SOMAOpenuseAs the story goes, and I believe it, when the 1960s skyscraper boom in San Francisco erupted and the pile drivers were heading north and destroying everything in their path, like ‘Kronos’ the Planet Robber did, the people living on Telegraph Hill got together and forced City Hall to approve an ordinance that stopped new buildings from being built north of Market Street that would block Telegraph Hill from its view of the Ferry Building. So, Kronos turned south and the result is today’s SOMA, South of Market Street, once known as “South of the slot” in reference to the cable car line that used to run down Market Street. I took a walk and bus ride around SOMA last Saturday to take some pictures, and I was also granted an audience with Emperor Joshua A. Norton. His Highness was at the new Salesforce Transit Center to rededicate a marker that was originally installed in his honor at the old Transbay Terminal Building in 1939.

SOMADoreuseHidden away south of Market Street is the southern end of lonely Dore Street, looking south from Bryant, just after the 1906 Earthquake. (On Shaky Ground)

SOMA1stuseLooking north along 1st Street from Mission Street in 1962: These pictures were taken from where the Salesforce Tower is today. (

SOMASHarrison1stuseLooking down 1st Street from Harrison Street in 1973: This was a close of a comparison picture as I could get nowadays, trees block the view from further up 1st Street now. That Union 76 gas station in the old picture survived until just recently. The building on the far right in both pictures is the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific Hall. (

SOMASailorsHalluseThe Sailors’ Union of the Pacific Hall in the 1950s: The building was built in 1950. (FoundSF)

SOMASailorslobbyuseThe lobby of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific Hall: This building is a gem compared to some of the buildings they’re slapping up around here today.

SOMAHowardHoward Street near 6th St. in 1980, before the SOMA boom started. (Janet Delaney)

SOMANortonuse Emperor Joshua Norton at the ceremony in the new Salesforce Transit Terminal rededicating a marker that was placed in his honor in 1939 at the old Transbay Terminal, demolished in 2010: Emperor Norton was a whimsical lunatic, (maybe, or maybe he was just pretending) who came to San Francisco in 1859 proclaiming himself to be the Emperor of the United States, and San Francisco honored him as such until he died in 1880. He was one of the most colorful characters from San Francisco’s history. One of his proclamations decreed that two bridges were to be built someday, one from San Francisco to Oakland, and one from San Francisco to Marin County. San Franciscans must have really got a kick out of that, but guess what……

SomaMarkeruseThe Emperor Norton marker placed in the Transit Center on Saturday. Those streaks are from an expensive bottle of champagne used for the Christening.

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