongagofifthuseLong-ago cars with long-ago people in them: This is on 5th Street between Market and Mission Streets near the old Mint Building. The Pickwick Hotel was where Sam Spade hid the Maltese Falcon before turning it over to the “Fat Man”. The Chronicle Building is in the background on the right. (SF Chronicle, SF Gate)

LongagoMontgomeryuseMontgomery Street at Sutter looking toward Market Street in the early 1950’s: I tried to compare the people in the old picture from today’s crowd, but the group in the vintage picture all look like people from a film noir movie, and the people in the current picture all look like something from ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ to me.  (SF Chronicle, SF Gate)

LongagoMaidenLaneuseMaiden Lane in the early 1960’s and long-ago people who may still be with us, except for the old man on the right: They reopened the old Xanadu Building in September of 2017, the only building in San Francisco designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, after being closed many years. It’s now an Isaia Clothing Store. That’s an interesting suit that fellow on the motor scooter was wearing; it’s like you are looking at it through 3D glasses. (John Whinham Doss)


Letting go of November

I like November almost as much as October. It’s the second full month of autumn, the weather hasn’t gotten too cold yet, and there’s still plenty of college football to watch. Like many people who think of August as the end of summer, November always seems like the end of fall to me. The problem with November is that on the days that aren’t cloudy the earth seems to move around the sun at an angle so that much of the city is in shadows. Anyway, on this brisk November 29th I thought I’d close out the month with a walk around Downtown San Francisco; and for the record, yesterday’s ridiculous verdict is NOT what San Francisco is all about!

NovemberKearnyuseMaiden Lane where it ends at Kearny in the 1940’s: “BOND TWO TROUSER SUITS”. You know, it’s probably just me, but I hate the word “trousers”, it sounds so old fashioned to me. I bought my very first suit at age twenty two at a Bond Clothing Store shortly before the company folded, but not the one on Kearny. Street. I bought mine at the one on Broadway in Oakland, and I didn’t get two pairs of “trousers”.

NovemberChronicleuseMint Street behind the old San Francisco Mint Building at 5th and Mission Street: Across the street is the San Francisco Chronicle Building, built in 1924. I subscribed to the Chronicle for many years and had a number of letters printed on their editorial page from the 1980’s to the New Millennium. Then the internet came along and you didn’t have to write letters to the newspapers anymore, you could just voice your opinion on Facebook. But to me the San Francisco Chronicle Building means “Mr. San Francisco” Herb Caen who spent most of his career here. I was proud to have met him once. His love of San Francisco will never be matched by anyone, and his sense of humor had a lot to do with shaping mine, only his jokes were funny. This is also ‘Maltese Falcon’ territory. That building in the shadow on the right is where the old Remedial Loan Company was, and still is. In the novel, Sam Spade makes Brigid O’Shaughnessy hock her jewelry here to come up with money for his retainer. “You’ll have to hock them.” Spade says to her. “The Remedial’s the best – Fifth and Mission.” Also, across 5th from the Mint Building is the old Pickwick Hotel where Sam Spade stashes the Maltese Falcon after it comes into his possession. (San Francisco Chronicle, SFGate)

NovemberMontgomery1910useMontgomery Street near Sutter Street around 1915: Three of the Buildings in the old photo are still around. In the center is the Palace Hotel, built in 1909. President Warren G. Harding died in office at this hotel in 1923. Just to the left of the Palace is the old Metropolis Savings and Trust Building, built in 1907. For many years a Bank of America has been located here. The building just to the right of the Palace has been demolished, but the one next to that is the old Crocker Bank Building, built in 1908. It’s now a Wells Fargo Bank and the top floors were removed at the end of the 1970’s.

NovemberSpriteuseOne of the little Dancing Sprites from the statue at Huntington Park on Nob Hill with the north tower of Grace Cathedral in the background, probably the early 1960’s: They’ve been moved around with remodeling so I couldn’t get an exact lineup. The building between Huntington Park and Grace Cathedral in the old picture has been torn down. (John Whinham Doss)

CathayredoNow, do you see what I mean about the November shadows? This might have been a good picture otherwise! Well, you still have Chinatown, Old St. Mary’s, and the Transamerica Pyramid Building. You also have the Cathay House on the corner of Grant Avenue and California Street. That restaurant goes back a long way! In fact, it can be seen in the 1947 Bob Hope movie ‘My Favorite Brunette’. (Vintage Everyday)

NovemberStMarySquareuseAn old postcard of St. Mary’s Square in the heart of Chinatown, and a perfect place to relax and enjoy a little “sweater weather” at the end of November: The statue on the left is of Sun Yat-sen, sculpted by Beniamino Bufano and erected in 1938.

NovemberFolliesuseThe old Turk Street Follies in the Tenderloin:


I wonder if they were talking about a debate! Seen here in 1971, the Turk Street Follies was in the building just below the Gene Compton’s Cafeteria Way sign. (