Ken Cathcart’s Chinatown

GMountaincoveruseRecently, I learned of a new book published in 2020 about San Francisco’s Chinatown in the past. Titled ‘GOLD MOUNTAIN, BIG CITY’, it’s an oversize book by author Jim Schein displaying much of the work of a mapmaker and photographer named Ken Cathcart while he lived in San Francisco during the 1930s. At $39.00 from, it’s a little pricey, but if you’re as intrigued by Chinatown as I am, it’s well worth it. Besides, there isn’t much else to do these days other than staying at home and reading a good book.  Besides wonderful vintage pictures of Chinatown and North Beach by Cathcart, mostly taken from 1937 to 1939, the book also includes a foldout map of Chinatown drawn by him in 1947. The book explores all of the areas drawn on Cathcart’s map. I had a great time during this past week, myself, exploring locations covered in the book, and taking pictures. I also know that there’s some concern and a little resentment by some people toward the residents living in Chinatown lately over COVID-19, and there shouldn’t be. Wikipedia states that Chinatown is “the most densely populated urban area west of Manhattan”, yet Chinatown has a remarkably low death rate from COVID-19. Chinatown is gradually and carefully coming back to life, and ‘GOLD MOUNTAIN, BIG CITY is a perfect way to visit there, either staying at home and reading or by going on location. My updates of a few of Ken Cathcart’s pictures are in black and white also; they turned out better that way.

CathcartMandarinoneuseGrant Avenue, between Jackson Street and Pacific Avenue, looking north in 1937: The old Mandarin Theater is in the background.

CathcartMandarintwouseLooking south in the opposite direction as the previous picture from Pacific Ave in 1939: The Mandarin Theater is on the right.

CathcartGrantSacramentouseLooking north on Grant Avenue past Sacramento Street in 1937: That’s a cable car from the old Sacramento Line passing by. You can see life starting to come back to Chinatown.

CathcartWaverlySacuseWaverly Place at Sacramento Street in 1938: Although considerable remodeled now, that’s the same building on the corner.

CathcartPlaygrounduseThe old Children’s Playground on Sacramento Street between Stockton Street and Grant Ave in 1937: an effort is underway to restore and preserve the old playground.

CathcartNWestGrantWashuseThe northwest corner of Washington Street and Grant Avenue in 1938: I like the old awning better.

CathcartGrantSacnorthuseThe same corner of Washington Street and Grant Avenue as in the previous picture, looking north in 1938:

CathcartChinaTheateruseThe Great China Theater, now the Great Star Theater, in 1938: They’re still putting on operatic shows at the Great Star Theater, although they have been closed since March because of the pandemic shutdown.

CathcartLadiesuseThese ladies in 1937 are coming out of the restaurant called Jackson Chow Mein seen in the previous picture next to the Great China Theater. There’s still a restaurant there today called Bund Shanghai Restaurant, but it’s take-out only due to the pandemic.


More on ‘Dark Passage’

DPLombarduseThe last time I rode the “Hyde Street Grip” up over Russian Hill to Downtown San Francisco I was able to get a spot to hang on to the outside of the cable car as we passed over the top of Russian Hill. This picture is looking down Lombard Street as we pass. The next block we approached is Greenwich and Hyde Streets; ‘Dark Passage’ territory. ‘Dark Passage’, of course, is the 1947 film noir set in San Francisco starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

DPHydeoneuseDPHydetwouseDPHydethreeuseAs we rattled toward Greenwich Street, we’re approaching the spot in the film where Humphrey Bogart boarded a cable car in his escape after causing Agnes Moorehead’s accidental death.

DPTamalpaisuseOn the west side of Hyde Street at Greenwich is the Tamalpais Apartment Building. In her top floor apartment here, Agnes Moorhead panics as Bogart tries to make her confess to killing his wife, which he went to prison for. She crashes through the window of her apartment and falls to her death. Well, there goes his alibi!

DPRooftopuseBogart goes the roof of the building and climbs down the fire escape.

DPFEscapeoneuseIn this cutaway shot of Bogie descending the stairs, you can see the old Hyde Street Reservoir.

