‘Still more pictures from the 1980s’, soon to be followed by ‘Still, still more pictures from the 1980s’, in turn, to be followed by ‘Still, still, still more pictures from the 1980s’

Not really, I don’t think I have that many more 1980s pictures. As I have mentioned before, I was really into slide photography back in the 1980s. The film was more expensive and you had to have some type of projector to look at the pictures, but the quality was the best of any of the photos I took. What’s more, although I couldn’t have known it then, slide pictures convert to digital pictures much clearer than scanned snapshots. These are more updates of slide pictures I took from 1983 to 1987 to start out the Memorial Day Weekend. This weekend, we’ll be remembering a lot more brave men and women that have gone since I took the original pictures; many not even born yet back then.

Still801stStuseMarket and First Streets looking toward the Ferry Building in 1985: The novel concept of running old streetcars along Market Street was just getting started then, and it developed into today’s wonderful F and E Line of vintage streetcars.

Still80Pier26usePier 26, directly under the Bay Bridge, on an overcast day in 1983, and an overcast May 25th, 2019. Those are the old Belt Line Railway tracks, no longer in use back then, on the right in my old picture.

Still80EmbarcaderouseThe Embarcadero, south of the Ferry Building, with the infamous Embarcadero Freeway in 1983: The freeway was demolished in 1991. There was a Giants baseball game at Giants Stadium today, (I’m calling it that, see?) so fans were heading to the game near here in my current picture, something that would have been a concept out of science fiction in 1983.. The game turned out to be as gloomy for the Giants as the weather was in my old shot.

Still80MuniuseSteuart Street and Don Chee Way south of Market Street and another look at the Embarcadero Freeway in 1984: The building on the right where the Muni Museum is now wasn’t built in 1984.

Still80CalifStuseI think this one turned out the best, and I got a break when the sun came out for a bit. This is looking down California Street from Stockton. My original picture was taken in 1983. There were no cable cars running in San Francisco at that time. The system had shut down in 1982 for repairs and wouldn’t reopen until June of 1984. It’s hard to imagine two years without cable cars nowadays! (It was hard to imagine then too) You can see the work being done on the cable line down at the bottom of California Street in my 80’s picture.

DLandAdventurelanduseI also made it back down to Disneyland for my annual “Memorial Day or close to it” tradition this week. Here is a slide from 1983 at the entrance to Adventureland.   Either people have stopped having babies, or they don’t rent strollers in Disneyland anymore.

DLandAdventureuseLooking back in the opposite direction from the previous picture near the entrance to Adventureland in 1987: That’s my sister and her four kids:  The one on my lap didn’t stop making faces before the camera until she got into her thirties, or something like that. Hmm, I didn’t remember that I used to part my hair.

DlandTomLanduseIt’s a whole different Tomorrowland with different looking Monorail Trains today than our 1987 trip here to Disneyland. That’s my little brother Pat on the right. We lost Pat in 1995, and I never can recapture all of the fun I had in Disneyland that I had when he was along.











Gone for good (For Elainna)

These are images of places and things from a past era in San Francisco, gone forever. Unlike ghosts, they’re not coming back. GoneStocktonuseThe old and beautiful streetcars that rumbled their way through town like this one at Stockton and Vallejo Streets in 1916. All four buildings on each corner of this intersection in 1916 are still there. (Vintage picture, Charles Smallwood)

GoneGGBuseThe little Alpine houses for privileged army families under the Golden Gate Bridge: (James Fitzpatrick’s ‘Cavalcade of San Francisco’)

GoneTerminaluseThe old 1939 Transbay Terminal on Mission Street: And what did San Francisco get to replace it, a beautiful new Transbay Terminal that’s been closed for almost eight months as of this writing because of engineering blunders. There are a lot of theories about why that happened, but none them make any sense to me. (SFMTA)

GoneCablecaruse15 cents cable car rides: Powell Street at California in the 1960s: I hope she got everything she has on there! They don’t let passengers climb on the back of the car here anymore. (Fred Lyon)

GonePier7usePier 7 at the foot of Broadway: Demolished by the 1980s, it’s now a walking pier. (Opensfhistory.org)

GonePier7twouseIn the 2014 version of the movie ‘Godzilla’, the monster leaves San Francisco past Pier 7 after destroying most of the city.

