A Tinted town

Welcome, 2020. Well, we’re getting farther and farther away from the Nineteenth Century! A couple of years ago a Facebook friend of mine posted a news item that said that the last know person born in the Nineteenth Century had died. The individual was 117 or so at the time. Gee, it’s sad to think of someone being cut down in the flower of youth like that! Anyway, these are updates I did on a collection of photographs in San Francisco from the website blogspot.com that were taken the second half of the Nineteenth Century. and color-tinted by Bennett Hall.

TintedFPointuseThe Golden Gate and Fort Point in the 1880s:

TintedTHilluseThe San Francisco waterfront beneath Telegraph Hill in 1885 before the Embarcadero Piers were built: Dynamite blasting of Telegraph Hill in the late Nineteenth Century, particularly by the brothers George and Harry Gray for their stone quarry, removed the natural slope of the eastern side of the hill before it was stopped early in the Twentieth Century. You can see the damage the Gray Brothers caused in my picture.

TintedMeiggsuseThe area that used to be called Meiggs Wharf but is today’s northern waterfront and Fisherman’s Wharf in the 1870s: Alcatraz Island, the Tiburon Peninsula, Angel Island and Sausalito can be seen in both pictures.

TintedMontgomeryuseMontgomery Street at Sutter looking south toward the old Palace Hotel in the late 1870s:

TintedEastStuseThe waterfront looking down from Telegraph Hill in 1865:

TintedVallejouseThe Vallejo Street Wharf looking toward Telegraph Hill in 1866: Much of this area has been filled in now.

TintedBroadwayCoveuseLooking down from Telegraph Hill toward Vallejo Street and Broadway, where most of the ships docked back in 1865:

TintedBroadwayuseThe wharf near Broadway, the opposite view of the previous photos, looking back toward Telegraph Hill: The picture is dated 1850, which would make it one of the oldest pictures or daguerreotypes of San Francisco known.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More mysteries and histories

For the past five or six weeks I’ve been reading old mysteries that I could order on the internet that were set in San Francisco. All of them have some wonderfully descriptive location passages in their stories, and I got a kick out of visiting the places the authors wrote about in their fictional stories so long ago and taking comparison pictures. It’s not a singular thing to do; (Sherlock Holmes used that word singular a lot, but I don’t think he ever made it to San Francisco) Don Herron has been taking people to Dashiell Hammett sites with his fine tours around San Francisco for years. Shadow me now while we prowl around San Francisco as the murderers, victims, heroes and heroines did many years ago. I’d like to point out that it would not have been possible to have had the fun that I had doing this post without the website opensfhistory.org where these vintage pictures are from. If you love exploring old San Francisco as I do, check out their site.

http://opensfhistory.org/

MysteryMonsteruseIn ‘Many a Monster’ written in 1948 by Robert Finnegan, Dan Banion is a newspaper reporter trying to prove the innocence of a fugitive from the police, hiding in San Francisco and wanted for the gruesome serial killings of four women.

MysteryMonster3rduseRead Banion’s dreary description of 3rd Street as he turns onto it from Market Street looking for clues.

{Third Street – commonly called Skid Row or Skid Road – was the street of down-and-outers, lined by pawnshops, junk stores, cheap saloons, and gaunt-looking hotels. Here and there a ragged drunk slept in a doorway with an empty bottle clutched to his breast. Prostitutes, fat and dowdy, thin and tuberculous, (I’m not sure that’s a word) wandered in and out of barrooms on crooked heels}

The vintage picture is 3rd Street between Mission and Howard Streets looking toward Market Street in 1952.

MysteryMonsterPeerlessuse{Farther up the street, Dan could see the neon sign of the Regent Theater projecting over the sidewalk.}

The ‘Regent Theater’ Dan’s searching for was probably the old Peerless Theater on 3rd near where Minna Alley comes into it, seen here in 1962. Part of Yerba Buena Gardens and the Center for the Arts now occupies the spot where the theater was. The ‘Ding Dong Dollies’; Gee, that must have been a good show!

