Some now and thens along #30

Well, yesterday was the last day of summer. Or is it today? It didn’t seem like much of a summer; I did make it to Disneyland, the Alameda County Fair was back, and I did take a lot of pictures around San Francisco. However, I spent most of my summer evenings at home, drinking beer and watching reruns of ‘Gunsmoke’. Wait a minute, it was a great summer! On the Sunday before Labor Day, I took an F Line streetcar (which was standing room only) to Fisherman’s Wharf, and took the Number 30 Muni Line along Stockton Street back to avoid the crowds. I got a window seat, and took some pictures of cross streets along the way back to Market Street. Later, I tried to find vintage pictures that closely matched the ones I took. Now and thens are a lot more difficult than then and nows for getting comparison pictures and they seldom line up perfectly, but there’s no better site on the internet to find pictures that match-up than

Broadway at Stockton Street in 1969: I was relatively close to where the older picture was taken, although a little further back, but I got a closer image of the Bay Bridge.

Looking down Clay Street from Stockton at the ruins of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake:

Looking down Post Street from Stockton toward Market Street in 1911:

Maiden Lane from Stockton Street in 1949: The Union Square Lounge, on the right in the vintage photo, was a favorite watering hole in the area for many years, and was seen in a number of films, such as ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’. The original entrance door to the Union Square Lounge can still be seen today in Maiden Lane behind a metal gate.


Looking down Geary from Stockton Street toward Market Street in 1912: You can see the Palace Hotel in the far background in both pictures.


Looking down O’Farrell Street toward Market in 1906; just after the earthquake and before the fire destroyed almost all of this area: The Call Building, now remodeled and called the Central Tower, survived the 1906 disaster and is at right center in both pictures.


Here, the #30 crosses Market Street from Stockton to 4th Street, and is where I got off the bus. The vintage picture from 1909 lines up pretty good with the shot I took through the bus window, and a lot of the buildings seen in the old photo, such as the Phelan Building, the Gothic Mutual Savings Bank Building, and the Call Building can still be seen.








A tour guide par excellence

And who better? Somewhere along the way, and I can’t remember when or where, I came across an autographed copy of ‘Herb Caen’s New Guide to San Francisco’, originally published in 1957. If you could go back into time, it would be about the best tour book you could find. It’s still a wonderful guide, but a lot of it now is nostalgia. It covers mostly San Francisco, but the updated 1958 publication includes a little of other locations in the Bay Area. The drawings throughout the book by Earl Trollander are all San Francisco locations, and I updated a few of them with photographs to match the drawings as closely as I could. I’ll include some of the descriptive passages by, also columnist par excellence, Herb Caen, in brackets. (Thumbnail images)

The Ferry Building and Bay Bridge from Telegraph Hill: {Turn left on Columbus to Lombard Street, then turn right and follow it up Telegraph Hill to Coit Memorial Tower, where you may park (if you’re lucky) and drink in one of the world’s great views – an overwhelming panorama of bridges, Bay, ocean, mountains, and. of course, Alcatraz, the prison island.}

Union Square, looking toward the Dewey Monument: {If you pick this as your jumping-off place for strolling and shopping, you might start with a look around Union Square itself. (“What a town,” jazzist Dizzy Gillespie once observed. “They even have a union for squares!”) The origin of the name is officially unknown, but the strongest theory has it that Union supporters rallied there during the Civil War.}

Looking across Washington Square from Columbus Avenue and Union Street: {This is in North Beach, which isn’t a beach, isn’t on Washington Street, isn’t a square, and doesn’t contain a statue of Washington but of Benjamin Franklin.}

Old St. Mary’s Church in Chinatown, from Quincy Alley: I had to take my picture closer to California Street in order to get most of Old St. May’s in because of the newer building on the left in the alley today. {Drive down California to Grant Avenue, turn left (past Old St. Mary’s Church, over one hundred years old) – and you’re in Chinatown, with its ornate lampposts, its bazaars, its tinkling Oriental sounds.}

Commercial Street, looking toward the Ferry Building: {Walking along Grant Avenue in Chinatown, you may glance down an alley called Commercial Street, and see, to your surprise, the Ferry Building, standing sentinel-straight on the Embarcadero. For tiny Commercial and mighty Market streets have one thing in common: they are the only streets you can look straight down – and see the Ferry Building.}

Market, Kearny and Third Streets, with Lotta’s Fountain on the left, looking toward the Hearst Building: Lotta’s Fountain was much taller in 1958. {San Francisco has a horrific traffic problem, especially in the tightly knit downtown area, where the main street, Market, slashes diagonally from the Ferry Building to Twin Peaks, making virtual dead ends of most of the other arteries. Watch out for Market. It’s a tricky devil, jammed with streetcars, busses, traffic islands, cops, and more “No Left Turn,” No Right Turn,” “No-“ this and No-“ that signs than you thought ever existed.}

Fred Lyon

Remembering Fred Lyon, the master photographer who died last month: I get a kick out of duplicating his picture locations, but you can sure tell who the artist was. (Thumbnail images)

The old Jones Street cable car line at Jones and O’Farrell Streets in the Tenderloin:

The Filbert Street drop, between Hyde and Leavenworth:

Green Street in North Beach:

The traditional telephone booth next to Old St. Mary’s in Chinatown:

Mason Street, next to the Mark Hopkins Hotel:

The Filbert Street Steps on Telegraph Hill:







Hit and Miss

These are a few updates of vintage San Francisco pictures that I took during the last two weeks of August, A “Hit” is a comparison where I’m satisfied that I got the best result I was able to achieve for an accurate line up. A “Miss” is a picture that, for some reason or another, didn’t turn out the way I hoped it would. (Thumbnail images)

Hit. Looking up Powell Street from O’Farrell in 1936: This one turned out about as accurate on the location as any of the comparison pictures that I’ve done in the past. (SFMTA/San Francisco Picture Blog)

Miss. Ellis Street, looking toward Powell in 1914: The Building at the far right in the vintage photo has been demolished and is now where Cyril Magnin Street is today. I took my picture just past Cyril Magnin Street, but I should have been a little further back. Also, it’s a little blurry. (SFMTA/San Francisco Picture Blog)

Hit: Turk, Mason and Market Streets in 1945. I got a pretty good line up on this one. The Admission Day Monument in the vintage photo, placed at this intersection in 1897, is now at Market and Montgomery Streets. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

Miss: The Powell Street cable car turnaround at Market Street. I was trying to duplicate a wide-angle picture from photographer Gene Wright from the late 1950s with the panoramic option on my iPhone. I got the line up pretty good with the Number One Powell Building on the left and the Flood Building on the right, so this could also be a Hit, However, I didn’t get the fisheye lens effect in Gene Wright’s photo.

Hit: Union Square in the 1950s: I did the best I could with my iphone panorama option to duplicate another one of Gene Wright’s wide-angle pictures, and I’m happy with it.

Miss: Continuing in my attempt to duplicate some of Gene Wright’s wide-angle pictures with the panorama option on my iPhone, I headed over to California Street, just up from Grant Avenue, where this 1950s photo was taken. Either I did something wrong, or the people on that cable car should have only had to pay half price!