Pure escapism (For Brad)

That’s what I needed to recover from the results of the first round of the 2021 baseball playoffs, pure escapism therapy. The Shorpy Photo Archive has a stunning collection of high density vintage pictures, many taken in San Francisco, that are a lot of fun to browse through, or if you’re like me, to visit the locations and update some of the photographs. (Thumbnail images)

Market Street at Street ay 6th, looking east in 1963: Many of the buildings from the vintage picture can still be seen today. The building on the right being remodeled is the old David Hughes Building that housed the Western States Life Insurance Company for many years. The building, with a completely different look today, was built in 1908.

The California Street Stairs to Huntington Park on Nob Hill in 1923: The late October shadows were sort of haunting me in this one, but it’s a reasonable facsimile. The Pacific Union Club Building is on the right in both pictures.

“Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothing yet!” And so Al Jolson effectively made silent movies obsolete in the first talkie, ‘The Jazz Singer’ from 1927. Much maligned today for his many black face routines, Al Jolson was still an important part of film history. Jolson is the one with the hat next to the car in the 1927 picture on Powell Street in front of the St. Francis Hotel. Ironically, Jolson died of a heart attack at the St, Francis Hotel in 1950, twenty three years after this picture was taken.

Jones Street, between California and Pine Streets in 1923: This is one of the steepest and scariest streets to drive down in San Francisco; for a brief moment as you head down from California Street, it looks like you’re going over a cliff! The apartment building in the vintage picture is still there behind the trees.

608 Commercial Street, site of the first U.S. Mint in San Francisco: When they decided to put up an office building here, in respect to the historic building they built the skyscraper on top of it. They vintage picture is from 1940.

There’s a large collection of 1906 Earthquake pictures in the Shorpy Archives, as well; this one on Market Street at Kearny looking toward the old Palace Hotel. The Palace Hotel was completely destroyed by the earthquake and fire, and was rebuilt in 1909. The old Chronicle Building survived the earthquake and is on the left in both pictures.

Market and 1st Street in 1947: I wonder how this old photo survived. True, it’s an interesting vintage location shot taken from inside an auto, and as such, it turned out well, but I don’t think it can be considered as a good picture. Now, my goal was to try to take a picture that was equally as bad as the 1947 picture, and I think I pulled it off. Note, FIRST ST. then and 1ST ST now.

A little controversy (Thumbnail images)

No, that’s not yesterday’s SF Chronicle’s sport page; it’s from October 1, 1962. At the end of the 1962 baseball season the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers ended up in a dead tie for first place; so, a three game series was held to determine which team would win the National League Pennant and advance to the World Series. The Giants beat the Dodgers three games to two, and went on to lose the World Series to the New York Yankees. The Giants and Dodgers met again last night in a best of five game championship playoff that everybody  in the Bay Area, including the media, has been saying and reporting  is the first time that the SF Giants and LA Dodgers have faced each other in post season history. I contend that the three games played after regular season in 1962 was the first time these two teams met in post season play, and I said so on social media. Most agreed with me, but some argued that this was not ‘Post Season’ play, but an extension of the regular season. I rebutted that the 1962 Playoffs could not be considered an extension of the regular season games because the season stats would not be fair if only two Major League teams had a 165 game season and all of the rest had 162 games. Also I contended that the only reason that the 1962 Playoffs are not considered as ‘Post Season’ is because that expression had not been invented yet back then. At any rate, the SF Giants and LA Dodgers met again last night at Oracle Park and I was out there. It was crowded and I was out in the bleachers, but it was wonderful fun, depending on who you were rooting for. Like the October 1, 1962 game, the Giants blanked the Dodgers, this time 4 to 0; they won the first game of 1962 out at Candlestick Park 8 to 0. Game two will be tonight at 6:07 PST. (SF Chronicle)

Willie Mays hits a home run off Sandy Koufax in the first inning. (SF Chronicle)

Last night’s game began with a huge flag unfurling during the National Anthem.

Always fun to see McCovey Cove crowded again.

1962 fans at Candlestick Park and 2021 fans at Oracle Park: I think the 1962 fans had a little more creativity. (SF Chronicle)

The last out

Even the witch was happy!


I’ve never used a hashtag for a title before; I kind of like it. These warm early fall nights we’ve been having this week make it especially pleasant to walk around San Francisco after dark. It still feels like summer, but there’s a little spookiness in the gentle wind and fog that reminds me that Halloween isn’t far away. (Thumbnail images)


I got to the Powell and Market Streets cable car turnaround at twlight, seen here in the 1960s, but it didn’t take long for the sun to disappear.

That’s a spooky looking vintage picture of Chinatown at the intersection of Grant Avenue and California Street in the 1950s. I believe the photographer was Fred Lyon. The view is next to old St. Mary’s Church looking down to Sacramento Street.

The intersection of Grant Avenue and California Street is also a good place to catch a cable car heading up Nob Hill, as seen in the vintage picture from the 1950s. (Phil Palmer)

I got off the cable car at the Mark Hopkins Hotel to update another one of Fred Lyon’s wonderful black and white photos, this one from the 1950s.

I doubled back down Nob Hill into Chinatown, seen here at Grant Avenue looking north from Clay Street. They don’t light Chinatown up as much at night as they did in the 1960s picture. (Vintage Everyday)

I ended up my nocturnal knock around back down on Market Street and Kearny, seen in the 1960s in the vintage picture. That’s the Palace Hotel on the right. (Vintage Everyday)

Wishing them luck, part two

This weekend will be the final three games of the San Francisco Giants 2021 season, so I took a bag lunch out to Oracle Park yesterday to take a few pictures, and wish them luck. They’re already in the Playoffs for the first time since 2016, but this weekend, they’ve got a chance to end up with the best record in baseball for the 2021 season, and that doesn’t happen very often. (Thumbnail images)

A three mast ship in China Basin, now called McCovey Cove, in 1922: Behind the ship is now where Oracle Park is. (opensfhistory.org)

Looking east on Berry Street to 3rd Street in 1925: Pope &Talbot Lumber was where Giants Stadium is today. (opensfhistory.org)

Lefty O’Doul Bridge in 1933, then known as Butcher Town Bridge because of all the slaughter houses in the area back then: Those two little white buildings on each side of the bridge are still there. (opensfhistory.org)

McCovey Cove in September of 2012 and September of 2021: Eh, at least the ballpark is aging well. The following October after the 2012 picture was taken the Giants won their second World Series. So, maybe……


Before it was filled in to become the small strip of water originally called China Basin, the area was called Mission Rock Bay, seen here in an 1859 Coastal Survey Map. (Foundsf.org)

A Thomas Brothers map shows the filled-in area in 1937.


An aerial photo from Davis Rumsey Historical Map Collection shows a view looking directly down toward China Basin in 1938. Lefty O’Doul Bridge and the area where Oracle Park is today are in the upper center of the photograph. The now gone Piers 44 and 46 are in the upper right.


A 1987 map plan from founds.org shows how they envisioned the future for the China Basin Area then. Well, they did include a smaller ball park on the left back then.