MysteeryWifeuseIn ‘My Dead Wife’ (Is that a grabber title or what?) written in 1948 by William Worley, Frank Terrance who lives on the Telegraph Hill part of Kearny Street, (Curiously, the author spells it Kearney Street) is a depressed and lonely man in love with his unfaithful wife who has left him. His wife, Jessie, shows up at his apartment in the first chapter broke and obviously in some type of trouble. Torn between his feeling for her and aware that she doesn’t love him, he begins drawing back to her in spite of himself. Hey, we’ve all been there. The reunion doesn’t last long because while he’s in the kitchen mixing Jessie a drink she’s shot to death while sitting in his arm chair. Well, at least Frank had the sense enough to slam down the drink he made for Jessie when he saw her bleeding in the chair. After kneeling on the floor by her to make sure she’s dead, Frank panics fearing he may be blamed and quickly leaves his apartment.

MysteryWifeMandarinuse{I walked down to Columbus and turned into Grant Avenue. I walked at a steady, easy pace through Chinatown towards Market Street. I went past the wailing and whining of the Chinese theater, past the night clubs and their displays of Chinese fan dancers, past the bars and chop suey parlors, the joss houses, the entrances where tourists never go, past the glittering Chinese art stores and the stench of poultry and fish markets.}

That’s about the best description of a walk along Grant Avenue that I’ve ever read! The theater Frank passed on Grant Avenue was the old Mandarin Theater, now closed and empty. Orson Welles met up with Rita Hayworth in this theater after breaking out of the Hall of Justice, where she double-crosses him, in the 1947 film ‘The Lady from Shanghai’. The vintage picture is from 1934.

MysteryWifeGrantuseTerrance stops at his walk along Grant Avenue here at Grant and Geary Blvd. and goes into a cocktail lounge and begins to drink heavily until he notices the other customers staring at him with curious looks. He discovers that he has blood on his face and clothes from his murdered wife. The vintage picture is from 1957.

{I pulled up short. I was a block from Market Street, and I was staring into the window of a cocktail lounge. I looked at the tall, sardonic figure of a black crow advertising a brand of whiskey. From within came the hot and ribald beat of a jazz orchestra. One of those bars which befuddle customers with noise as well as liquor.}

MysterySleeveuse‘Murder Up My Sleeve’ was written in 1937 by Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason, although Perry Mason isn’t in this book. I liked this one the best; however, some readers might find it lacking in action. Much of the dialogue between the characters is surprisingly contemporary, and I developed a crush on Cynthia Renton right from the first page she appears in. Our hero is Terry Clane who is often referred in the book as an “adventurer”. Clane is summoned to the District Attorney’s office in the opening of the book because a blackmailer named Jacob Mandra has been murdered with a “sleeve gun”. A sleeve gun is a weapon that can be hidden in the sleeve and fires a deadly dart that can be launched by pressing your arm against a solid object, such as a desk. Terry Clane owns such a weapon.

MysterySleeve1Powelluse The District Attorney tries to intimidate Clane by reading to him from a dossier his office has collected on our “adventurer”, including this information.

{Keeps a balance of something less than a thousand dollars in the main branch of the Bank of America at Number One Powell Street, but seems to be free from financial worries. Has a host of Chinese friends in the local district. At night sometimes goes to Chinatown, enters stores, disappears through back doors, and upon such occasions fails to return to his apartment until shortly before dawn.}

Sounds pretty normal to me. The Bank of America at Number One Powell Street is seen here in 1925 when it was the Bank of Italy. Founded by Amadeo Peter Giannini, the Bank of Italy became the Bank of America in the 1920’s and was the largest bank in the world for over 50 years. Giannini made the bank the enormous giant it became in the financial world by the simple but profitable idea that people would have to borrow money to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, while many other banks were hesitant to lend to people whose fortunes were wiped out by the disaster. Today, Number One Powell is an AT&T store.

