Things to wonder about; today, anyway. (For Caroline from Belgium)

WonderFBuildinguseConstruction on the Embarcadero Freeway in 1957 that would imprison the Ferry Building for over thirty four years: I wonder why they ever built that thing. (SF Chronicle)

WonderBroadwayuseBroadway, where the Embarcadero Freeway ended, looks like the early 60s: I wonder what San Francisco would have been like if they had completed the freeway. It was supposed to go all the way along the waterfront to the Golden Gate Bridge when it was designed. (SF Chronicle)

WonderCalifuseCalifornia Street down from Stockton Street in 1948 and a picture I took in 2017: I wonder what the House of Lee was. The building to the right of the House of Lee in the vintage photo was called the Trafalgar Building. Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Alan Ladd, and Peter Lorre, filmed a scene in that building in the 1947 film ‘My Favorite Brunette’.

WondeerJoanuseI wonder what Joan was looking at?  Joan Crawford and Jack Palance in a behind the scenes photo on Hyde Street near Lombard during filming of the 1952 film noir movie ‘Sudden Fear’. It couldn’t have been the tourists on Lombard Street because they hadn’t started gathering back then. The camera view is looking south toward Greenwich Street. They still had the cobblestone on Hyde Street back then. (

WonderVertigouseMysterious Judy Barton (Kim Novak) thanks “Scottie Ferguson” (James Stewart) for pulling her out of San Francisco Bay in a poster scene from the 1958 movie ‘Vertigo’. The scene was in front of Scottie’s house on the northwest corner of Lombard and Jones Streets. I wonder if Alfred Hitchcock had any suspicion that he was filming what would arguably be his most studied movie, except for possibly ‘Psycho’, and the quintessential San Francisco film locations movie. (

WonderBullittuseWalter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) and Captain Sam Bennett (Simon Oakland) in front of Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill in a behind the scenes photo during the filming of ‘Bullitt’ from 1968: That’s the Bank of America Building on California and Kearny Streets going up in the background of the vintage picture. I wonder if the new building under construction on the southeast corner of Powell and California Streets will block the view from here of the B of A Building when completed. The steps leading up to Grace Cathedral have been remodeled since 1968. (

WonderPowellusePowell Street climbing Nob Hill in the 1940s: The building on the right in the old picture is the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The Starlight Room at the top of the hotel once had some of the greatest views in San Francisco, rivaling the Top of the Mark. I wonder why the Union Square Marriott built that plain looking hotel and completely blocked most of the view from the Starlight Room. How rude was that?

wonderbluechouseI wonder if they’ll ever paint the Cliff House blue with waves again like they did in 1972.





7 thoughts on “Things to wonder about; today, anyway. (For Caroline from Belgium)

  • House of Lee was a restaurant, I think! There was another location in Oakland and we used to go there for dinner in the 60’s. My dad’s first name was Lee and I was sure he owned part of it!

    • I think sensible heads prevailed, and stop completion, Tony. I’ve seen drawings of what it was to be like. The freeway would continue along the waterfront past Fisherman’s Wharf, run along the Marina Green to the Presidio, and continue through the Presidio to Golden Gate Bridge. This would have completely ruined most of the Bay waterfront of San Francisco.

      • That would have been crazy. The portion that was built was crazy as it was. I had seen it in pictures. It sort of makes one wonder who thought it was a good idea. In San Jose, it so annoys me to learn that some of the most visual unappealing buildings were designed by architects in other countries . . . not architects who immigrated here and became familiar with local culture, but architects who live and work in places like Germany. The rotunda of the new City Hall looks like it is fresh from Berlin.

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