GonefoguseThat combination of fog, cars, and the Embarcadero that made San Francisco a perfect setting for a film noir movie: (Fred Lyon)

GoneDolores1useThe small snack bar in Dolores Park where Roman Rodriguez strangled Hilda Pagan in 1952: In the vintage photo from Hannah Clayborn’s ‘Historic Photos of San Francisco Crime’ police question Rodriguez at the spot of the murder. When I took my picture several years ago the building where Rodriguez and Pagan met was still there, although a top portion had been added.

GoneDolores2useIn 2015, the building where Hilde Pagan was murdered was demolished during the Dolores Park renovations.

MatadorupdateBarnaby Conrad on the left and Herb Caen bowling with booze bottles on the sidewalk in front of El Matador in the late 1950s:  (Maxminimus.blogspot.com)

Some say that the magic of San Francisco is gone. I suppose there may be some truth in this. Maybe it left with Herb Caen; or possibly Barnaby Conrad, who died in 2013. Conrad’s El Matador Nightclub on the southeast corner of Broadway and Kearney Street has to rank right up alongside places like the Trocadero or Ciro’s in Hollywood for the number of celebrities who visited there. The years from when he opened his club in 1952 until it closed in the middle of the 1960s has to be the most glamorous period in San Francisco history. The array of the famous who visited his nightclub is almost unbelievable!  Here’s some of the people who came to El Matador: John Steinbeck, Ava Gardner, David Niven, Danny Kaye, Alex Haley, Orson Welles, Maurice Chevalier, Truman Capote, Duke Ellington, Ricardo Montalban, Sterling Hayden, Erskine Caldwell, Lenny Bruce, Richard Burton, Lena Horne, Jack Kerouac, Jonathan Winters, Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Mary, Pickford, Rita Hayworth, Jimmy Stewart, Hedy, Lamarr, Robert Mitchum, Vivien Leigh, Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Marilyn, Monroe. Can you imagine that? (Source: Barnaby Conrad’s ‘Name Dropping’)

This is an update to a picture that I originally included in the post. A viewer named ‘Sleuth’ wrote in a comment to this post that the location of my original picture was not the actual location where El Matador was, but the nightclub was across Broadway on the north side of the street where the sports bar is today. Sleuth was correct and I thank him or her for pointing out my error.







A Nob Hill Mystery

Business was slow, and I wasn’t too particularly overworked. I was rubbing two nickels in my pocket together to try and make a dime, (What movie did I get that from?) when a man came into my office. He wanted to hire me to find his missing daughter in her twenties who hadn’t been heard from in over a month. He showed me a picture of her.

“Nice looking dish! I remarked.

He quickly pulled the picture back. It was the wrong one. That was a picture of his side-dish. He handed me the correct photo. She was cute too, but I’d rather have been searching for his side-dish. I told him that I’d take his case.

“Do you need a retainer?” he asked me.

“Probably, but dental work is so expensive!” I answered.

He looked at me funny and set two C notes on my desk. He left my office.

NMysteryCalifuseI made some telephone calls and learned from one of my “ears” around the City that the girl had been seen recently up on Nob Hill. I took a few slugs of rye from the office bottle, put my hat somewhere on my head, (I got that line from Raymond Chandler) and headed up California Street. (Vintage photo, Fred M. Springer Collection, 1959)

NMysteryfataleuseAh, mysterious Nob Hill. There’s a femme fatale for sure in front of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. I wondered if she knew anything about the girl. I showed her the picture, but all she kept saying was, “Buy me a drink, handsome?”

NMysteryMasonuseI realized I was being followed and ducked behind a car on Mason Street. (John Gutmann, kadist.org)

NMysterymaybysoneuseNMysterymaybys2useI spent the afternoon searching for her. There are a lot of girls on Nob Hill and I followed up on many possibilities, but all I got were a lot of nasty stares. (Fred Lyon and the Shorpy Archives)

NMysterynightoneuse I knew I was still being followed; you can’t fool an old trooper like me who has had bill collectors following me around most of my life. I decided to resume my search after dark. (Fred Lyon)

NMysterynight2useThe problem with searching for the girl at night was that I’m nearsighted, so even if I would have bumped into her accidentally, I probably wouldn’t have recognized her. (Fred Lyon)

NMysteryPUnionuseI started out the next day. I felt that I was being followed again, and looked over toward the Pacific Union Club. Some old detective was shadowing me; his polite smile didn’t fool me. He looked too old for this racket! (Shorpy Archives)

NMysteryHuntington1useI had learned that morning from another one of my tipsters that the daughter may have been seen going into Huntington Hotel. When I got there Harbor Command had arrived before me. They must have been searching for the girl too.