MysterySleeveSTunneluse Clane travels through the Stockton Tunnel to Chinatown to visit Chu Kee who lives on Stockton Street. Chu Kee’s daughter, Sou Ha, knew Jacob Mandra and was one of the last people to see him alive. Clanes’s encounter with Chu Kee and Sou Ha has an atmosphere of danger that reminded me of when Bette Davis goes to meet mysterious Gale Sondergaard to purchase a letter that will incriminate her in the murder of her lover in the 1940 film ‘The Letter’. Clane describes coming out of the north end of the Stockton Tunnel and entering Chinatown.

{Where San Francisco’s Stockton Street emerges from the north side of the tunnel, it becomes as much a part of China as though it were directly under the domination of the Dragon.}

The view north looking down from the Stockton Tunnel in the vintage picture was taken in 1948.

MysterySleeveCTownuseLater on Clane drives along Grant Avenue in Chinatown at night with Sou Ha.

{Ahead of them lay the weird intermarriage of the Occident and the Orient, which is San Francisco’s Chinatown. Neon lights blazoned Chinese characters in a crimson glare which turned the overhanging fog bank into wine. Plate glass show windows, brilliantly lighted with electricity, displayed delicate embroideries which had been sewed by the flickering flames of peanut oil-lamps.}

It didn’t look much different when I walked along Grant Avenue on a pretty night last Thursday. The vintage picture from the 1950s and mine are looking toward Clay Street from near Commercial Street.

MysteriesSirenuse‘Siren in the Night’ written in 1942 by Leslie Ford received the best reviews of the books I read, but I found it really slow in parts. It concerns a murder committed during a blackout and siren warning alerting San Franciscans of a possible air raid that was common in the city in 1942. In one chapter the heroine, lady detective Grace Latham, walks down Nob Hill with a Colonel John Primrose from the Mark Hopkins Hotel to Jack’s Restaurant on Sacramento near Montgomery Streets. Written in first person, Detective Latham describes the San Francisco sites as they walk along.

MysterySirenCCaruse{We walked down California Street. The cable cars clanging up the hill were jammed with people sticking on like caviar on a forty –five degree oblong of toast.}

They used to pack people on cable cars like that long ago, but for safety reasons it isn’t allowed anymore. The vintage picture was taken in 1950.

MysterySirenStMaryuse{The clock on the square dark tower of St. Mary’s was striking seven. The gold inscription above it – “Son Behold the Time and Fly From Evil” – was glistening in the low shafts of sunlight through the Square across the street.}

The Ecclesiasticus proverb actually reads, “Son, Observe the Time and Fly From Evil”; I don’t know if Leslie Ford misquoted it or if that was how it was written on the tower in 1942, but it’s good advice and I always abide by it…… except when I don’t. The “Square across the street” is St. Mary’s Square.

MysterySunyetuse{The sun shone too on the stainless steel robe of Sun Yat-sen , his rose marble face , benign and placid, gazing out over the green Square.}

Beniamino Bufano’s statue of Sun Yat-sen is still in St Mary’s Square and was visited by Madame Chaing Kai-shek during World War Two. The vintage picture of the statue is from 1956.

MysterySirenCTownuse{We turned the corner where the five-tiered pagoda towers stand, green and yellow faded to chartreuse.}

The pagoda towers are the two buildings on the north and south west corners of Grant Avenue and California Street. I suppose they’re still chartreuse in color now, once I figure out what that color looks like. Latham and Primrose came down California Street here and turned north onto Grant Avenue. The Mark Hopkins Hotel is at the top of the hill in both pictures. The vintage picture was taken in 1962.

MysterySirenSacramentouse{We turned down Sacramento Street through the crowded section where Chinatown streams across it into the deserted stretch toward Montgomery Street. There was a parking lot on either side of the restaurant we were going to.}

This is where they came down Sacramento Street. The restaurant isn’t named in the book, but it would have to have been Jack’s, seen on the left in the vintage picture from 1938. Jack’s closed in 2009.

