‘(Market Street) Abides’

I got the idea for that title after reading yesterday’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle by the journalist Carl Nolte about George R Stewarts’s 1949 novel ‘Earth Abides’; a story about a worldwide virus that kills off most of the earth’s population leaving few survivors. I last read the book when I was about 18 and I don’t remember much about it accept that it was very depressing. Yesterday, I took BART into San Francisco for the first time after the Bay Area shelter in place order was issued to get some pictures along Market Street and that was depressing, as well. The afternoon before, I drove through a quiet San Francisco that, although empty, was still very beautiful. The following day, Market Street was a different experience. With most of the workers, shoppers and tourist gone now, Market Street is basically left to the street people, most of them far beyond any help. Maybe they’re always there, but just not as prominent among the usual crowd of people. With Market Street so quiet, you can hear them yelling and swearing for blocks. Many of them were a lot more aggressive than usual on Sunday, and I was fed up with them after about four blocks. These are a collection of vintage photos of a bustling Market Street that I’ve posted in the past, and updated with pictures of the relatively vacant and uncomfortable Market Street I walked along on Sunday.

MarketLottauseLooking down Geary Blvd past Lotta’s Fountain during the 1930s: Lotta’s Fountain was not only taller then, but it was in a slightly different spot at the intersections of Geary Blvd, Kearny and Market Streets. The fountain was moved back to its original location in 1999.

MarketMontgomeryuseLooking west on Market Street at Montgomery Street after the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906: You can see the old and new Palace Hotels and the Call Building on the left in both pictures. (San Francisco History Center)

Market4thuseA parade on Market Street at 4th St in the 1920s: The crowned Call Building, today’s Central Tower, is in the background of both pictures. The thin Humboldt Building is on the right in both pictures.

MarketGrantuseMarket Street at Grant Avenue in the 1940s: An American Werewolf in San Francisco!

MarketVJuseVJ Day, celebrating the end of World War Two, at Grant Avenue and Market Street in August of 1945: (Vintage picture from the San Francisco History Center)

MarketEmporiumuseMarket Street, across from the old Emporium Department store, during the 1930s: I saw several incidents of police having to deal with the street people during yesterday’s walk.

MarketPowellusePowell Street Looking across Market Street toward the Emporium in 1971: The Flood Building is on the left in both pictures.

MarketTurnarounduseThe cable car turnaround looking north on Powell Street in the 1950s: (Vintage Everyday)

MarketFlooduseA protest March on Market Street at 5th looking toward the old Flood Building in 1966: (The Shorpy Archive)








3 thoughts on “‘(Market Street) Abides’

  • How sad you can’t take a walk along Market St.! I worked in the city for years and thought it was bad in late 1990’s but so much worse now. Speaking of working there- isn’t that the Wells Fargo at the foot of Montgomery St. not Chinatown? I got off at the Montgomery St. BART exit regularly and trudged up Montgomery to reach my office and passed that building daily!

  • How saddening that there are those who have no place to isolate. It is saddening at any time, but is even riskier now. A virus could get around that Community very efficiently; and that Community is not very far removed from the rest of us.

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