In an introduction to a World War Two almanac I read years ago, the author, (and I can’t remember who it was) refers to the war as the greatest “collective human endeavor in history”. That’s been true for seventy five years, but the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 might rank alongside, if not surpass, that title. It has effected almost everybody in the world in an effort to combat the virus, the United States government has spent more money as a result of the illness than it did during the entire Second World War, and like that war, people are dying all over the world because of the plague, although the death toll hasn’t approached anywhere near the scope of World War Two yet. The expression ‘globally united” in the fight against the virus is becoming a popular expression. I haven’t been out of the Bay Area since the shelter-in-place order was implemented, so I don’t know about the rest of the world, but the people of San Francisco seem to be working together to overcome the crises, as they have in the past concerning other issues. I’m sure the rest of the world is, as well. These are a collection of pictures that I’ve posted in the past showing San Franciscans working together for a cause that involved other situations, concerns, or disasters from the city’s past, including World War Two.
A peace, love, and end the Vietnam War rally passes Alamo Square along Fulton Street in 1967. Demonstrations like this helped to make that war unpopular and may have contributed to its ending, although there were some disasters along the way, such as Kent State, Ohio.
World War Two wasn’t unpopular in the United States, although, it wasn’t all that welcome, either. Servicemen and women packed San Francisco on their way to, and coming from the battlefronts, as seen in this 1943 photo from LIFE Magazine taken at Mason, Turk, and Market Streets. 71 years later, San Franciscans were united again in celebrating a parade at this spot in honor of the San Francisco Giants third World Series victory. Even rain on the parade didn’t “rain on the parade”.
In 1937, six years before the previous picture was taken, citizens from the Chinese community in San Francisco demonstrated in front of Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf. They were calling on the United States Government to stop importing products to Japan, after Japan’s invasion of China. (Vintage picture from museumca.org)
Two years later in 1939, San Francisco invited countries from around the world to participate in the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island. A few years after the groundbreaking for the fair, the United States would be fighting against some of the countries represented in the vintage photo, such as Nazi Germany and Japan.
Now, we’ll go back 105 years to when San Francisco celebrated the Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915. In August of 2017, I did a comparison picture of the opensfhistory.org photo taken on Market Street in front of the Ferry Building, when people from around the Bay Area gathered there to view the solar eclipse occurring that day. It never got as dark as my picture implies, I just touched it up a little bit for effect.
Fast forward back to World War Two, (Does that make sense?) and a community war bond drive at Ocean Avenue and Junipero Serra Blvd. in the Sunset District. “We’re all in this together!” That was true then and now.
World War Two ended in victory for the Allies and San Francisco celebrated the occasion big-time; although, these nitwits on top of a streetcar on Market Street in front of the Golden Gate Theater, dangerously close to the electrical connection, may have been carry things too far!
In June of 1984, San Francisco united again to celebrate the return of the cable cars after nearly two years of a shut down for repairs. The current shut down of the cable car system is the longest stretch of non operation since then. The top picture is a slide photo I took on Powell Street in front of the St. Francis Hotel.
But San Francisco’s greatest collective human endeavor has to be the rebuilding of the city after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. The vintage picture from the San Francisco History Center was taken looking down Kearny Street toward Broadway.