The Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty Ship moves to Pier 35

The Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty Ship moves to Pier 35:
To celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, I took a visit to the new home at Pier 35 of this famous ship named after an Irish-American Navy Captain from the Revolutionary War. I’ve been visiting this historic World War II ship since she was docked at Fort Mason in the 1980s. Anything they can do to keep this ship museum in operation is okay with me, but gone forever are some of the spectacular views of Fisherman’s Wharf, the Bay, and the San Francisco skyline that could be seen from when the ship was berthed at Pier 45. (Thumbnail images)

The Jeremiah O’Brien in a slide shot I took when she was docked at Fort Mason:


The ship in lock-up in March of 2020, shortly after the shelter in place due to the Pandemic was ordered.


The Jeremiah O’Brien at her new home alongside Pier 35: She faces the Bay in the opposite direction than when the ship was at Pier 45. Ships are gender-neutral, so referring to them as ‘her’ and ‘she’ may become politically incorrect someday, but I hope not. With an F Line Streetcar stop right out front, the ship will be easier to reach now.


Looking across the ship toward Telegraph Hill in 2019 and yesterday:

The view from the ship toward the Golden Gate Bridge, looking over Pier 45 in 2019 and looking over Pier 39 yesterday: Fort Mason is in the background of the top photo.


Looking west toward Ghirardelli Square in 2019, and a slightly blurry view toward Ghirardelli Square yesterday; must have been too much green beer.

The view from the starboard side of the ship in 2019, and the view from the starboard side now: Shed C of Pier 45, in the foreground of the older picture, burned down in May of 2020 in a fire that almost destroyed the Jeremiah O’Brien.


The unobstructed view of San Francisco from the bow of the ship at twilight in 2018, and the unobstructed view of San Francisco from the stern of the Jeremiah O’Brien now:

The silhouette of the Jeremiah O’Brien at Pier 45, taken from Pier 39 at sunset in October of 2019:

The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

The San Francisco Saint Patrick’s Day Parade will be happening this Saturday, March  11th.  With the extended tax season, I may be able to catch some of it this year, but it looks like rain. These are past Saint Patrick’s Day Parades in San Francisco. (Thumbnail images)


Civic Center Colleens on Larkin Street near McAllister in 1974. The State Building is in the background. (Vintage photo SF Chronicle / SF Gate)

Market Street at Grant Avenue in 1951: The Korean War was being fought during this time. (SF Chronicle / SF Gate)

Maiden Lane in 1948, my favorite San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade picture:

Saint Patrick driving the snakes away from Market Street at Powell in 1954: (SF Chronicle / SF Gate)


“Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling!” McAllister Street, looking back toward Larkin in the 1950s: The Asian Art Museum Building, the San Francisco Main Library Building then, is in the background. (San Francisco Public Library Archives)





Chinatown after dark

I took the new Central Subway back to Chinatown recently to stop in at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory before closing time at 7:00 PM. There’s something special about Chinatown after dark that’s almost as magical as Main Street in Disneyland at night. Later, I walked around Chinatown to update some old pictures and postcards of Chinatown at night. (Thumbnail images)

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory is in Ross Alley. Long ago, this alley was an extremely dangerous place to be in, complete with hatchet men and Tong wars. In the cookie factory, you bring your fortunes in and the lady there puts them in a freshly baked fortune cookie, molds it into shape, and puts the cookie in a pagoda decorated little box.

Grant Avenue near Clay Street during the 1950s; lit up in the vintage picture like ‘Neon Noodle’ in the old Daffy Duck cartoon, ‘The Great Piggy Bank Robbery’. (

Grant Avenue near California Street in a postcard from the 1960s:

The old Lipo Lounge, at Grant Avenue near Jackson Street, is back open again. You can see part of their neon sign in my picture. The Lipo has this circular and exotic looking entrance. (

The Dim Sum Building, across the street from Old St. Mary’s Church, all lit up in 1911:

Grant Avenue near Pacific Avenue during the 60s: Near Broadway, this used to be a favorite dining area in Chinatown at night, but it’s kind of quiet now.

Public art in San Francisco

Often when I’m “out in the field” looking for vintage picture or movie locations, I’ll spot examples of artistic expression that I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t looking for something else. (Thumbnail images)

An interesting reproduction (maybe) of an old 1904 painting on the wall of the men’s room in the Pier 23 Restaurant on the Embarcadero:

I’m not sure about this one on Clay Street in Chinatown. Picasso may have liked it, but the girl with her butt where her stomach should be makes me wonder if I really do know anything about art.

In front of the new Transbay Terminal on Mission Street, during the Holidays: You see, if you look at it from the other side, it says JOY. “Yes, Tim.”

It’s a tough job, and they’re recruiting them younger and younger nowadays. This painting was on Oak Street at Franklin a few years ago, but it’s gone now.

They even decorate some of the public toilets with a Downtown San Francisco map; a great place to get one’s bearings. Yeah, I wasn’t looking for art when I stopped here.

There’s also a place where you can create your own artistic expression; the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Ross Alley. Bring your own fortunes or prophesies, and they’ll put them in a freshly baked fortune cookie.

