“Say it ain’t so, Joe!”

I’ve been hearing scuttlebutt from Fisherman’s Wharf that they may be tearing down these two famous restaurants, Alioto’s and #9 Fishermen’s Grotto, in the not too distant future. I hope it’s not true, but it probably is; they’re just empty and sad looking now anyway. They’ll probably replace them with a Chipotle and Poke Bowl take-out. The place just won’t be the same anymore without them. (Thumbnail images)


(Vintage photo opensfhistory.org)

(Vintage photo from Foundsf.org)

(Vintage photo Gene Gallagher Photos)

(Vintage picture from the Charles Cushman Collection)





‘Portrait of a City’

I first learned about the book ‘San Francisco, Portrait of a City’ by Taschen Publishers last spring. It looked promising, but at $75.00, it seemed a little pricey, so I thought I’d wait awhile to see if I could buy a cheaper copy later. The price didn’t come down much by year’s end, but I did find a copy for sale at $55.00 in December on the internet. Here’s the first thing I’ll say about the book; it’s probably the heaviest book I’ve ever tried to read. At nearly ten pounds, if you were to drop it on your foot, you could possibly become crippled for life. The reason for this is that for each chapter, the text is printed in English, German, and French, separately. This makes the already oversized book weight three times as much as it normally would. The pictures aren’t repeated though, so for each chapter, the picture descriptions in the book appear in all three languages. That being said, if you can find a good desk or drafting table to prop it up to, the book is well worth browsing through. Mainly, this is because of the terrific vintage pictures throughout the book; some of which I’ve cover in the past from different sources, but many that I’ve never seen before. The cover picture here is at the Grant Avenue at Bush Street entrance to Chinatown during the 1950s. My update on the right is from June, 2022. (Thumbnail images)

First: So, you think the Skystar Ride in Golden Gate Park is exciting? Well, look at this beanbag! He’s going to walk down the giant rail on that ball. This attraction was held in the 1894 Midwinter Exposition, in the same area of the park where the Skystar is now.

California Street, just down from Stockton Street in 1915: Old St. Mary’s Church is blocked from the view here now. The Lenox Apartment Building on the right, next to the pagoda Sing Fat Building, would later serve as the Trafalgar Building in the 1947 movie ‘My Favorite Brunette’ Starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.

A two page image of the San Francisco skyline from a ferryboat during the 1920s: My update isn’t a bad attempt, as far as bad attempts go, considering my picture was taken several nautical miles north of the path the ferryboat in the vintage image was taking. Some of the buildings still around, that you can see from left to right in the vintage picture, are the Hills Brothers Building, the Pacific Telephone Building, the Call Building, the Hobart Building, the Hunter-Doolin Building, the Matson Building, the Russ Building, the Mark Hopkins, and the Ferry Building.

The Chinese New Year Parade, coming up Pine Street near Grant Avenue in 1934, was a much smaller event back then. At the end of Pine Street, at Market Street, you can see the Matson and PG&E Building in both pictures. The enormous Russ Building, once the tallest building in San Francisco, can be seen peeking out on the right in my photo. The little white building with the uneven windows in the foreground on the right is still around.

Another two page picture, one of my favorites in the book, is looking west along Market Street from Montgomery Street during the 1950s. The Palace Hotel is on the left.

Several posts back I asked if any of my readers ever wondered what people from the 1970s looked like in front of the Vaillancourt Fountain. Of course, I was just in a silly mood…… However, have you ever wondered what people looked like in front of the Crown Zellerbach Building on Market Street in 1962? Actually, they all look kind of bored.

The ‘Wild, Wild, West’ on Fulton Street:

In December of 1942, when bison were being herded into their current Buffalo Paddock location near Spreckels Lake in Golden Gate Park, kids taunting the bison caused one of the animals to break free and start running through the park. A bison charging through Golden Gate Park, now that’s scary! The police weren’t equipped to corral it, and they didn’t want to kill it. “I’m a cowboy who never saw a cow. Never roped a steer, ‘cause I don’t know how! And I sure ain’t fixin’ to start in now.” So, the equestrians from the horse stables of the park, chased the desperado down Fulton Street, and lassoed it at Fulton Street at 6th Avenue. Even James West would have been out of his league here. It’s a good thing that Buffalo Bill was dead by then or he’d have shot the animal, like he was so famous for doing. The vintage Fulton Street photos are from an article by Peter Hartlaub of the S. F. Chronicle.  (Thumbnail images)


Prowling around the Port (Part Three)

I got another chance during the last week of December, 2022 to do a little more exploring along the Embarcadero, probably my favorite street in San Francisco. You can still experience a lot of the old-time atmosphere during the days when San Francisco was a larger port city than Oakland when you walk along the street. If you close your eyes, you can hear foghorns, trains passing, and the loud voices of the long-ago port workers. That’s probably because you can still hear foghorns during thick fog, the F Line streetcars are always rattling past, and there’s more people walking along the Embarcadero now than there ever was in the past, and they can be just as loud as the longshoremen unloading ships. The vintage pictures are from the San Francisco Public Linrary Archives. (Thumbnail images)

Pier 19 and the old Belt Line railroad tracks during the 1930s:

I know it was a convenient way to get to Downtown SF, Chinatown and North Beach, but what a blight the Embarcadero Freeway was on the landscape.

In case you ever wondered what people in front of the Viallancourt Fountain during the 1970s looked like, and who hasn’t? The fountain gets a lot criticism for being ugly because it looks like the entrails of a giant cement robot, but I like it.

One block south of the Ferry Building during the 1950s: The Johnson’s Café and Naval Uniforms buildings are gone, but the Audiffred Building on the right is still around.

This old strip of buildings that ran from Market Street to Mission, between Steuart Street and the Embarcadero, was demolished during the 1960s.

100 Drumm Street, then, and where it would have been today. I know the area had to change, but you don’t see Americana, like in the old picture, much around San Francisco anymore.