I never paid much attention to the crime drama television show ‘Ironside’ that premiered in 1967 until I started watching them again on DVD. As I mentioned from a few posts I’ve done in the past, they’re actually for the most part entertaining little mystery shows with occasional views of interesting San Francisco locations, although most of each of the episodes were filmed in a studio. Raymond Burr plays Robert T. Ironside, a police lieutenant crippled by a sniper’s bullet in the pilot episode. He’s assisted by Barbara Anderson as Officer Eve Whitfield. Eve often gets double takes as a female police officer, which apparently was novel back then. Eve was a good cop and she could be tough when she had to, even though she often dressed like a tour guide from Disneyland. Don Mitchell plays Mark Sanger, an ex-con that Ironside sees promise in and employs him. Mark is basically Ironside’s man servant in early seasons pushing Ironside around in his wheelchair or driving him around in his armored truck. This may be racially offensive to some today, but Mark eventually joins the force as a police officer in later seasons. Don Galloway is Sergeant Ed Brown, the handsome detective who you sometimes hope was fooling around with Eve behind Ironside’s back. He even misquotes Herb Caen in one episode referring to San Francisco as “Baghdad on the Bay” rather than ‘Baghdad by the Bay’. Most of the San Francisco locations were filmed as Ironside’s truck is heading toward a crime site or an investigation. (IMDb)
Ironside’s truck is often seen entering onto or exiting from the Washington Street side of the old Hall of Justice Building on Kearny Street across from Portsmouth Square.
Although the old Hall of Justice Building was closed and demolition had begun on it when the show premiered, it was used as Ironside’s base of operations. Washington Street is on the left side of the building, Kearny at the bottom, and Merchant Street on the right. A Hilton Hotel occupies the spot today.
In an episode from 1968 two criminals break out from one of the jails cells in the Hall of Justice and have taken Ironside and Eve hostage. This is a picture from the actual jail cell block in the Hall of Justice from a link about the Hall of Justice Building sent to me in a comment from a viewer to my blog, Irunnningynn. I’ll include the link to the interesting article she sent me at the end of this post.
The bad guys who have taken Ironside and Eve hostage allow Ironside to take a telephone call from Mark to avoid suspicion. Realizing that Mark is returning to the office, Ironside sends Mark on a lengthy research project at the San Francisco Main Library on Larkin Street to protect him, much to Mark’s confusion.
These are two views from the scene of the old location of the San Francisco Main Library back then. The building is now the Asian Art Museum.
In a camera scene starting at the top and working its way down, the old Hobart Building on Market Street, with the new back then Wells Fargo Building behind it, is shown in one of the episodes from the first season.
The Hobart Building operators let Wells Fargo paint their stagecoach on the side of the building back then.
An episode that aired December 7th 1967 shows the view down Vallejo Street on Telegraph Hill. I was up on Telegraph Hill at this spot last June and got a reasonable comparison to the TV shot when I was working on another post, although a tree blocks a lot of the old view now. That looks like a Coca Cola sign on the doorway of the building on the corner of Vallejo and Montgomery Streets in the TV shot. There may have been a grocery store there back then.
A view from an early episode looking down Nob Hill along California Street in 1967: There’s no Bank of America Building yet, and you can see the Fairmont Hotel’s Tonga Room on the left and the old Crest Garage building on the corner of Powell and California Streets on the right. The Crest Garage building was still around when I took this picture in 2017.
In an episode that aired November 30th 1967, Ironside’s team is trying to break up a stolen car ring operating out of San Francisco. Here, he reviews a map of San Francisco with Eve and refers to the red dots on the map as to where cars were stolen in San Francisco in the past six months. That may be less than the amount of cars stolen in San Francisco in one week nowadays.
Whenever there’s a crime scene or a crime in commission, Mark always seems to drive Ironside north on Hyde Street coming down from Russian Hill to get there. In this scene they’re heading to an auto wrecking yard to break up a stolen car ring. They’re two blocks away from the Bay, and I doubt if there was an auto wrecking yard within fifty miles from here!
Another often used San Francisco location in the show was the old Spreckels Mansion on Washington Street. Whenever the crime involved a well-to-do family, they always seem to live here. Ironside’s truck is turning into the courtyard entrance from Washington Street, seen in the early morning shadows from Lafayette Park across the street in my picture.
The last I heard, the current resident of the Spreckels Mansion is authoress Danielle Steel.
Below is a link to the story about the old Hall of Justice Building sent to me from Irunnningynn.