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.






3 thoughts on “Prowling around the Port (Part Three)

  • A few smaller fountains of the same style as that of the Viallancourt Fountain inhabited downtown San Jose, but I can not remember where they were. They were so similar that I would guess that they were designed by the same artist or artists. They might have been where San Carlos Street became a pedestrian mall through San Jose State University. It is odd how some of my generation remember them, but can not remember where they were. Like so many of the assets of San Jose, they did not last for long. I remember them prior to 1980, but not afterward. You know, although I did not like what they looked like, they were quite stylish, and would still be stylish if they were there now. It is saddening that so much gets eliminated because it gets old, but before it gets appealingly old. Victorian homes were new once, and many did not survive middle age. Well, I could rant on that for a while.
    I can sort of see why the people of San Francisco were concerned about the prominence of the Canary Island date palms. I do like them; but there are quite a few for San Francisco.

    • Interesting, Tony. I looked up information on the artist who designed the fountain, Amand Vaillancourt, who’s 93 and still around, but couldn’t get any info on whether he designed any other similar fountains in the Bay Area. Also, the Canary Island palm trees run from the baseball park where the Giants play to almost Fisherman’s Wharf. They’re certainly better to look at than monstrosities like the Embarcadero Freeway, but along the old shipping area north of the Ferry Building, they sometimes look out of place, to me.

      • Yes, I get it. I happen to be quite fond of those stately palms. However, to me, their ‘style’ in such abundance seems to be a bit non compliant with that part of San Francisco. I think that they would be more appealing if they were not quite so numerous.

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