DPFEscapetwouseDPFEscapethreeuseBogie jumps to the ground from a ladder below the stairs that no longer exists. You can see the fastening markers where the ladder used to be in my picture.

DPGreenwichHydeuseAs sirens approach, Bogart crosses Hyde Street to catch a convenient passing cable car to make his escape. Well, they did run more often back then, and as of right now they’re not running at all. This is looking down Greenwich Street toward Telegraph Hill.

DPHydeandGWichapproachuseWe’re getting ready to hook up with Bogie as we approach Greenwich.

DPHookupuseAnd right about here is where he jumped on a cable car, but he wouldn’t have found much room on ours. Bogie climbed on just about where the first parked car we’re approaching is.

DPgetawayuseDPTamalpaiscloseuseOnce on board, Bogie looks back at the Tamalpais Apartment Building. He can’t worry too much about Agnes Moorehead now; he’s got a date with the Dame de la crème, Lauren Bacall. I’ll close with a link to a film clip of the Tamalpais Apartments escape scene below.

The “real” streets of San Francisco (Part two)

A couple Augusts ago I posted ‘The “real” streets of San Francisco, ‘Part One’ as a follow up to a previous post I had done about the television show “The Streets of San Francisco’. There are some fine websites on the internet posting collections of vintage San Francisco photos;, the Charles Cushman Collection, and the Shorpy Archive, to name three of the best. There’s an interesting website I found last fall called ‘San Francisco Pictures’ (clever title). I can’t get much information on who sponsors the site, but they have thousands of good quality vintage San Francisco pictures that they categorize by street name and I’ve been having fun doing then and nows on them. They often name a source for their vintage pictures, and I’ll list those with my post.  We’ll start with the northwestern most picture, ignore Alfred Hitchcock’s advice, and travel south by southeast.

StreetsClayJonesuseClay Street looking east from Jones in 1978: Not a big change here, a few more buildings and they finished the Embarcadero Center. (Gosta Knochenhauer)

StreetsSacramentouseOne block south and three blocks east brings us to Sacramento and Powell Streets, looking east in 1965. (Bousquairol)

StreetsSacramentoPowelluseWe’ll step across Sacramento Street and back three years to 1962. Hmm, a full hour coverage of THE BIG NEWS from KPIX, Channel 5. A long way back from CNN and FOX.

StreetsBushPowelluseWe’ll travel south along Powell Street to Bush Street in a terrific picture from the SFMTA Photo Archive looking north up Nob Hill in 1914.

StreetsBushuseLooking east along Bush Street from Powell in 1967: I suddenly have a terrific urge to buy a six pack! (Douglas Campbell)

StreetsUSquareuseEast to Stockton Street and down to Geary Blvd. looking toward Union Square in 1928: It’s nice to see trucks that are older than the one I still own. (Gordon Morales)

StreetsOFarrelluseOne block south to O’Farrell and one block west brings us back to Powell Street looking north in 1961: I’d like to have got a shot over the hood of my car, but I take DO NOT ENTER signs personally. The green building on the right, I know, most of the buildings in the old photo are green, was where the old Omar Khayyam Restaurant used to be.

StreetEllisuseOne block south on Powell and east on Ellis Street brings us here, looking southeast down Ellis Street toward Market Street and the old Humboldt Building in the 1940s: Just behind me is John’s Grill where Sam Spade ordered lunch in the novel ‘The Maltese Falcon’. They’ve opened up with sidewalk dining again. I’ll have to stop by there again for lunch next time I’m in the area and buy a Brigid glass that they sell as souvenirs, named after Brigid O’Shaughnessy, the femme fatale of ‘The Maltese Falcon’. (Bennett Hall)

StreetsMarket&SansomeuseWe’ve headed east on Market Street to Sanome and Sutter Streets in 1963: That looks like a red Ford Fairlane Station Wagon on the right in the vintage photo. (JF Ciesla)

StreetClayandSansomeuseWe’ll double back north to Clay Street looking north along Sansome Street in 1929: Why, It hasn’t changed a bit! Actually, you’re not going to find anything left in the vintage photo from this spot today. Some of the buildings in the far background on Sansome may still exist today, but they can’t be seen in my photo. I couldn’t catch a speeding car zipping past in a blur in my picture. (SFMTA Photo Archives)



