1st, 2nd, and 3rd (For Maria)

“Who’s on 1st, What’s on 2nd, I Don’t Know’s on 3rd .”  I took a walk around the downtown portions of First, Second and Third Streets, south of Market Street last Friday in the rain, and yesterday. I’m never sure if the numbered streets and avenues in San Francisco are correctly written alphabetized or numeric; I think it’s okay either way. There’s a lot more than the portion of these streets that I covered in my jaunts, but there’s a Denny’s Restaurant on Mission Street between 4th (or Fourth) and 5th (or Fifth) that serves a good breakfast, and I didn’t want too wander too far away from it. Besides even though they’ve done a good job in clearing up the poverty and shabbiness these areas were once known for, there’s still some spots around here that look like a Dorothea Lange photo from the 1930s. (Thumbnail images)

1st and Market Street in 1955: First Street, (Well, I’m not sure, so I’ll just print them both ways during this post) was one of the first streets we walked along from the old Transbay Terminal on Mission Street to get to Market Street when we first started riding the bus over to the City when we were in high school. I remember we once asked a police officer standing on the southeast corner of 1st and Mission how to get to Chinatown. He said to us, jokingly, “Why do you want to go there? Do you want to get shanghaied?”  We weren’t sure what the word meant back then, but we were tough kids and we weren’t going to get shanghaied unless we wanted to. When we found out what it meant, it did kind of sound like fun. (Vintage picture, San Francisco Pictures Blog)

1st and Mission Streets, looking north along 1st in 1970: The southeast corner where the policeman warned us against “danger” is on the right in both pictures. I remember the Foster’s Restaurant in the vintage picture, and the old and new Transbay Terminals were out of the picture on the right. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

2nd  and Market Streets, looking toward the Ferry Building in 1949: When you walk south down Second Street, parts of it haven’t changed much since before World War Two. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

2nd Street, looking past Stevenson Street toward the Hobart Building in 1917: The Hobart Building, built in 1914, is one of my favorite buildings on Market Street. I didn’t always feel that way. When we were teenagers we snuck up into the tall steel framed Wells Fargo Building north of the Hobart Building. I remember looking down at the Hobart Building and thinking that they needed to replace that old eyesore with a modern building like the one we were in. Boy was I cemented in the present during high school! When I walk by here now, I admire with respect the old Hobart Building, and I don’t pay any attention to what was once the Well Fargo Headquarters Building. (opensfhistory.org)

3rd Street, looking south from Market Street in 1914: In a murder mystery he wrote in 1948 titled ‘Many a Monster’, Robert Finnegan describes Third Street this way;

{Third Street, commonly called Skid Row or Skid Road was the street of down-and-outers, lined by pawn shops, junk stores, cheap saloons and gaunt-looking hotels. Here and there a ragged drunk slept in a doorway with an empty bottle clutched to his breast. Prostitutes, fat and dowdy, thin and tuberculous (sic) wandered in and out of barrooms on crooked heels.}

Projects like the Yerba Buena Center and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art pretty much put an end to that era. (SFMTA / San Francisco Pictures Blog)

Looking north on 3rd St, between Folsom and Harrison Streets in 1915: In the far background is the crown of the old Call Building, to the right of it is the gothic looking Mutual Savings Bank Building; both survivors of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. The Call Building, now known as Central Tower, can barely be seen from here now. The old Mercantile Building on Third and Mission Streets, another survivor of the 1906 disaster, is to the left of the Mutual Savings Building, behind the OWL Cigars sign in the vintage picture . (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

Another 1930s remastered clip

The link to the film clip that I did these updates on is below my pictures. This one was posted on the Market Street Railway Facebook page by one of the group’s members. These colorized films, enhanced with sound effects and presented on You Tube by NASS, are sometimes maligned by some viewers, but I enjoy them. This one starts out in Chinatown, moves to Market Street, jumps to the Embarcadero north of the Ferry Building, goes back to Chinatown, and ends up back on the Embarcadero, south of the Ferry Building. (Thumbnail images)

The film clip opens up on Grant Avenue near California Street in Chinatown. The car the cameraperson is riding in is chasing a man south on Grant Avenue.


The running man and the auto chasing him turn west on California Street, and head up Nob Hill.  I don’t know if that was a “rub out” or not; the car in the film does appear to run the guy over! Maybe somebody back then just had a sense of humor. (This one didn’t come through as a thumbnail image)

The film moves to Market Street, near 1st, and follows streetcars toward the Ferry Building.

The next scene is on the Embarcadero at Pier 3, north of the Ferry Building.

The camera moves north along the Embarcadero to Pier 7. Pier 7 is gone now, so Pier 5 was as close as I could get to a comparison image.

The next scene is back in Chinatown, moving south along Grant Avenue from Pacific Avenue past Washington Street. The film is a little choppier here and the images aren’t as clear.

