The perfect San Francisco day, split over three days

I don’t always stay in San Francisco from morning until night, but I did get a full day in with this set, morning, afternoon, and evening. I just didn’t do it all on the same day.

PerfectksignaluseSaturday morning, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM: Already hot by nine o’clock.

The cable car signal box on the southeast corner of California and Powell Streets in 1967: At first I thought, “They’ll take a picture of anything in San Francisco.” but then I thought, “Well, I’m taking a picture of it too!” (SFMTA)

PerfectccaruseStill plenty of sunshine at 11ish AM to get a nice comparison with this 1950s photo before the shadows creep into the intersection of California and Powell Streets. (Vintage Everyday)

Perfectsutteruse Long gone streetcar tracks being laid down on Sutter Street near Taylor in 1931: (SFMTA)

Perfect5thMarketuseAfter breakfast at Tad’s Steak House on Powell, I caught the end of the morning around noon for this 1949 update at Market Street near 5th. (SFMTA)

PerfectFremontSTuseSunday afternoon, 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM: Still warm to hot, but cooled down a little.

This afternoon I started out by heading down Fremont Street toward the new Transbay Transit Terminal: The top photo shows the old Transbay Terminal from here in 1963 in the background. (

PerfectTransituseConstruction work nearing completion on the old Transbay Terminal in 1938: As I mentioned last August, I think the new one is a beautiful transportation terminal, and it’s great to hear the noise buses make indoors when they pass by. It reminds me so much of the old terminal building. ( PerfectCTownuseGrant Avenue and California Street in 1961: I got a decent lineup, but I needed a long-focus lens to make this one worthwhile.(SFMTA)

PerfectCalifStuseLooking down California Street from Stockton Street in the 1950s: (Vintage Everyday)

PerfectCathayuseLooking back up California Street toward where the previous pictures were taken in the 1950s: There’s something about this vintage photo that makes it my favorite in the set. (Vintage Everyday)

PerfectStocktonuseMonday evening, 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM: It cooled off into a pleasant summer evening.

Looking down Stockton Street near Maiden Lane toward Geary Blvd. and the old I Magnin & Company Department store in the 1950s: The building on the left with the diamonds on it in my picture is the Neiman Marcus Department Store that replaced the beloved City of Paris, seen in the old photo. (

PerfectGranr&BushuseApproaching Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Bush Street in the 1950s: The lights are starting to come on in the City in both pictures. (Vintage Everyday)

PerfectCTownnightuseGrant Avenue between California and Sacramento Streets as evening approaches in the 1950s:

PerfectMarketStuseThe end of a perfect day(s). Market Street at Powell in the 1950s; San Francisco’s “Great White Way”: Look at all the movie palaces that were gone by the 1980’s; the Telenews, the Esquire, the Paramount, the Fox Warfield. Over on the left near where the Powell street sign is in my picture was where the elegant Grayson’s was. The Nordstrom Department Store is here now. On the right was where the flagship Woolworth’s San Francisco store was located in the old Flood Building from the 1950’s to the 1980’s.












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 1940s to the 1960s. 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 1950s: 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 1940s.

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

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

SnapsLombarduseLombard Street in 1959: (Vintage Everyday)

SnapsHydeuseLooking down Hyde Street between Francisco and Bay Streets in the late 1950s or early 1960s: 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 1950s:  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”.

Normaldoggieuse Here’s a picture I posted in February of 2016 showing the McDonald’s.

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 1940s 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.