V-J Day plus 75

All of the vintage images in this set were taken on Market Street seventy five years ago, August 14th, 1945. Forever known as V-J Day, victory over Japan, it was the day Japan surrendered ending World War Two. San Francisco went into an orgy of celebrating and some of it wasn’t pleasant, but you can’t tell from these images. Let’s go back to that day for a moment and remember how important it was. Although I took most of my pictures this past week, I plan to go over to San Francisco on August 14th and walk around again where my comparisons were taken. Almost certainly, most of the people in the vintage images are gone now, but they had their moment to be proud of and they enjoyed it. It will feel strange again standing in the same spots they did and thinking about their moment in time. San Francisco, and the United States, for that matter, will probably never experience anything like it again.

VJ75TurkuseCelebrants climbing the Admission Day Monument at Turk, Mason, and Market Streets: The view is looking west along Turk Street. The monument was moved to Montgomery and Market Streets in 1977. (San Francisco Chronicle)

VJ75MasonMarketuseThe opposite view of the previous picture of the Admission Day Monument from ground level, looking back toward Market Street: (West Virginia & Regional History Center)

VJ75ParmountuseA crowd passes by the old Paramount Theater between Jones and Taylor Streets in a scene from wonderful color footage by C. R. Skinner: ‘Junior Miss’ wasn’t getting that much attention that day. Eh, Leonard Maltin only gives the film two and a half stars anyway. The Paramount was just east of the old Crocker Anglo Building on the corner of Jones and Market Streets and is blocking out the view of the Golden Gate Theater, seen in my picture.

VJ75PepsiColaCenterLooking past sailors and stalled streetcars toward Mason and Market Streets in more film footage from C. R. Skinner:

AmongGGTheateruseRevelers on top of a streetcar stopped at Market and Mason Streets: Behind them is the Golden Gate Theater. (SF Chronicle)

VJ756thuseLooking southeast across Market Street toward 6th in more footage from the C. R. Skinner film: The streetcar on the right has the message KEEP FAITH WITH OUR FIGHT. Many of the buildings in the vintage image are still around, including the tall white building at 6th and Market Streets, remodeled and green today.

VJ75StocktonMarketuseMore Streetcar partiers on Market Street looking north toward Stockton Street: West Virginia & Regional History Center)

4thAt the same intersection as the previous picture, a fellow picks up the rear portion of a streetcar, broken off and left on Market Street: (

VJ75MarketGrantuseLooking east along Market Street from Grant Avenue: (

VJ75girltoneuseVJ75girltwouseVJ75girlthreeuseVJ75girlfouruseVJ75girlfiveuseI’ve posted this series of images from C. R. Skinner’s footage in the past, but it really is a wonderful period piece. It took place on Market Street at Jones. In the top two photos, the girl in pink doesn’t seem too bothered when a lady near her is hugged by a passing sailor. In the third image another sailor grabs the girl in pink for a hug, placing a cap on her head. In the fourth image, the sailor has the girl in pink bent over in his arms and might being going a little too far. “Hey, buddy, no means no!” In the fifth and bottom picture, she breaks away and throws the cap back at him, angrily. “What’d I do? What’d I Do?”

VJ75girlsixuseHere’s the same spot today where “pretty in pink” valiantly fought for her honor.

VJ75kissuseMany people know about the famous Times Square New York picture of the sailor kissing a nurse on V-J Day. Well, there was a lot of kissing going on in San Francisco on August 14th 1945 too. This picture was taken at the intersection of Market and Taylor Streets with the Warfield Building in the background. They were a little farther out in Market Street, but if I took my picture that far out a tree would have blocked the Market Street entrance to the Warfield Building, seen in both photos. You can see part of the Warfield sign of Loew’s Warfield Theater that would later become the Fox Warfield Theater, and not to be confused with the glamorous Fox Theater, in the upper right of the vintage picture. I know, you may be wondering the same thing I was; did they get married? Maybe they were dating and did, but possibly they never saw each other again after August 14th 1945. The little jerk behind them almost spoils the picture. (West Virginia & Regional History Center)








“From the Ferry to Van Ness”

That’s a line from Lawrence W. Harris’s poem written just after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco.

