Snapshots from the past

“Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away.”

Paul Simon was playing at the Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park this weekend while I was taking these pictures. These are a few stills around San Francisco from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. The colors on the old pictures may not all be as brilliant as the ones in Paul’s song, but maybe they faded over the years.

SnapsfirstuseA streetcar turns onto First Street from Market in the 1960’s heading toward the Transbay Terminal. Buses are returning into the new Transit Terminal this weekend, but no more streetcars. That’s the Crown Zellerbach Building with its novel turquoise blue shades in the background. (Market Street Railway)

SnapsCalifGrantuseCalifornia Street at Grant Avenue in the 1950’s: You can have the patience of Job but I don’t think you’ll ever get a shot of two cable cars lining up here going up and coming down from Nob Hill. I don’t think they do that anymore; at least not while I waited. (Vintage Everyday)

SnapsHuntingtonuseHuntington Park on Nob Hill looking toward the Mark Hopkins Hotel in the 1958: (Vintage Everyday)

SnapsSLowuseGrant Avenue in Chinatown between Pine and California Streets in 1965: That’s Old St. Mary’s Church in the background. The sign from the old Shanghai Low nightclub and restaurant is still there. Orson Welles stumbled past Shanghai Low’s while hiding from the police in the 1947 film ‘The Lady from Shanghai’. (

SnapsCTownuseAlso in Chinatown, Grant Avenue between Sacramento and Clay Streets in the late 1940’s.

SnapsClayuse Looking down Clay Street from Powell in the 1950’s: (Vintage Everyday)

SnapsBayTayloruseChildren at the cable car turnaround at Bay and Taylor Streets in the late 1950’s: (Vintage Everyday)

SnapsLombarduseLombard Street in 1959: (Vintage Everyday)

SnapsHydeuseLooking down Hyde Street between Francisco and Bay Streets in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s: Look at that spooky looking fog devouring Alcatraz in my picture. (









Another one of those Tim tours: History, mystery, a celebration, and love

Last week, I had a chance to take some more family visitors from Texas on another “not your usual” San Francisco city tour.

TourSundial “So what do you guys want to see, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park, the largest sundial in the world?”

“Where’s the largest sundial in the world?”

The mysterious Urbano sundial in the early Twentieth Century in the vintage photo: Legend has it that when you come here on a sunny day in the spring, summer and early fall the sundial is off time by one hour. (

TourBrooksuse“And you brought us to this boring spot, because?”

“Because I wanted to get a then and now, and it’s my tour.”

The old entrance to Brooks Hall on Hyde Street in the early 1950’s:  The San Francisco Main Library now occupies the upper left of the pictures. (SF Chronicle)

TourDineruse“Hey, you said you were taking us to a famous movie location in San Francisco!”

“Well, there was the last time I was here.”

That Doggie Diner on the left at Townsend and 3rd would later become Burger Island where Dirty Harry would say to one of the bad guys in the 1983 film ‘Sudden Impact’ “Go ahead, make my day”. That was the old Southern Pacific Train Station across 3rd Street.

TourDiner2useTourdiner3useThe ‘Sudden Impact’ restaurant was still around as a McDonald’s last time I visited the spot, but it’s been knocked down now and a new building has replaced it. That didn’t “make my day”.

TourFilbertuse“Uncle Tim, this isn’t Lombard Street!”

“Muah, ha,ha!”

18 year Erin had the same problem navigating this scary hill as drivers in the 1940’s did! This stretch of Filbert Street between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets drops off so quickly it looks like you’re going over a cliff at first. If Steve McQueen would have raced over this part of Filbert in the movie ‘Bullitt’ he might have come down about a block away! (Fred Lyon)

TourSHillredouseuseSome of these locations were personal. The little tyke in the red jacket I took a picture of at the top of the waterfall at Golden Gate Park’s Strawberry Hill in the 1980’s is the grown up tyke with me at the bottom of the waterfall.

TourGGBridgeuseWe took in some of the main attractions too. Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge in the summer is a lot easier than walking on the Golden Gate Bridge, and a lot more scenic. Here we were on our Red and White Fleet tour at near the same spot in the Golden Gate as the 1925 pre Golden Gate Bridge picture. (

TourWWoneuseA celebration for soldiers returning home after World War One at Market Street and 5th in early 1919: (San Francisco History Center)

Tour1943facebookuse“Kiss me once, then kiss me twice, then kiss me once again. It’s been a long, long, time.”

In front of the old bank on the corner of Market Street and Grant Avenue in 1943: Whoever they were, I hope World War Two turned out okay for them. (Life Magazine picture from Vintage Everyday)








Don’t Worry, they’re safe (Part two)

As I mentioned in my previous post, cable car accidents are extremely rare nowadays, and the ones in the vintage pictures from SF Gate usually resulted in few serious injuries. Unless you count the injuries to the cable cars!

SafeGwichandMasonuseGreenwich at Mason Streets in 1958: The passengers don’t seem too rattled.

“Lovely view, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but I think we hit something!”

SafeHydeCnut2useLooking down Hyde Street at Chestnut in 1965; cable cars on the left side are heading up the hill, so the car may have slipped back after something broke off of it. You’ll have to take my word for it that Alcatraz is still out there.

SafeHydeChestnut1useHyde Street at Chestnut looking in the opposite direction of the previous pictures in 1964: Don’t ask me what the chain reaction of this accident was, or how it came about. The truck in front may be about to tow the cable car away, or it may have caused the accident.

SafeCalifPowellusePowell Street at California in 1963: Cable car collisions are extremely rare here, if at all, since they put the signal control box on the far right in.

SafeNPointuseNorth Point Street at Hyde in 1958: I would guess that the truck driver was at fault; cable cars always have the right-of-way.

SafePowellnearBushusePowell Street north of Bush in 1960: Cable car brakes used to slip occasionally long ago, something that fortunately hasn’t happened in a long time, so I’m guessing that the cable car was at fault here. Interestingly, we have a bus, a taxi, a personally owned automobile, and a cable car involved in this one. The only thing missing, very fortunately, was a motorcycle.