“From the Ferry to Van Ness”

That’s a line from Lawrence W. Harris’s poem written just after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco.

{From the Ferry to Van Ness, you’re a God-forsaken mess. But the damnedest, finest ruins, nothing more and nothing less.}

These are a collection of comparison pictures I took this week from the Embarcadero to Van Ness Avenue. Downtown San Francisco isn’t a “God-forsaken mess”, but it’s not what it used to be right now; there isn’t a lot to do. This inspired me to do an awful take on Mr. Harris’s poem.

{From the Ferry to Van Ness, there is less to do, and less. But the damnedest, finest less, so that’s why I go, I guess.}

ParkerusePier3useActress Eleanor Parker christens the new California Zephyr train at Pier 3 near the Ferry Building in 1949: She played the wife of Kirk Douglas with an abortion secret two years later in the 1951 film ‘Detective Story’. (Top photo from Cross Country Chronicles, middle photo from filmsofthefifties.com)

#rdandMarketuseMarket Street, looking west from 3rd, looks like the early 1960s: (SFMTA)

CTownSacramentouse Grant Avenue looking toward Sacramento Street in 1961: (Pinterest / hemming.com)

CTownGrantCalifuseGrant Avenue looking toward California Street in Chinatown in 1957: (fineartamerica.com)

CrestuseCalifornia Street looking down from Powell Street on the top of Nob Hill in 1961: The Rolls Garage was originally the old Crest Garage, demolished in 2018. (Street Scenes of San Francisco in the 1960s)

EmporiumuseMarket Street in front of the old Emporium Department Store, now Westfield Center, in the 1970s: Westfield Center reopened for customers late in June, but shut down again earlier this week due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. (flickr.com)

TurnarounduseCablecaruseThe cable car turnaround at Powell and Market Streets in the 1970s: The vintage photo from opensfhistory.org should be labeled ‘The Rolling Stones meet Crocodile Dundee’. Earlier this month while I was “out in the field” I was able to enjoy seeing a cable car rattle down Powell Street toward the turnaround for a maintenance run. People on Powell Street cheered as the cable car went past.

FlooduseWork is finishing up repairing “the damndest, finest ruins” during May of 1909 in a SFMTA Archive photo from the Facebook page Lost San Francisco. The photo was taken at Market and 5th Streets looking toward the Flood Building.

CHalluseCity Hall in the 1920s: I’m suddenly hungry for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The vintage picture was taken farther back from where I’m standing, but that area has been closed off for temporary homeless shelters due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. (worthpoint.com)

CHallFranklinuseFulton Street looking past Franklin toward Van Ness Avenue and the City Hall in the 1940s: The arched building on the left, just visible past the tree in my photo, is the Veterans Building where the United Nations was created 75 years ago last month. (flickr.com)



It’s July

“It’s July, and I have hope in who I am becoming”

Well, if that was Charlotte Erickson’s allegory for halfway through the year / halfway through life, I hope she became who she wanted to be. Me, I passed that turnpike awhile back, and right now I just have hopes of things becoming the way they used to be.

TaxDay2020redoJessicaAlthough I enjoyed the stretch, a Tax Day in July seems unpatriotic, (my take on a freepik.com cartoon) and pretty girls looking a combination of Uncle Sam and Jesse James made for an unusual 4th of July. Anyway, tax season ended this week and I did what I usually do after the deadline to file tax returns, I went over to San Francisco to take pictures.

JulyBBridgeuseI approached the San Francisco City & County Limit the way I often do, on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge. The vintage picture was taken on the opening day of the bridge, November 12th 1936. Treasure Island was still under construction then. This whole portion of the bridge was replaced in 2013.

JulyMarinaGreenuseStopped for lunch on the Marina Green, seen in the 1950s in a cool looking vintage picture from the San Francisco Remembered Facebook page: (Lily Castello)

JulyMarinaHarboruseLooking across the Marina Yacht Harbor toward the Palace of Fine Arts during the 1950s; yachts have gotten bigger since then. See if you can spot which one is mine. “Knock it off, Tim!” (Vintage Everyday)

JulyPier43useLooking through the arch of Pier 43 toward Pier 45 where the Liberty Ship the Jeremiah O’Brien was docked before the disastrous fire at the pier last May forced the ship to relocate. I’m really unhappy about that. You can see the fire damage to the pier.