MysteryCompanyuse‘Murder Loves Company’ is a long out of print book written in 1940 by John Mersereau. It takes place during the second year of the Golden Gate International Fair on Treasure Island. Although, corny at times, it’s page-packed with descriptions of many of the fair’s attractions and the best first-hand account of the world’s fair you’ll get in a book of fiction.

{Professor of horticulture James Yeats Biddle is more comfortable with his tomato plants than with dead bodies – or pretty young woman. But when one pretty young woman, reporter Kay Ritchie, hitches a ride in his aged but cherished sports car, Xantippe, he suddenly finds himself very much involved with both.}

MysteryCompanyBBridgeuseThe book opens up with a deadly accident just east of the Yerba Buena Tunnel that nearly involves Professor Biddle and a lady reporter named Kay Ritchie as they exit the tunnel while driving across the Bay Bridge to Berkeley.

{Xantippe emerged from the tunnel and shot out into the long cantilevered span, the reigning marvel of the modern world. The oncoming sedan passed inches to their left and with a rending impact, almost head on, struck the raised ramp. The car seemed to stop entirely for an instant against the massive railing of the bridge. The doors popped open. The roaring motor died convulsively. In slow motion, it seemed, the sedan rolled over and over, twice. In the roadway lay two bodies.}

The vintage picture is approaching the cantilever section of the Bay Bridge as you exited the tunnel in 1936 before the bridge opened. My picture is the view of the rebuilt east portion of the Bay Bridge today as you head east after leaving the Yerba Buena Tunnel.

MysteryDArtuseLater on in a visit to the fair, the book describes the Treasure Island attraction this way as Professor Biddle takes a ferryboat to the fair

{And what an island! Its cream and golden towers reared above the salt waves. It was an Aladdin’s palace, incredible beyond human dreams, an Atlantis reversed, a gleaming city that overnight rose out of the sea.}

There are only three surviving structures built for the fair, the Administration Building, a building that houses airplane hangars for the old China Clipper Airplanes, and the Decorative Arts Building seen in the vintage picture in 1940.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Race Street’ – Who were the Dons?

Real dedicated football fans may know the answer to that, but I had to do some checking. More on this later. I really enjoy finding a film noir movie I’ve never seen with great San Francisco on location scenes. ‘Race Street’ from 1948 isn’t any movie masterpiece, I give it two and a half stars, but for terrific location shooting in the City it’s tops. The movie is about a mob syndicate extorting protection money from San Francisco business owners. When they tangle with George Raft’s bookie business they have a problem. It’s not the best DVD restoration and some of the movie scenes are grainy captures, but you can see the locations okay.

RaceRaftuseThe film stars George Raft. Raft originally made it on the map with his coin flipping gangster scenes in the 1932 movie ‘Scarface’ with Paul Muni. Check out Bugs Bunny’s George Raft impersonation on the link below.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?hsimp=yhs-att_001&hspart=att&p=bugs+bunny+Edward+G+Robinson+curtains+YouTube#id=1&vid=bbf03b0318f41dea70c6eb57932c5b5b&action=click

Race Maxwell useRaft’s girlfriend is Marilyn Maxwell, who helped introduce the song ‘Silver Bells’ with Bob Hope in ‘The Lemon Drop Kid’ from 1951.

Race MorganuseThe film also co-stars Harry Morgan, probably most famous as Colonel Potter in the television show ‘M*A*S*H’.

RaceBendixuseBut to me the star of the movie is the character actor William Bendix. I like him in everything he was in. His best role was probably Gus in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1944 film ‘Lifeboat’. “Give us a kiss, toots.” Gus says to Tallulah Bankhead as she’s about to assist in amputating his leg. (She does) Bendix plays a nice guy cop trying to keep Raft out of trouble.

RaceopenuseRaceopen2useRaceopen3useThe movie shows a panoramic sweep of San Francisco from Twin Peaks behind the opening credits.

