More Wharf wandering

I read somewhere that Fisherman’s Wharf is the second largest tourist attraction in California after Disneyland, and I believe it. During the summer, you often can’t tell the difference by crowd size of either. But winter is closing in and Fisherman’s Wharf has quieted down a little. ‘I Wonder as I Wander’; that’s an old Christian folk song from the 1930’s, popular around Christmastime. I had the song stuck in my head as I was taking these pictures. I sometimes wonder as I wander around San Francisco too, although not always with religious bewilderment, like the person in the song. Today, I was wondering what makes Fisherman’s Wharf so special, and it is special. True, the views of the Bay from certain spots here are stunning, but I doubt if most of the tourists ever see them. Sometimes it seems that the majority of the crowd accepts an hour or two of overpriced parking just to linger around the north end of Taylor Street past Jefferson. That’s okay too, it’s good for business. Me, I usually like to wander around where the bilge rats (the real ones) take their shore leave. Sometimes, it’s kind of  fun to explore the back areas of Fisherman’s Wharf and pretend that you’re a scalawag just off of a ship looking for an opium den, or something like that. However, most vintage pictures were taken at the tourist spots, like the pictures in this set, and they’re fun to visit too.

WharfTayloruseTaylor Street, looking south toward Russian Hill from Jefferson Street: I couldn’t get a date of this picture from, but it looks like the mid to late 1950’s: Notice the Standard Station on the left in the vintage picture. There was a gasoline station on the northeast corner of Jefferson and Taylor Streets from the 1930’s until the mid 1970’s. Originally it was designed to look like a ship, as you’ll see in the next picture.

WharfstationuseThis was a photo I took a few years ago looking northeast across Taylor Street toward where the SS Fill ‘Er Up, or whatever it was called in the 1930’s, once was. By the mid 1960’s the station was remodeled into a more  conventional and less interesting look.

WharfredandwhiteuseDon’t let the locals fool you; the Red and White Tour Boats are not just for tourists.  Like the Blue and Gold fleet, they are a relaxing boat ride with beautiful views of San Francisco that anybody can enjoy. Here’s a boatload of people getting ready to sail in 1950. (

WharfRWticketuseThe old ticket office for the Red and White tours in 1940:  (

WharflagoonuseFisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon in 1940: This is not only my favorite from the Charles Cushman Collection, but it’s also one of my favorite San Francisco pictures.

WharfGrottouse In 1935, Fishermen’s Grotto Restaurant at Stall Number 9 opened up on Jefferson Street. This view is at the front of the old restaurant looking toward Pier 45 in the 1930’s. (Gene Gallagher Photos)

WharfKinkadeuseJefferson Street looking west from Taylor Street: Life is not a Thomas Kinkade painting, unfortunately.

WharfeatsuseThis view has changed little since 1958 in this picture from, and I think it’s a fitting photo. Possibly, most people do come to Fisherman’s Wharf for the food.


3 thoughts on “More Wharf wandering

  • Did Mr. Kinkade paint more of San Francisco than other places in California? I am not familiar with his work. It is not my style. I know of only one painting of Los Gatos, and only because he gave a copy to the owner of Gilley’s Coffee Shoppe that was a focal point in the painting. He was one of the regulars at Gilley’s. They are both gone now.

    • He may have, Tony. He set a lot of his works in San Francisco. He has often been criticized as being more of a crowd pleaser than a true artist, but, Van Gogh died in poverty and Kinkade made sure that wasn’t going to happen. I like his San Francisco paintings because he shows a city that never was, and it’s fun to look at where he takes an artistic license. In his painting from this post, he has a cable car line running past Fisherman’s Wharf along Jefferson Street when there never was a cable car line along Jefferson. Most, if not all, of his San Francisco paintings are set in the rain, as well. I was never sure why, but to me it makes for a nicer painting. Keep in mind though, Tony, this opinion is coming from a person who once stared at the Mona Lisa for a long time waiting for something to happen inside of me, and it didn’t! LOL!

      • NO WAY! I don’t get the Mona Lisa either!
        I can see why people thought that he was more of a crowd pleaser than an artist. He painted what people wanted to see. If you ever see his painting of downtown Los Gatos, in front of Gilley’s, those cars belonged to his friends and neighbors. The old Mercedes Benz belonged to another downtown merchant (although do not remember which business they owned). The red car in front of the old Mercedes Benz was supposed to be a new (at the time) Buick Park Avenue, supposedly as a result of one of my rants about how bland yet popular the BMWs and Lexus were about town, and that the truly elegant American cars were not so popular. I like to tell people that the cat in the street was really Privet, the terrier, but it is really just a . . . cat. That just works for Los Gatos.

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