Welcome back the F Line

The vintage streetcars of the MUNI F Line that runs from the Castro District to Fisherman’s Wharf began running again this May, and it’s great to hear them rattling past again. (Thumbnail images)


Vintage streetcars are once again rolling past the Ferry Building, a couple of them almost as old as the ones in the 1900 picture.

Number 1079 rumbles past the Ferry Building where buses used to turn around during the 1950s:

Muni driver, Cheri, was kind enough to let me use her friendly smile for an update of a 1942 picture from the Muni History site.

Number 1814 turns onto Market Street from Steuart in a reverse angle shot of a 1942 picture from opensfhistory.org, taken at the same location:


Long ago, there used to be another F Line that ran along Stockton Street, seen here exiting the south end of the Stockton Tunnel during the 1940s in a photo from streetcar.org.


Market Street at Fifth during the early 1970s in a vintage photo from SF Gate:


A ginormous bus on display on Market Street at the cable car turnaround on Powell Street during the early 1970s photo from SF Gate. You can see a cable car on the turnaround in both photos.


Baseball is back in San Francisco, the Giants are in first place, and it’s great to see the cable cars appreciating it. They’ll be running again soon, as well.

Open City

No, I’m not referring to Rossellini’s 1945 film ‘Open City’, which is undoubtedly a masterpiece of a movie, but I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never seen it. This post is about the gradual reopening of San Francisco, all but shut down one year ago by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The few times I’ve been able to get over to the City since the 2021 tax season began, and is still in progress, San Francisco has opened up more and more. Also, it’s no longer a depressing town, as it was so often when I visited in 2020. This isn’t to forget the 534 people from San Francisco who, as of this writing, will never get to see San Francisco come back to life because they lost theirs to COVID-19. I’ll dedicate this post to them. Last Monday, I had a chance to leave the office for awhile for a walk around some of Downtown San Francisco to appreciate the difference in the last week of April, 2021 to the last week of April, 2020. Updating a few vintage pictures from the opensfhistory.org photograph collection seemed a fitting way to enjoy the reopening of a city. (Thumbnail images)

I started out at California and Market Streets, looking toward Spear and Market and the old Southern Pacific Building. I have no idea what that lookout tower on the corner of Market and Spear Streets in the 1924 picture was for, but it must have been an interesting job.

I walked down Drumm Street to Sacramento Street. Before the 1970s, Sacramento Street cut all the way through to the Embarcadero before the Embarcadero Center and the Justin Herman Plaza stopped the street at Drumm. The 1957 photo is looking toward the Embarcadero and the Ferry Building in 1957. Construction on the soon to be opened Embarcadero Freeway was nearing completion.


Hopping on on the Muni #1 bus on Sacramento, I rode up Nob Hill and got off at the Powell Street intersection, seen in 1935 in the vintage photo.


I crossed over California Street along Powell and headed down the south side of Nob Hill to breakfast at Roxanne’s Café on the corner of Bush Street and Powell. It was great to see the café almost pre pandemic full with smiling and hungry people. After breakfast, I did a quick update from Anson Place Alley next to Roxanne’s looking toward Powell. The vintage picture is circa 1948. It would have been nice to catch a cable car passing by, but there not back running just yet.


From Anson Place I headed back to Bush Street and wandered down to the Stockton Tunnel. This is classic Maltese Falcon territory. Sam Spade looked down from where I’m at here to Stockton Street from the roof of the tunnel near the spot where his partner, Miles Archer was shot.

{Spade crossed the sidewalk between iron-railed hatchways that opened above bare ugly stairs, and resting his hands on the damp coping, looked down into Stockton Street. An automobile popped out of the tunnel beneath him with a roaring swish, as if it had been blown out, and ran away.}


Just yards from Stockton Tunnel is Burritt Street Alley, where Miles Archer was shot, and this plaque near the entrance to the alley


Two blocks south of the Stockton Tunnel will bring you to the friendly sight of Union Square, seen in the vintage picture in 1958. It was unsettling and almost haunting last May to walk through the empty Square and not hear the clanging of cable car bells, the tour bus barkers beckoning, cars honking, people talking, and music.


The little stretch between Kearny and Stockton Streets known as Maiden Lane will probably never be as popular as it once was with all of the quaint shops like Robinson’s House of Pets or the Union Square Lounge gone now, but it’s still a pretty alley, and fun to walk through during the Holidays. The vintage picture looking east is from 1953.


Stockton and Market Streets in 1938 and a rare picture of the Call Building’s dome being removed, and the building being remodeled into what is now the Central Tower: I headed back to the office on BART from here feeling all the better for the day from my visit.