The Wharf that was (and is)

I’ve been hearing stories about how dead Fisherman’s Wharf has become, so I headed over there late Sunday to see how bad it is. Like Mark Twain, reports of its death have been “greatly exaggerated”. Some of the restaurants are closed, but a lot of the nice ones are still open, and the springtime crowd was back to normal. I did see one homeless tent on Jefferson Street that doesn’t belong there anymore than it does on Main Street, Disneyland, but Fisherman’s Wharf is still the largest tourist attraction in San Francisco, and people were having fun. (Thumbnail images)

Jefferson and Taylor Streets; Alioto’s and #9 Fishermen’s Grotto are closed now and I didn’t stay as late in the afternoon as the 1940s photo, but I hung around for awhile. (San Francisco Public Library Archives)

The Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon in the 1960s; It wasn’t a bad attempt of “stuplicating” the old wide angle photo. (San Francisco Public Library Archives)

I always get a kick out of taking a picture across the Boat Lagoon at the same spot where my 17 year old mom took her photo looking across the tiny fishing boats they had back then toward DiMaggio’s Restaurant. This was before ‘Joltin’ Joe’s hitting streak and Marilyn Monroe.

But to me, what’s missing from Fisherman’s Wharf and great photo location spots like this, is the World War II Liberty Ship the Jeremiah O’Brien. I wish the crew all the luck with their move to Pier 35, but I wish the ship was still at Pier 45.

Pier 45, when the Jeremiah O’Brien was there, and last Sunday: Only the World War II submarine, the USS Pampanito, is there now, and that is a great attraction to tour, as well.

When I was up on Telegraph Hill last week, I took a picture of Fisherman’s Wharf through the unnecessarily high trees surrounding the Coit Tower parking lot. This is about the only spot you can see Fisherman’s Wharf from the parking lot anymore. When I was searching for Fisherman’s Wharf pictures on the San Francisco Library Archives site, I found this close lineup of the Wharf from the parking lot, taken probably during the 1960s.

Telegraph Hill revisited, 2023

Exploring Telegraph Hill is not for sissies; I’m reminded of that every time I forget that I’m not 25, 35 or even 45 anymore. With only one mode of public transportation climbing or descending the mountain, (well, let’s face it, that’s what it is) you’re going to do a lot of walking, much of it on hills or steps. So, the trick is to be heading downhill whenever possible. (Thumbnail images)


The easiest way to top of “owld Telygraft Hill” if you’re not driving, is to climb up the west side, courtesy of Muni #39, the only public bus that that goes to the top of the hill. I always enjoy the view of Saints Peter and Paul Church, Washington Square and Coit tower from Union Street and Columbus Avenue while I’m waiting for the bus, so I snapped a picture with my iPhone. When I got back to the office, I found a reasonable comparison photo from the 1930s from The rest of the vintage pictures are from the San Francisco Public Library Archives.


The northwest view of the old balustrade railing from the Coit Tower steps during the 1930s: Those urns would be stolen overnight nowadays. I wanted to go to the top of the tower, but just like the last time I went up, the elevator was out of service. For the price of admission, they were offering visitors again yesterday the option of taking the stairs up again, but I did that last November and I’m still recovering.

Pioneer Park, from behind where Coit Tower is now, during probably the late 1920s: It’s impossible to be sure exactly where the girl was standing, but my guess is about here; the vintage picture is looking toward Kearny Street, and you can see the Call and Chronicle Buildings in the background. I’ll have to ask my friend, Tony, if it’s possible that the tree to the left of where the girl was facing the camera in the vintage picture, and on the right in my photo is the same tree.

I headed down the Filbert Steps to the old, and now closed, Shadows Restaurant. I was in there shortly before it closed and it was nearly empty and lonely, but what a view from the bar!


Here’s an earlier photo of the Shadows. There was obviously fire damage, but I don’t know the story.


This is as close as I can get to a line up to where these kids were playing on Montgomery Street before the steps were built here between Union and Green Streets in 1928. The round cornered building on the left can be seen through the trees in my picture; the building across Montgomery Street, right center, is still there, as well.

I continued down the Filbert Steps to the bottom.  In January, I decided to walk up to the top of the hill from these steps. I’m still recovering from that too. Heading down, I passed a fellow walking up with a tired looking little girl. I smiled at the kid and said, “Don’t worry, only about a million more steps to go!” He gave me an unfriendly look, and she looked worried, and asked the guy if they did have a million more steps to go. To soothe her I said, “Just kidding, you’re almost there.” which they weren’t. She’ll hate me for the rest of her life. This photo is looking back up the steps from Sansome Street.

Sansome Street at Filbert, looking south: Those buildings on top of Telegraph Hill on Alta Street are still there.

“Hey, you threw the football over the wall! Go get it.”











Easter Sunday Noir

With the extended tax season here in California, I thought things might slow down, but they haven’t. I just leave the office every night tired, and saying to myself over and over again, “Refund, good; balance due, not good.” Yesterday, though, I took a few hours off to go over to SF and update some nourish looking pictures taken along Market Street. It was a pretty and warm day, and people around town were enjoying themselves after that crazy winter. (Thumbnail images)

I started at Market and Powell Streets, looking across Market toward the old Emporium Store. The domed Humboldt Building is in the background.


The Powell Street cable car turnaround in the 1940s: This isn’t a bad line up, considering that the turntable isn’t in the same spot as it was back then.

I moved along Market Street to 4th to get this update. The old State Theater marquee is on the right.

Crossing over Market Street from 4th to Stockton Street, and a better look at where the State Theater was. The Call Building, now called the Central Tower, is in the background of both pictures:

The southwest corner of 3rd and Market Street, looking toward the old Chronicle Building:

“Now, I’m standing on the corner of Third and Market. I’m looking around. I’m figuring it out. There it is, right in front of me. The whole city, the whole world. People going by. They’re going somewhere. I don’t know where, but they’re going. I ain’t going anywhere.” – From the play ‘The Time of Your Life’ by William Saroyan.

I ended up near the Ferry Building, looking back up along Market Street. The Southern Pacific and Matson Shipping Buildings are on the left. On the right, the Hyatt Regency is now where the Terminal Hotel was.

“The Terminal Hotel. Once you stay with us, you’ll never leave.”








Pingbacks is a Word Press expression for when you create a link to another blog post. Usually it refers to one blog creator linking to a post from another individual’s blog, and is allowable, as long as the other blog accepts the pingback. These are pingbacks from my blog to my own posts, so I don’t think any rules are being broken here. It’s kind of self-serving, but with the 2023 income tax season extended to the fall here in California, I’ll be spending a lot more time in the office this year than usual, and I may not be able to get  “out in the field” as often as I’d like to for awhile. These are pingbacks to some of the post that I enjoyed working on the most. Each of the following pictures will have a link to the post that they originally appeared in.

‘The perfect San Francisco day, split over three days’

‘This Was San Francisco’


‘Nineteenth Century views from Nabob Hill’

‘Experiment in Terror revisited’

‘Down these streets’

‘San Francisco in the 1980s’ 

‘A Nob Hill Mystery’

‘San Francisco in the 1960s’

‘Mom and the summer of 1939’

‘San Francisco movie locations through the decades’