Labor Day Weekend, 2018

With the Labor Day Weekend approaching and the unofficial end of summer, I thought I’d post a few vintage pictures of some “working class heroes” from the past, and the jobs they did around San Francisco.

LaborPalaceuse This was a big work order out at the Palace of Fine Arts. In 1964 the 1915 survivor from the Panama Pacific Exposition of the same year was demolished and rebuilt. The moat was drained so the vintage picture is closer to the structure. (SF Gate, San Francisco Chronicle)

LaborFBuildinguseStreet cars and a Belt Line Railroad train look like their racing under the pedestrian walkway of the Ferry Building in what must have been a busy work day in the 1940’s. (San Francisco History Center)

LaborCHouseuseA facelift or maybe just a painting being done on the Cliff House in 1978: This was the Cliff House that I loved the best and have the fondest memories of.

LaborEddyuseSometimes, it’s not about working in the City, but about looking for work, which this lady at Eddy and Powell Streets in the 1960’s may have been doing. Or, she may have been looking for the address of an ex boyfriend she was stalking! I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Eddy doesn’t cut through to Powell anymore, but stops at Hallidie Plaza. The Flood Building behind her was the location of the flagship San Francisco Woolworth’s Department Store which had covered up the building with some kind of neo-deco look, if there is such a thing, at the time. You can see the Powell Street cable car tracks in the vintage picture but no lines, and the cable cars were only 25 cents a ride then, and a lot of times they didn’t even take your money. (SF Chronicle)

LaborWharfuseFishermen bringing in a haul on an early workday morning at Fisherman’s Wharf in the 1930’s: They go out to sea in the middle of the night and bring in their catch long before the tourists get to Fisherman’s Wharf.

LaborCrabuseThis picture I took for a previous post of a guy selling crabs at Fisherman’s Wharf makes a nice comparison with this 1940’s photo at Fisherman’s Wharf. (SF Chronicle)

LaborsbagsuseIf you don’t think that was a lot of work stacking up those sand bags in front of the old Telephone Exchange Building on Grant Avenue in December of 1941 then you’ve got a job here with me! This building routed most long distance calls in and out of San Francisco at the time, and was considered so important that the sand bags were piled up to protect it from bomb damage just after Pearl Harbor. There was a real concern at the time that San Francisco would be bombed by the Japanese soon.(SF Chronicle)

LaborGrantuseA little further down Grant Avenue near Market Street, probably near the same time as the previous picture, some type of delivery work is being done. Maybe they were putting sandbags in front of the wrong building!

“Hey, you guys, it’s further up the street!” (SF Gate, the San Francisco Chronicle)

Laborprostitutes1917use “Working girls” in San Francisco: This is an interesting story I learned of recently. On January 25th 1917 approximately 300 prostitutes stormed the Central Methodist Church at Leavenworth and O’Farrell Streets to confront Reverend Paul Smith, one of the main crusaders against prostitution in San Francisco. “Hell hath no fury like a harlot scorned!” The ladies told the Reverend most of the women needed the money to support their children, and they could not survive on wages they could earn at other work. The confrontation became heated, and also a little fantastic! One of the ladies said that “it was men who were to blame for the prostitutes’ lot in life. It was men who sought out prostitutes and other men who profited from their trade.” When Reverend Smith asked them if they would be willing to do housework, one of the ladies answered, “What woman wants to work in a kitchen?” Although Reverend Smith appeared to be sympathetic, he wasn’t a “forgiving” pastor, and it was clear that the ladies weren’t going to change his mind. A crowd had gathered outside the church as the “fallen angels” stormed out, many of them covering their faces. (Found SF, and the San Francisco Chronicle)

LabornewspaperuseLabormagdelenesuseThe San Francisco Chronicle issue of the incident and the “Magdalenes” leaving the church:

Labor2017marchuseOn January 25th 2017, a march was held on the 100th anniversary of the prostitutes’ demonstration. (Nation Reports)

LaborLeavenworthOfarrelluseThe demonstrators marched to the intersection of Leavenworth and O’Farrell Streets where the church once stood.  ( . Below is a link to the Found SF site and an article about the original demonstration.


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