Reclaiming Market Street

As I mentioned in a post early in the spring, the shelter-in-place proclamation that went into effect in the Bay Area on March 17th had turned Market Street into something of an urban nightmare. With workers, shoppers, and visitors gone, a lot of people who have been prowling around Market Street since March 17th are not friendly people. Months before the riots of June, buildings along Market Street were boarded up to prevent the windows being smashed out. The eerie quiet of San Francisco’s main thoroughfare mixed with the yelling from many demented or angry street people is something I’ll never forget. However, since the beginning of June more people have come back to Market Street who are not there to cause trouble or aggressively panhandle, and the street has become a little friendlier since my March 23rd post. Yesterday, Juneteenth Day, I walked along Market Street from 5th Street to the Ferry Building, and for the first time in months, I smiled at some of people that I socially distanced from as a precaution, not because of a threat. These are comparison pictures I took along the way of old postcards of Market Street from the early 1900s.

ReclaimFlooduseLooking east from 5th Street toward the Flood Building: The Emporium sign on the building on the right now has Bloomingdale’s painted on it. The domed Humboldt Building, built in 1908, is in the background of both images.

ReclaimEmporiumuseI’m closer now to the Flood Building and the old Emporium Building on the right. The crowned Call Building, remodeled and now called Central Tower, can be seen behind the Humboldt Building.

ReclaimePhelanuseI’m in front of the Emporium Building now. If it wasn’t for the shade, I’d have been a lot happier with this picture. Many of the old buildings, like the West Bank Building, the Phelan Building and the Gothic looking Mutual Savings Bank Building, are still there.

ReclaimHumboldtuse4th Street and closer to the Humboldt Building seen in a postcard from 1915:

ReclaimGrantuseMarket Street at Grant Avenue: This one has the postmark on it. Four Buildings still seen on the right from the same period as the postcard are the Hearst Building, the Monadnock Building, the Palace Hotel, and the Metropolis Trust and Savings Bank Building. I’m standing near the old pillared Union Trust Building.

ReclaimLottsuseLotta’s Fountain at Kearny and Market Streets; at a little different angle now, but in the same spot where it was originally placed in 1875:

ReclaimPalaceuseThe Palace Hotel, rebuilt in 1909 after the original grand hotel, built in 1875 and visited by the likes of Ulysses S. Grant and Enrico Caruso, who was staying at the hotel when the 1906 earthquake struck, was destroyed during that disaster.

ReclaimSPuseI ended up at the Ferry Building, looking past where the old pedestrian footbridge was toward the Southern Pacific Building. The crowd of demonstrators in my picture were gathering to commemorate Juneteenth Day, the annually recognized day of the end of the slavery of African Americans in the Confederate States. They took over Market Street for awhile too, but they didn’t cause any trouble or hurt anybody.





One thought on “Reclaiming Market Street

  • The Palace Hotel made me laugh. I probably mentioned earlier that there is a postcard around here somewhere that was sent by a relative of my ancestors from a common hotel in San Francisco. He sent it as a quick note to his family near Redding that he had arrived in San Francisco, and was eager to get a good night’s sleep after such a long trip. The postcard was dated on the day prior to the Great Earthquake.

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