The film ends up back on the embarcadero between Mission and Howard Streets, south of the Ferry Building. The scene is looking south toward Howard Street past the old YMCA Building, which is still there. On the right background of the film image is a Sherwin-Williams advertising sign of a paint can covering the world on top of the building on the corner of Howard Street. Notice on the left that the Bay Bridge hadn’t been completed yet when the film was made. The Embarcadero was reconfigured in the 1990s, and curves at a different angle here than it did in the 1930s.

Below, is the link to the You Tube film clip.

‘Good Neighbor Sam’; “The movie that dares to use the Lansing Street, Guy Place curve around for a setting!”

That probably wouldn’t have been a very good promo for a film, but it is an interesting and off beat  location as part of a wild car ride scene, the highlight of the 1964 movie, ‘Good Neighbor Sam’. It’s only two and half stars on the must watch list, but the wild car ride in a Ford Thunderbird is as inconsistent and almost as fun to watch as the chase scene in ‘Bullitt’. Jack Lemmon takes a private eye who’s been spying on him for a crazy ride around San Francisco that takes in the cable car turnaround at Bay and Taylor Streets, the old Belt Line Railroad on the Embarcadero, the SOMA Area, Lombard Street and the Lansing Street, Guy Place curve on the western side of Rincon Hill, among other places. (Thumbnail images)

Sam and Minerva Bissell, played by Jack Lemmon and Dorothy Provine, get mixed up in shenanigans involving their next door neighbor, Janet Lagerlof, (Romy Schneider). It’s a little too complicated to explain, but Sam has to pretend that he’s Janet’s husband rather than Minerva’s so Janet can collect a fifteen million dollar inheritance from a deceased uncle. Things get even more complicated when Janet’s estranged husband, Howard Ebbets, played by Mike Connors, shows up. In the above pictures, Sam drops Howard off to work in Howards Thunderbird at Mason and Sacramento Streets.

Earlier in the movie, Sam, Minerva, and Janet go out for a night on the town to celebrate Sam’s promotion at work due to an advertising tip he gives to a prospective client, Simon Nurdlinger, played by Edward G. Robinson. They end up in the Fairmont Hotel Lobby, with Sam completely hammered by this time.

Sam ends up rolling down the Fairmont’s marble stairway, knocking over several people. They don’t have the red carpet on the stairs anymore.

Now we come to the main reason to watch the movie. Sam is confronted by a private eye who mistakenly claims to have positive proof the Sam is, in fact, Janet’s husband, Howard Ebbets! This plays out perfectly for Sam because Janet has agreed to give Sam and Minerva one million dollars of her fifteen million dollar inheritance for helping her. Sam agrees to give the detective a ride home. However, the advertising company Sam works for has also mistaken Janet for Sam’s wife, and has placed billboards up all over town with pictures of Janet and Sam, identifying them as Mr. and Mrs. Sam Bissell. Don’t ask, it’s too complicated to explain. Here, Sam and the private investigator exit the St. Mary’s Parking Garage, across California Street from old St. Mary’s Church, and head up Nob Hill.

Sam spots one of the billboards on the corner of California and Powell Streets.

Sam takes a sharp left on Powell to prevent to investigator from seeing the billboard. Several years ago, I did a comparison of this scene when the old Crest Garage was still there. The garage was demolished in 2018; here’s the view today.

Sam heads down Powell Street. In the far back is the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, blocked from the view here today by the San Francisco Marriott Hotel. I think you can see some of the construction on the Marriott Hotel to the left of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in the film shot. Also the flag on the Francis Drake Hotel is at half mast. The movie was released in July of 1964, but possibly the car ride scene was filmed when flags across the country were flying at half mast due to the November 22, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The billboards have been placed up all over San Francisco, and Sam constantly has to make fast turns and maneuvers to prevent the investigator from seeing one. Here, Sam guns the T-Bird past a cable car turning around at Bay and Taylor Streets. This spot has changed drastically since 1964, although the 76 Gas Station on the right is still there today. You can also see the Cost Plus World Market sign on the right in the movie scene. The Cost Plus here closed in 2020.

Lansing Street and Gulf Place curve around the western side cliff of Rincon Hill, cut off due to excavation of this part of the hill that would eventually be the Fremont Street freeway off ramp from the Bay Bridge. The Clock Tower Building at Bryant and 2nd Streets can be seen on the right in both images. I’m a little further up Gulf Place in my picture because I wanted to get some of the beige house on the left in the film shot and still on the curve, although partially blocked by a newer building today.

Sam races down Gulf Place toward 1st Street, causing another car coming up the hill to crash into a pile of boxes. You could still see the Bay Bridge from here in 1964.