RaceTPeaksuseThe view from Twin Peaks now:

RaceTopMark1useThe movie opens up with a 1948 view from the Top of the Mark.

RaceEddyuseThe story starts out showing a number of San Francisco locations. This is the cable car turnaround at Powell and Market Streets looking toward Eddy Street. The building with the Gray’s Suits advertisement was demolished and Eddy no longer cuts through to Market Street. This is where Hallidie Plaza is now. You can see the old JC Penny’s Store building on the corner of 5th and Market Streets in both pictures.

RaceMontgomeryuseThis is Montgomery Street at Market Street looking north.

RacePostuse The action starts with a customer going into the clothes store front for Raft’s bookie business on Post Street across from Union Square. The building the clothes store was in was demolished in the 1980s and is now where the Saks Fifth Avenue Building is.

Racecourt1useRacecourt2useRaft’s squeeze, Marilyn Maxwell, lives in the Stanford Court Building on Nob Hill on California Street. Here, they’re leaving the courtyard, still there but not as fancy.

RaceStanforduseThey merge onto California Street across from the Fairmont Hotel.

RaceCalifPowelluseThey cross Powell Street at California Street, the only place where the three remaining cable car lines cross each other.

RaceCrestuseThe two head down California Street past the old Crest Garage, demolished in 2018.

RaceCrest2useThe view down California Street from here now:

RaceJonesuseRaft lives on Nob Hill as well at an apartment building on the southwest corner of Jones and California Streets. The tall building in the far background is the old Empire Hotel Building in the Civic Center area. You can just barely see it through the rainy mist in my picture.

RaceRaftsaptuseHe drives down the west side of Nob Hill and turns into his parking garage.

RaceRaftAptuseI’ll have to ask my arborist friend, Tony, if that could possibly be the same hedge that was growing there in 1948. He’ll probably think that’s a ridiculous question, but I have vines growing in the back yard of my house that go back to the 1960s.

RaceCHouseuseRaceSRocksuseThe movie even takes a trip out to the Cliff House where Raft has lunch with his sister who is worried about his prospects for bucking the mob. Seal Rocks are in the background of the lunch scene.

Racemob1useRacemobuseI’ll close with a few of the scenes filmed at night. Refusing to be intimidated by the mob, Raft is intercepted by one of “the boys” going into his apartment. I’ll bet he has a gun in his pocket! I’m bright about things like that.

RaftrideuseRaft gets taken for the proverbial “ride”. It’s never a good sign when one of the hoods gets in the back seat with you and not in the empty front seat.

RaftblindfolduseMr. Big, played by Frank Faylen, tells Raft he had better get in line. This would certainly persuade me! Raft plays along with him to bide time, although they rough him up pretty good.

GGateredouseIn one scene, Bendix tries to talk Raft out of taking the mob on without involving the police as they cross Market Street from 6th Street toward the Golden Gate Theater, at that time owned by Howard Hughes’ RKO Movie Studio.

Taylorredo

Raft and Bendix cross Taylor Street toward Golden Gate Avenue. The newspaper box next to them is advertising a football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dons. These were the Los Angeles Dons, a pro football team that existed from 1946 until 1949. Looking close, it looks like the game was played on a Sunday with a two number day in the date; I can’t make it out on my DVD. The movie ‘Race Street’ was released on June 22nd 1948 before football season, so the football game had to have been played during a season prior to 1948. The only games the 49ers played the Dons at Kezar before 1948 were September 7th in 1947 and December 8th in 1946, unless it was an exhibition game. I wonder if it was just a movie prop, which doesn’t seem likely. The newspaper box would have been near where the walk signal is on this side of Taylor Street in front of the Golden Gate Theater.

RacecloseuseThe movie ends back where it began at the Top of the Mark for a nighttime view of the City, and closes out overlooking the Embarcadero and the Bay Bridge. The closing music even plays a little of ‘San Francisco’ from the 1936 movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures I’d like to redo

Some of my pictures here may be slightly outdated now and some would just be fun to redo, but these are on my list of comparison pictures I’d like to do again.