{From the Ferry to Van Ness, you’re a God-forsaken mess. But the damnedest, finest ruins, nothing more and nothing less.}

These are a collection of comparison pictures I took this week from the Embarcadero to Van Ness Avenue. Downtown San Francisco isn’t a “God-forsaken mess”, but it’s not what it used to be right now; there isn’t a lot to do. This inspired me to do an awful take on Mr. Harris’s poem.

{From the Ferry to Van Ness, there is less to do, and less. But the damnedest, finest less, so that’s why I go, I guess.}

ParkerusePier3useActress Eleanor Parker christens the new California Zephyr train at Pier 3 near the Ferry Building in 1949: She played the wife of Kirk Douglas with an abortion secret two years later in the 1951 film ‘Detective Story’. (Top photo from Cross Country Chronicles, middle photo from

#rdandMarketuseMarket Street, looking west from 3rd, looks like the early 1960s: (SFMTA)

CTownSacramentouse Grant Avenue looking toward Sacramento Street in 1961: (Pinterest /

CTownGrantCalifuseGrant Avenue looking toward California Street in Chinatown in 1957: (

CrestuseCalifornia Street looking down from Powell Street on the top of Nob Hill in 1961: The Rolls Garage was originally the old Crest Garage, demolished in 2018. (Street Scenes of San Francisco in the 1960s)

EmporiumuseMarket Street in front of the old Emporium Department Store, now Westfield Center, in the 1970s: Westfield Center reopened for customers late in June, but shut down again earlier this week due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. (

TurnarounduseCablecaruseThe cable car turnaround at Powell and Market Streets in the 1970s: The vintage photo from should be labeled ‘The Rolling Stones meet Crocodile Dundee’. Earlier this month while I was “out in the field” I was able to enjoy seeing a cable car rattle down Powell Street toward the turnaround for a maintenance run. People on Powell Street cheered as the cable car went past.

FlooduseWork is finishing up repairing “the damndest, finest ruins” during May of 1909 in a SFMTA Archive photo from the Facebook page Lost San Francisco. The photo was taken at Market and 5th Streets looking toward the Flood Building.

CHalluseCity Hall in the 1920s: I’m suddenly hungry for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The vintage picture was taken farther back from where I’m standing, but that area has been closed off for temporary homeless shelters due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. (

CHallFranklinuseFulton Street looking past Franklin toward Van Ness Avenue and the City Hall in the 1940s: The arched building on the left, just visible past the tree in my photo, is the Veterans Building where the United Nations was created 75 years ago last month. (



It’s July

“It’s July, and I have hope in who I am becoming”

Well, if that was Charlotte Erickson’s allegory for halfway through the year / halfway through life, I hope she became who she wanted to be. Me, I passed that turnpike awhile back, and right now I just have hopes of things becoming the way they used to be.

TaxDay2020redoJessicaAlthough I enjoyed the stretch, a Tax Day in July seems unpatriotic, (my take on a cartoon) and pretty girls looking a combination of Uncle Sam and Jesse James made for an unusual 4th of July. Anyway, tax season ended this week and I did what I usually do after the deadline to file tax returns, I went over to San Francisco to take pictures.

JulyBBridgeuseI approached the San Francisco City & County Limit the way I often do, on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge. The vintage picture was taken on the opening day of the bridge, November 12th 1936. Treasure Island was still under construction then. This whole portion of the bridge was replaced in 2013.

JulyMarinaGreenuseStopped for lunch on the Marina Green, seen in the 1950s in a cool looking vintage picture from the San Francisco Remembered Facebook page: (Lily Castello)

JulyMarinaHarboruseLooking across the Marina Yacht Harbor toward the Palace of Fine Arts during the 1950s; yachts have gotten bigger since then. See if you can spot which one is mine. “Knock it off, Tim!” (Vintage Everyday)

JulyPier43useLooking through the arch of Pier 43 toward Pier 45 where the Liberty Ship the Jeremiah O’Brien was docked before the disastrous fire at the pier last May forced the ship to relocate. I’m really unhappy about that. You can see the fire damage to the pier.