Street artists in Ross Alley getting ready for the 2023 Chinese New Year Parade that will run on Saturday, February 4th:

I guess façade lighting can be considered art, even if it’s for a lost cause. It was lively and exciting in San Francisco last Saturday night when I took this picture of City Hall, but quiet and lonely the following night.

Now we come to my kind of art. These are enlargements of old comic book covers in the window of the toy store at Maiden Lane.

“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

(Vintage photo from

(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.






A Profile with Pictures’

Around the time I fell in love with San Francisco during high school, I found a book in the school library called ‘San Francisco: A Profile with Pictures’ by Barnaby Conrad. Published in 1959, the book had already seemed outdated to me at the time, (although, that wasn’t that much earlier than my high school years) but I loved the photographs in the book. Conrad name-drops many famous people he was acquainted with throughout the book, from Herb Caen to John Steinbeck, although most of them I wasn’t familiar with at the time. Around seven years ago, I found a copy of the book at the used book store at the San Francisco Main Library. I’ve updated a number of the pictures from the book in the past, and I read it again, cover to cover, last week. (You can finish it in one day) Sadly, almost everyone he writes about is gone now, including the author, and it’s really a time capsule of a San Francisco that doesn’t exist anymore. Here are some of the pictures I’ve posted from the book in the past, and some of the comments I made about the photos. I’ll also list the photographers, which I may not have done in the past. I’ve included the almost archaic now guide map at the end of the book. (Thumbnail images)

That elegant lady in front of Fishermen’s Grotto #9 at Fisherman’s Wharf in the 1950’s had better get the service that she wants! The old Standard Station designed like a ship across the street remained in Fisherman’s Wharf from the 1930’s to the 1970’s, although, by the 70’s it had been remodeled to a more standard looking Standard Station. Sadly now, #9Fishermen’s Grotto is gone forever now, as well. (Jerome Zerbe)

The Baker Street steps at Broadway in the 1950’s, and a really stoic way to treat a broken leg: (Miriam Young)

Maiden Lane in the 1950’s: She knows she’s hot! That building on the right with the round entrance, is the only building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in San Francisco. (Tom King)

I’ve seen this Alfred Hitchcock movie, it’s scary! Actually, the little girl in the thick of it at Union Square in the 1950’s was a safe as the pigeons were! (Gene Wright)


Apartment hunting on Russian Hill in the 1950’s:
“Is this place for rent?”
“It is, fifty dollars a month.”
“Why, that’s ridiculous!”
“Take it or leave it.”
(Jacqueline Paul)

A student water-coloring at the Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon, under the supervision of Dong Kingman:

Fishing with a best friend behind the St. Francis Yacht Harbor: (Barnaby Conrad)


The double page guide map at the end of the book; let’s see what’s gone now, from west to east; Fleishhacker Pool, Kezar Stadium. Playland-at-the-Beach, the Cliff House, (closed) Mile Rock Lighthouse, the Produce District, SP Depot, and the Embarcadero Freeway hadn’t been built yet.

‘Hell on Frisco Bay’

I can forgive the “Frisco” in the title of the 1956 crime drama ‘Hell on Frisco Bay’ because it makes the film sound more dramatic. It’s only two and a half stars on the must-see list, but the movie is still fun to watch, and has interesting San Francisco locations. Alan Ladd looks old and tired, Joanne Dru is as pretty as she was in Red River’ and Eddy G. is….. Eddy G. Although, this has to be one of the most despicable characters Robinson has ever played.


Ladd plays a police officer released from prison after serving five years on a manslaughter charge he was framed for. Off the force now, he’s on a hunt to find the real killer. Like, we don’t know who it will turn out to be? Here, he follows a floozy, on the east side of Telegraph Hill at Vallejo St. at Hodges Alley, to a suspect played by a relatively unknown at the time, Rod Taylor.

There’s an interesting shot of a cable car at California and Powell Streets on Nob Hill. On the right is the old Crest Garage, demolished in 2018, and on the left is a liquor store where the Fairmont Hotel parking garage is now.

In the film’s denouement the real killer turns out to be Edward G. Robinson. Surprise!!! He takes Ladd’s wife, Joanne Dru, hostage, and tries to escape by boat on Al Scoma Way at the Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon. Behind Robinson and Dru you can see Pier 45, and the little chapel is where the gray building used to be.

As Ladd approaches, Dru breaks free and Eddy G. Jumps into a speed boat, followed by Ladd. The film crew placed the name AMATO on the building in the background. This was Robinson’s name in the film, and the building was his warehouse.

As Dru watches the police approach the alley from Jefferson Street, she tells them what’s happening. If you look close at the AMATO building, you can still see the checkerboard window on the warehouse behind the white truck.


In a fist fight as the boat races out of control around San Francisco Bay, they’re almost bisected by a tugboat, tanker, and naval vessel before Ladd knocks Robinson from the boat. Realizing he’s headed toward the second tower on the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge, he jumps free.


The boat crashes into the Bay Bridge tower, and Alan and Joanne reunite. In a similar view near the crash area today, you can still see the Hills Brothers Building, but no longer the Pacific Telephone Building, once the largest building south of Market Street.