A rain delay (from work)

I don’t usually sneak out of the office on a rainy day, but there’s something beautiful about San Francisco in the rain sometimes, especially if it’s a warm rain that’s not uncomfortable. (Thumbnail images)

Jefferson and Taylor Streets at Fisherman’s Wharf, seen in the 1960s in the vintage photo:

One of my favorite pictures of the Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon, taken by Charles Cushman in 1940: The lagoon was full of boats yesterday because the crab season has been delayed again.

I was coming back from the Wharf on a cable car, and when we got to Columbus Avenue near Lombard Street I remembered a picture by Peter Stratmoen from 1975 that I did a then and now on once. My picture is a little blurrier than I’d like it to be because I was leaning out as far as I could on the cable car trying to get a good shot, and I didn’t want to fall off. The spires of Saints Peter and Paul Church are on the left, and the vintage KFC has been replaced by an apartment building.

So, I got back down to Union Square at Powell Street and Geary Blvd. on the cable car when things started getting weird. Have you ever have had one of those days when all of a sudden you’re in a Film Noir movie sitting next to Humphrey Bogart on a cable car?

Another ride along the ‘Hyde Street Grip’

I took another ride on the cable car line they used to call the ‘Hyde Street Grip’ on Friday; it’s always one of the best attractions in town.

North Beach to Tenderloin, over Russian Hill,
the grades are something giddy, and the curves are fit to kill!
All the way to Market Street, climbing up the slope,
down upon the other side, hanging to the rope;
But the sight of San Francisco, as you take the lurching dip!
There is plenty of excitement, on the Hyde Street Grip!

I wanted to get a seat up front for picture taking so I jumped on the cable car before it stopped. “Nope! Nope! Nope!” the conductor said to me in a friendly manner. “No boarding the car while it’s moving.” My first impulse was to say to him, “Hey, I’ve been riding these contraptions since before you were born, buddy. Don’t tell me how to ride a cable car!” But times have changed and he was right. I just smiled and said “Sorry!” and we got along fine.

Heading up past Union Square: It’s hard to get a perfect line up updating vintage photos when you’re rocketing along at a lightening nine miles an hour, but they turned out okay. The vintage photo is from 1963. (opensfhistory.org)

They’re all set up for the Holiday Season again in Union Square. The Dewey Monument, seen in 1957 in the vintage photo, is behind the Christmas tree in the current picture. (opensfhistory.org)

On top of Nob Hill we rolled past California Street, the only place where two separate cable car lines cross each other perpendicularly. (Walmartimages)

We leveled out for a bit at Powell and Clay Streets, and I was riding on the opposite side of a cable car like the one seen in the 1965 picture. (opensfhistory.org)

Rattling along past Lombard Street; the tourists are back here again in the hundreds at any given time. The vintage picture is from 1960. (opensfhistory.org)

And you end up taking the “lurching dip” from Chestnut to Bay Streets with spectacular views of the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the Bay.

Addendum:  Always point out when you’ve been corrected. I’ve referred to this cable car line in the past as the ‘Hyde Street Grip’, but the cable car line that Gelett Burgess wrote about in his poem, ‘The Ballad of the Hyde Street Grip’, was actually the now defunct O’Farrell and Jones Line. Check out the story below from the Market Street Railway.

“My City, My Game”

Waaaay back in the 1990s.

Hah, I still have favorite clothes I wear that I bought in the 1990s! Usually, I don’t update posts about anything more contemporary than the 1980s, but to my alarming awareness, the 1990s may be vintage years now, as well. (Thumbnail images)

Taken from the northeast corner of Gough and Hayes Streets, looking west along Hayes, on a gloomy Halloween Eve: This portion of the Central Freeway in the background was closed by this time due to the Loma Prieta Earthquake of October of 1989. It was demolished in 1992. The long standing argument on how to pronounce Gough Street, like cough or though, even had Herb Caen write about it in one of his columns. (Bold Italic)

On the opposite southeast corner of Gough and Hayes, demolition had already begun on the Central Freeway when the top picture was taken. (Bold Italic)

Page Street and Octavia Blvd., looking north toward the Central Freeway: In keeping with the spirit of a Halloween Eve, this portion of the old freeway here, although convenient, sure was a monstrosity. (Pinterest)

Market Street, looking east past Octavia: The demolition of the northern part of the Central Freeway caused a traffic mess on Market Street, but the Octavia Throughway that replaced it, (that’s through like boo, not cough) is a really pretty drive. (hoodline.com)

I took this slide picture, looking north from Mission Street, in September of 1991. The demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway, also closed due to the Loma Prieta Earthquake, had reached the Ferry Building by this time.

I’m not sure what was going on here at Columbus Ave. and Green Street in the late 1990s. Dan Quayle had indicated that he might run for president around this time, but I don’t know if that’s the main theme of the parade. (medium.com, Jay Hinman)