JulyohioanuseSpeaking of ships, this has to be one of the spookiest San Francisco pictures I’ve seen. That’s the SS Ohioan, shipwrecked and stranded on the rocks behind the old Sutro Bathhouse in 1936. In December of the following year, what was left of the ship broke in two and sank into the Pacific Ocean. (

JulyOhioan2A vintage picture from shows the stranded ship being pounded into the rocks by the surf. Salvage efforts continued on the ship for over a year before she sank.

JulyGhirardelliuseLooking toward Ghirardelli Square during the 1960s: The Ghirardelli letters on the roof were taken down recently for restoration. Just as I was getting ready to snap the picture, a MUNI bus pulled up and the driver got out. Oh, well, we have to rise above. (


San Franciscana (Part Two)

The beginning of an exciting summer; and why not? True, there’ll be no 4th of July gatherings, no county fairs, still no Disneyland, and I won’t be hanging out at the beach checking out the girls; which won’t be a problem because they never paid much attention to me anyway. Still, the weather will be warmer, and San Francisco is as exciting of a place to visit during the summer right now as anywhere else. These are a collection of pictures I took in San Francisco during the first week of summer.

CanaHarrisonuse Harrison Street, looking east from Fremont Street in 1956: You can’t see the last tower on the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge from here anymore. The FedEx and utility truck block the view down toward the Embarcadero where Pier 24, demolished in the 1990s, once was. That’s the old Hill’s Brothers Coffee Building down the street at the bottom left. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

CanaColumbususeThe Columbus Statue at Coit Tower during the 1960s: The statue was taken down and put in storage earlier in June. (

CanaMasonuseMason Street, between California and Pine Streets: If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to drive while wearing 3D glasses, the vintage photo from the 1950s will give you an idea. (

CanaCTownuseGrant Avenue at Washington Street in 1973: They’re slowly starting to trickle back into Chinatown as well, and a few of the gift shops are starting to reopen too. (

CanaTPhoneuseThis building used to be the Telephone Exchange Building where a lot of the to and from long distance calls in San Francisco were directed by operators receiving them. It was considered so important that after Pearl Harbor it was sandbagged to minimize damage in the event of the Japanese bombing San Francisco.  Those would be great against vandals today, but they have some other kind of metal temporary doors and windows guarding the building now.

CanaLombarduseTourists are starting to come back to Lombard Street slowly, as well. They’re getting close to the level of the vintage picture taken in 1975. After I took my picture, I walked past four girls grouping together for a selfie. I gave them a thumbs up and said, “A masterpiece!” and they giggled. It made me feel good, like the old days in San Francisco. You Know, like four months ago. (The Houston Chronicle)

CanaFBuildinguseThe bunting on the Ferry Building in the picture fits right in with the 4th of July coming up this weekend, but it was actually taken February 18th 1939 celebrating the opening day of the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island.

CanaKearnyuseGeary Blvd. at Kearny Street near Market during the 1950’s: The entrance to the old Chronicle Building is on the right in both photos. I can take a straighter picture than the vintage picture, but not nearly as interesting of a one. Hmm, ‘COLONICS-X-RAY’, I wonder if chiropractic doctors still offer that service anymore. (

CanaSentinaluseI’ve wanted to do this one for awhile; Kearny Street at Columbus Avenue, (at least for now) in 1910. That’s the Sentinel Building, owned by Francis Ford Coppola, on the left in both pictures. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

CanaTHilluseRussian Hill from Telegraph Hill in the 1800s: They’ve put up a few more shacks around here since then. You can just see the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge through the fog in my picture.









Reclaiming Market Street

As I mentioned in a post early in the spring, the shelter-in-place proclamation that went into effect in the Bay Area on March 17th had turned Market Street into something of an urban nightmare. With workers, shoppers, and visitors gone, a lot of people who have been prowling around Market Street since March 17th are not friendly people. Months before the riots of June, buildings along Market Street were boarded up to prevent the windows being smashed out. The eerie quiet of San Francisco’s main thoroughfare mixed with the yelling from many demented or angry street people is something I’ll never forget. However, since the beginning of June more people have come back to Market Street who are not there to cause trouble or aggressively panhandle, and the street has become a little friendlier since my March 23rd post. Yesterday, Juneteenth Day, I walked along Market Street from 5th Street to the Ferry Building, and for the first time in months, I smiled at some of people that I socially distanced from as a precaution, not because of a threat. These are comparison pictures I took along the way of old postcards of Market Street from the early 1900s.