JulyohioanuseSpeaking of ships, this has to be one of the spookiest San Francisco pictures I’ve seen. That’s the SS Ohioan, shipwrecked and stranded on the rocks behind the old Sutro Bathhouse in 1936. In December of the following year, what was left of the ship broke in two and sank into the Pacific Ocean. (ebay.com)

JulyOhioan2A vintage picture from worthpoint.com shows the stranded ship being pounded into the rocks by the surf. Salvage efforts continued on the ship for over a year before she sank.

JulyGhirardelliuseLooking toward Ghirardelli Square during the 1960s: The Ghirardelli letters on the roof were taken down recently for restoration. Just as I was getting ready to snap the picture, a MUNI bus pulled up and the driver got out. Oh, well, we have to rise above. (ebay.com)


San Franciscana (Part Two)

The beginning of an exciting summer; and why not? True, there’ll be no 4th of July gatherings, no county fairs, still no Disneyland, and I won’t be hanging out at the beach checking out the girls; which won’t be a problem because they never paid much attention to me anyway. Still, the weather will be warmer, and San Francisco is as exciting of a place to visit during the summer right now as anywhere else. These are a collection of pictures I took in San Francisco during the first week of summer.

CanaHarrisonuse Harrison Street, looking east from Fremont Street in 1956: You can’t see the last tower on the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge from here anymore. The FedEx and utility truck block the view down toward the Embarcadero where Pier 24, demolished in the 1990s, once was. That’s the old Hill’s Brothers Coffee Building down the street at the bottom left. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

CanaColumbususeThe Columbus Statue at Coit Tower during the 1960s: The statue was taken down and put in storage earlier in June. (ebay.com)

CanaMasonuseMason Street, between California and Pine Streets: If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to drive while wearing 3D glasses, the vintage photo from the 1950s will give you an idea. (ebay.com)

CanaCTownuseGrant Avenue at Washington Street in 1973: They’re slowly starting to trickle back into Chinatown as well, and a few of the gift shops are starting to reopen too. (worthpoint.com)

CanaTPhoneuseThis building used to be the Telephone Exchange Building where a lot of the to and from long distance calls in San Francisco were directed by operators receiving them. It was considered so important that after Pearl Harbor it was sandbagged to minimize damage in the event of the Japanese bombing San Francisco.  Those would be great against vandals today, but they have some other kind of metal temporary doors and windows guarding the building now.

CanaLombarduseTourists are starting to come back to Lombard Street slowly, as well. They’re getting close to the level of the vintage picture taken in 1975. After I took my picture, I walked past four girls grouping together for a selfie. I gave them a thumbs up and said, “A masterpiece!” and they giggled. It made me feel good, like the old days in San Francisco. You Know, like four months ago. (The Houston Chronicle)

CanaFBuildinguseThe bunting on the Ferry Building in the opensfhistory.org picture fits right in with the 4th of July coming up this weekend, but it was actually taken February 18th 1939 celebrating the opening day of the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island.

CanaKearnyuseGeary Blvd. at Kearny Street near Market during the 1950’s: The entrance to the old Chronicle Building is on the right in both photos. I can take a straighter picture than the vintage picture, but not nearly as interesting of a one. Hmm, ‘COLONICS-X-RAY’, I wonder if chiropractic doctors still offer that service anymore. (worthpoint.com)

CanaSentinaluseI’ve wanted to do this one for awhile; Kearny Street at Columbus Avenue, (at least for now) in 1910. That’s the Sentinel Building, owned by Francis Ford Coppola, on the left in both pictures. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

CanaTHilluseRussian Hill from Telegraph Hill in the 1800s: They’ve put up a few more shacks around here since then. You can just see the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge through the fog in my picture.