Charles W. Cushman was an amateur color photographer who took color slides around the United States and Europe from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. Although his travels were worldwide, he kept coming back to San Francisco during his life to take photos. Class is where you find it. Many of his San Francisco pictures were taken at ordinary places in the City that weren’t necessarily scenic locations, although he took many pictures at more popular spots, as well. The Indiana University has a collection of his slides on the internet. The pictures in this post are from that collection. Although I’ve posted a number of his pictures on my blog in the past, I’m not able to find a lot of information about Charles Cushman. He had a stormy marriage to his wife Jean who appears in some of his pictures, and at one time, she shot herself and him in a suicide attempt. They both survived. Cushman died in 1972. Let’s travel around San Francisco a little to some of the places Cushman captured with his camera long ago.
We’ll start out on Market Street near 3rd Street in 1957 looking toward the Ferry Building. The two dominant buildings on the right, the Southern Pacific Building and the PG&E Building, can be seen in my picture peeking out behind the newer Market Street buildings. Like most of Cushman’s photos, there’s a lot to look at, like the long gone Mobile Gas Structure and an old Greyhound Station.
We’ll head up Nob Hill to the Pacific Union Club on California at Mason Streets in 1952. Sometimes, I think the old cars are the best thing about Cushman’s pictures.
We move down Nob Hill to a cable car festival passing Sutter at Powell Street in 1955. It’s not likely that cable cars will ever be decorated like this again.
One block south from the previous picture and we’re on the corner of Powell and Post Streets during the Republican Presidential Convention that was held at the Cow Palace in 1964. We’re probably a long way from another Republican Convention hosted in San Francisco, as well.
Now we’ll go to a couple of those odd spots Cushman selected. This is on Jones Street looking toward Pacific Avenue and the valley between Nob and Russian Hills in 1952. Notice that the ‘New Russian Hills Market’, which hasn’t been “new” in a long time, was there on the northeast corner of Pacific and Jones in 1952, and still is.
We’ve moved over one block east from the previous picture to Taylor Street looking toward Pacific Avenue in 1952. The 76 Gas Station is gone and a tree hides where Taylor makes its climb up Russian Hill.
We’re meandering westward now. This is on the northeast corner of Laguna and Jackson Streets in 1952. I did a post on December 5th 2015 that covered the Whittier Mansion seen here. It was the German consulate before the Pearl Harbor attack. After war was declared between USA and Germany, government agents broke in and discovered that they had been spying on shipping movements through a telescope. Also, in 1958, Eli Wallach, “Dancer” killed his second victim in this mansion in the movie ‘Lineup’. PS, it’s also haunted! Well, of course; it would have to be! A building on the southeast corner of the intersection that wasn’t here when Cushman took his picture caused me to move out a little into Laguna Street to get the whole mansion in my picture.
Cushman traveled up to Pacific Heights for this shot looking east along Broadway from Baker Street in 1952. That Colonial looking mansion on the left was where Lana Turner supposedly lived in the 1960 thriller film ‘Portrait in Black’.
That’s all that’s left of the little cluster of buildings below Sutro Heights along the Great Highway between Balboa Street and the Cliff House. Charles Cushman took this picture in 1952. If you can zoom in on the vintage photo, you’ll see that the last building on the left housed the arcade attractions from the Musée Mécanique. When the buildings were demolished in the 1960’s, the attractions, many of them originally from Sutro’s Bathhouse, were displayed in a small room at the back of the Cliff House. When the restaurant was renovated in the new millennium, the items were moved to Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf, their current home.
Ocean Beach in 1961: He’s saying, “Don’t be shy, honey. You look great in your scandalously shocking 1961 swimsuit!” The vintage picture was taken looking toward Balboa Street and Playland-at-the-Beach at the Great Highway near where Fulton Street ends. I put the family somewhere around here; that looks like the the seawall ramp behind them. You can just see what looks like the top of a Playland sign peeking out over the seawall on the right. The building with the hoops on the top in the the upper right center of the 1961 picture was where the Playland Merry-Go-Round was. On the far left of the vintage photo picture is ‘Skateland’ in the building that was originally called ‘Topsy’s Roost’. The sitting steps of the seawall were removed by the 1980’s.