ReclaimFlooduseLooking east from 5th Street toward the Flood Building: The Emporium sign on the building on the right now has Bloomingdale’s painted on it. The domed Humboldt Building, built in 1908, is in the background of both images.

ReclaimEmporiumuseI’m closer now to the Flood Building and the old Emporium Building on the right. The crowned Call Building, remodeled and now called Central Tower, can be seen behind the Humboldt Building.

ReclaimePhelanuseI’m in front of the Emporium Building now. If it wasn’t for the shade, I’d have been a lot happier with this picture. Many of the old buildings, like the West Bank Building, the Phelan Building and the Gothic looking Mutual Savings Bank Building, are still there.

ReclaimHumboldtuse4th Street and closer to the Humboldt Building seen in a postcard from 1915:

ReclaimGrantuseMarket Street at Grant Avenue: This one has the postmark on it. Four Buildings still seen on the right from the same period as the postcard are the Hearst Building, the Monadnock Building, the Palace Hotel, and the Metropolis Trust and Savings Bank Building. I’m standing near the old pillared Union Trust Building.

ReclaimLottsuseLotta’s Fountain at Kearny and Market Streets; at a little different angle now, but in the same spot where it was originally placed in 1875:

ReclaimPalaceuseThe Palace Hotel, rebuilt in 1909 after the original grand hotel, built in 1875 and visited by the likes of Ulysses S. Grant and Enrico Caruso, who was staying at the hotel when the 1906 earthquake struck, was destroyed during that disaster.

ReclaimSPuseI ended up at the Ferry Building, looking past where the old pedestrian footbridge was toward the Southern Pacific Building. The crowd of demonstrators in my picture were gathering to commemorate Juneteenth Day, the annually recognized day of the end of the slavery of African Americans in the Confederate States. They took over Market Street for awhile too, but they didn’t cause any trouble or hurt anybody.





The spring that wasn’t (For the Institute for Historical Study)

Well, we’re a week away from the summer solstice. Spring, and the things that I look forward to each year; the end of Tax Season, baseball games, Disneyland, the Rowell Ranch Rodeo Chili Cook-Off, and the opening of the Alameda County Fair were just a few of spring traditions I like that were closed or  cancelled starting on March 17th. Even St. Patrick’s Day, which really isn’t in spring but to me represents the arrival of spring, was quiet and depressing. On February 29th 2020 I was invited to the 40th annual meeting of the Institute for Historical Study at the Dimond Branch Library in Oakland. I had recently been approved for membership in the society, and I was proud to be there. They had a number of upcoming events I was looking forward to enjoying, which, of course, have been postponed right now. I don’t think anyone in that room anticipated what was coming or how the world would change in just a few weeks, and spring would slip away a bad memory. These are a collection of pictures I posted during spring seasons of happier years. Many people are suffering heartbreak  to due to COVID-19 at this time, so I don’t want this post to seem like a complaint; it’s just reminiscence.

Mar212016useMarch 21st 2016, the first full day of spring: San Francisco gets lots of rain in the spring. The vintage picture at 1st and Market Streets was taken during the 1930s. (San Francisco Main Library History Room)

Mar212016twouseMarch 21st 2016: The vintage picture from the Shorpy Archives was taken at the old El Capitan Theater on Mission Street between 19th and 20th Streets.

April22017useApril 2nd 2017: The restored Dutch Windmill on the northwest corner of Golden Gate Park.

April232016April 23rd 2016: Ocean Beach and the old gingerbread Cliff House, destroyed in a fire in 1907. (The Cliff House Project website)

April272016useApril 27th 2016: Kids “nipping the fender” on a streetcar at South Van Ness and 26th Street, (mislabeled in the vintage picture as being at 26th and Army Street) in 1943. (Charles Smallwood)

May22017useMay 2nd 2017: Grant Avenue and Sacramento Street in Chinatown in the 1930s.

