In order to achieve a perfect line up redoing a vintage photo I would have to be standing in the same spot the original photographer was standing when I take my comparison picture, which might be almost impossible to determine. Anyway, I gave it a good try over the Memorial Day Weekend, and came pretty close at times.
This one looked perfect, at first; the gap between the Dewey Monument and The St. Francis Hotel on the left matches up, as does the gap between the monument and the Chancellor Hotel to its right in the picture. The St. Francis Hotel in my photo lines up nicely with the vintage picture, and the angle of the two crosswalks in the photos line up close, although they’re probably not painted today exactly where they were in 1953. However, on a closer look, the Dewey Monument is a little higher up in the vintage picture. Maybe a few steps farther forward might have done it. The 1953 picture from the Charles Cushman Collection was taken at the southeast corner of Geary Blvd. and Stockton Street looking toward Union Square.
Heading up to Nob Hill, I thought my quest was going to be short and sweet. When I put them together, this 1961 photo looking toward the Pacific Union Club on California looked perfect, until I got to the roof; the remaining cornice on the roof balustrade is out of line with the building in the background in the my picture. (San Francisco Pictures Blog / blogspot.com)
Walking down Powell approaching Pine Street, I got another one pretty close. The cable car tracks aren’t laid out exactly where they were in the 1970s picture posted on Pinterest, so my picture wouldn’t line up very well standing directly between the tracks, as in the vintage picture. Also, I needed to be closer so it doesn’t count.
This 1967 picture is looking back up Nob Hill from Pine and California Streets toward the Fairmont Hotel. I’m close here too. However, if those are the same manhole covers in both pictures, I’m a little off. That’s what people usually say about me anyway. (San Francisco Pictures Blog / blogspot.com)
I’m back downtown and looking west on Ellis Street from Stockton. Notice the John’s Grill Restaurant in the two photos. Both pictures were taken on the corner of 4th and Markets Streets. The Crocker Anglo Building, remodeled, is still there but the building between it and John’s Grill has been replaced. The angle and width of the Crocker Anglo Building are good and it lines up with the windows on the Flood Building on the background, but the two buildings and John’s Grill in my picture aren’t directly beneath the three buildings in vintage picture. Conclusion, I’m not standing quite in the same spot as the photographer in vintage photo. Duh! (Opensfhistory.org and outsidelands.org)
Wandering down Market Street to Grant Avenue in the mid 1950: I liked my chances with this one, but it didn’t work out. I tried to get the old Hearst Examiner Building on the right to line up close with the even older Call Building across 3rd Street, but it looks like I was too far back. You can’t see the Palace Hotel in the background from here today through the trees, so I’m safe there. However, back across Market Street where the old Wells Fargo Building on Grant Avenue is, well, like Eli Wallach said to “The Man” in the 1958 film ‘The Lineup’ “that’s where the job went to pieces.” I’m too close! Yet when I moved farther back to get a good angle on the old bank building, the previous mentioned buildings across Market Street were way out of sync. Oh, well.
I’ll end my journey here because I don’t think I’ll ever get a perfect line up, but this one matches up about the closest. The old blurry picture was taken on the southwest corner of Powell and Sutter Streets in 1949. The Sears Food Restaurant has moved one block behind me between Sutter and Post Streets. (San Francisco Pictures Blog / blogspot.com)