NMysteryHuntington2useRalph Baxter set up a stake-out in front of the hotel.

NMysteryHuntington3useMy old snooper was still following me. He’s so indiscreet!

NMysteryHuntington4useBut Harbor Command wasn’t interested in the girl. They were tailing two thugs who left the hotel and climbed aboard a California Street cable car. When the cable car left, Harbor Command followed it.

NMysteryChalmbersuseI headed over to Grace Cathedral, one place I hadn’t checked yet. When I got there Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) was waiting for me.

“Where’s my witness?” he demanded.


“To use your own parlance, you blew it!” he added.

“Look, Chalmers, I don’t like your questions or remarks any more than Frank Bullitt did when you said the exact same lines to him in ‘Bullitt’. We’re not looking for the same person!”

GE DIGITAL CAMERABut Chalmers was right, I “blew it”. It turned out that my tipster was wrong. It wasn’t Nob Hill she was seen at, but Telegraph Hill. It was an easy mistake to make; they both end with ‘Hill’. I never did find her. I gave ten dollars of the two C’s back to my client and spent the rest of it up at the “Weeper’s Corner” at the Top of the Mark, looking down at the Huntington Hotel and wondering who the girl was.

Along the Embarcadero

I often used to put my trusty old bicycle into the back of my trusty old truck, and head to San Francisco for a bike ride. However, like trusty old me, my trusty old truck isn’t what it used to be, so I don’t drive it over to San Francisco too much anymore. However, last Saturday, the last weekend of April, I did bring my old bike back to San Francisco again for a ride along the Embarcadero. As often, I relied on my “go to guys”, opensfhistory.org, for vintage pictures of the San Francisco waterfront to go along with my nostalgic mood. I rode from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Ferry Building and back on a beautiful and sunny Saturday morning.

bikeFranciscanuseI started at the Franciscan Restaurant at the Wharf and headed south by southeast. No, not ‘North by Northwest’. The Franciscan has been remodeled since the 1960 picture, but it still has that odd shape.

BikePier43usePier 43 in 1960: Pier 43 has been removed now, but the frame entrance is still there. The old Balclutha sailing ship, seen in the vintage photo, used to be docked there before moving over to the Hyde Street Pier. He’s thinking, “Hey, don’t look at me! I didn’t poop all over this fence!”

BikeMasonuseWhoa! Opensfhistory says that these cars were hit by a Belt Line train near Mason and Jefferson Streets during the 1960s. Let’s hope they were parked and empty at the time. That’s the old Fisherman’s Wharf Travel Lodge in the background of both pictures. The Boudin Bakery and Restaurant is here today where the crash was.

BikeBeltlineuseHere’s a Belt Line Engine running along the Embarcadero past Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower across from Pier 29 in 1957.

BikeFilbertuseFilbert Street heading toward Telegraph Hill circa 1950: The portion of the hill past the boxcar in the old picture is where the wooden Filbert Steps of Telegraph Hill are. A bandaged Humphrey Bogart climbed the Filbert Steps three years earlier in the film ‘Dark Passage’. Levi Plaza is on the waterfront side of Filbert Street today.

BikePier15useAn organized labor demonstration by dock workers at Pier 15 in 1937: This was organized three years after the 1934 waterfront strike where police fired on Longshoremen.

BikePier9useA fuzzy but likable picture of Pier 9 taken in 1966:

BikeBroadwayuseBroadway at the Embarcadero in 1965: This was a far north as the Embarcadero Freeway, built in 1957, reached.

BikePier1useAlmost underneath the Embarcadero Freeway way at Pier 1 in 1960: Did I tell you that I was one of the last people to drive on the Embarcadero Freeway on the day of the Loma Prieta Earthquake, October 17th, 1989, before it closed forever?    “Yes, Tim, many times.” We’re getting close to the Ferry Building.

BikeFerryboatuseStopped to rest at the Ferry Building before heading back. A ferryboat chugs over to the Bay Bridge and the Oakland Mole in 1952: By that time the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges were making ferryboat travel across the Bay obsolete. By the 1960s the ferryboats were gone. The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake that shut down the Bay Bridge for one month jumpstarted new ferry boat Service across the Bay to the Ferry Building. One of the new ferryboats, sleeker and more environmental friendly, is heading toward today’s Ferry Building boat dock in my picture.