May62015useMay 6th 2015: Lotta’s Fountain at Kearny and Market Streets in a wonderful vintage photo from the early 1900s.

May132018useMay 13th 2018: The view from Corona Heights in a comparison picture I took on Mother’s Day in May of 2018, back when the word corona wasn’t so scary. The vintage picture was taken in the 1960s. Mother’s Day was another spring tradition lost during the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020. (Michael Bry)

May132018twouseMay 13th 2018, the Cliff House in the 1950’s: I sure will be glad when that opens up again. (virginiapicks)

May182016useMay 18th 2016: Sleeping Beauty Castle on Disneyland’s opening day, July 17th 1955. I can hardly wait to get back there as well. I don’t think crowds will bother me as much anymore after the lonely emptiness right now at places I enjoy going to, like Disneyland.

May232017useMay 23rd 2017, Yosemite National Park: May and October are my two favorite times to visit Yosemite. In May the waterfalls are spectacular due to the runoff of the melting snows from the mountains. October is the best month to catch the fall colors of Yosemite before it gets too cold. I missed the park in May of this year, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for October.

May302016useMay 30th 2016, at what was then called AT&T Park: To paraphrase Jack Nicholson as McMurphy in the 1975 movie ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, “Somebody give me a hotdog (at the ballpark) before I die!” The vintage picture is of Willie Mays knocking one out of Candlestick Park during the 1960’s. (Barnaby Conrad and Bay Area Photographers Society)

May302016twouseMay 30th 2016: Ah, the Jeremiah O’Brien moored at Pier 45; she’s not there anymore. The pier to the right of where the Liberty Ship was docked at was destroyed in a huge fire, and the ship has moved over to Pier 35 for the time being. The top photo is a Philippine cargo shop on the waterfront in the 1950s. (Phil Palmer)

June12017June 1st 2017: The Tea House at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. The vintage picture from the 1940s was when the name of the garden was changed to the Oriental Tea Garden after Pearl Harbor until 1952. The name Oriental Tea Garden would cause a reverse offense from many Asian people nowadays.

June92016useJune 9th 2016: Janis Joplin on the corner of Cole and Haight Streets in 1967.   (

June142016useJune 14th 2016: The cable car turnaround at Powell and Market Streets, seen in a vintage picture from the late 1930s. And wouldn’t it be nice to go for a ride on a cable car again someday.

June182016useJune 18th 2016: I’ll end my spring look back at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, another cancellation in 2020 due to the pandemic. I might be able to go to Disneyland someday in the near future, but for this annual tradition I‘ll have to wait for another year.





Four on the hill

Not to be confused with the ‘The Fool on the Hill’, although sometimes lately my head is in a cloud like his is. That probably comes from breathing too much of my own carbon dioxide in my safety mask. I was feeling a little restless in the office yesterday, so I decided to head over to Telegraph Hill after my last client left. It’s peaceful and quiet up there and there’s been plenty of parking lately, although there were a lot more people on top of “Telygraft Hill” yesterday than there has been in months.

THillsailorsuseSailors enjoying the view from Pioneer Park behind Coit Tower, either in the late 1930s or during World War Two; I couldn’t get a date on this fine picture. (

THillBalastradeuseI’m assuming the artist Luigi Kasimir wouldn’t have drawn this terrific sketch looking northwest from the steps of Coit Tower in the 1930s if the portable bathroom and concession stand were there then, the trees blocked the view like today, and the balustrade wasn’t there. You can barely see the Marin County hills through the trees and glare in my picture. (

THillAptuse1360 Montgomery Street, the most famous apartment building on Telegraph Hill: It was here that Humphrey Bogart hid out with Lauren Bacall in the 1947 film ‘Dark Passage’. (, posted by Cory Doctorow)

THillFStepsredoLooking down the Filbert Steps toward Montgomery Street in 1959: You have to get a little closer to the street to see the view from here today. I picked up a dragonfly at the top of my picture. (Gene Wright)