RedoBBridgeTManuseNick and Nora Charles getting pulled over on the Bay Bridge while they were heading east to the Golden Gate Fields in Albany in the 1941 film ‘The Shadow of the Thin Man’. A lot of new buildings have sprung up in SOMA since I took this picture about 7 years ago.

RedoBBlanketuseI should redo this one I did in 2013 in honor of the closing at the end of this year after running for over 45 years of the San Francisco musical ‘Beach Blanket Babylon’.

RedoNoeuseI’d like to redo this 1920’s photo from the Image of America Series taken at the top of Duncan Street in Noe Valley just to go there again.

RedoMarketStreetuseMarket Street at Powell Street in the 70s: Ah, if only the vintage F Line streetcar behind the number 7 Muni bus would have been the one in the lead!

RedoTIslanduseI was leaving Treasure Island with friends in October of 2014 when this view of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge being dismantled reminded me of a fuzzy picture had in my computer of the bridge being built from this angle. I snapped a quick picture as we passed. I’d like to redo it, but never will.

Redo3rduseLooking south toward the old Southern Pacific Train Depot and the Lefty O’Doul Bridge from Brannan Street in the 1940’s: I’ll have to borrow someone’s crane if I’m going to get this one accurate in a redo.

RedoBBridgeopenuseThe opening of the Bay Bridge in November of 1936: As I mentioned in the opening picture to this post, a lot of new buildings have sprung up in the background since I took this picture in January of 2015.

RedoExAlcatrazuseThe old Montgomery Barracks in a scene from an odd 1950 film called ‘Experiment Alcatraz: Here, prisoners from Alcatraz Prison are being transported by the army to a location in the Presidio to participate in a medical experiment that may earn them their freedom. To me, the star of these pictures is my old truck that still runs. This area is all grass now, and more visitor friendly than when I took the original picture.

RedoGreeduseI should probably redo this one on a regular basis to see if this building on the corner of Hayes and Laguna Street continues to survive. This was where the dental office of John McTeague was located in the 1924 film ‘Greed’, a movie that is considered one of the greatest films of all time.

RedoTHilluseAlmost a perfect matchup, except that I’m 210 feet higher than from where the vintage postcard was taken: I’ll redo it from the Coit Tower parking lot instead of at the top of the tower after they cut back all of those trees blocking most of the view from the parking lot nowadays.

RedoDannyuseBuffalo Bill at the Cliff House: I’d give anything to redo this one if my best friend could be in it again.

OrangeFBuildingThe Ferry Building on Halloween, 2010: No, that orange wasn’t for Halloween, the Giants were just about to win their first World Series in San Francisco. I’ll redo it again the next time they win the World Series.

SFRStocktonuseRedoUSquareeastuseLast February I mentioned that someday I’d like to redo the top then and now picture I posted of the east entrance to the Union Square Garage taken during the 1940s. The source of the vintage picture was the Facebook page San Francisco Remembered. The Stockton Street construction on the Muni Metro extension to Chinatown made for a poor comparison picture back then. They’ve finished this portion of the new rail line and I was able to get a better then and now picture in between rain showers today. Back in the 40s Union Square had four entrances and exits; north, south, east and west. Today, there’s only the north and south drive-through on Post Street and Geary Blvd.

 

 

Getting ready for Christmas 2019 around Union Square

They’re putting on the finishing touches, like tinsel on the Christmas tree, around Union Square for the holiday decorating, but it’s still pretty quiet because of the rainy weather. I had a couple of good days without rain this week to go around and take some pictures.

CMasGrantuseWith lower Stockton Street open again after so many years they’re not about to close it again, so they moved the street mall to Grant Avenue between Geary Blvd. and Post Street, and Maiden Lane. The vintage picture here on Grant Avenue is from 1960. (Source, opensfhistory.org)

CMas2016StocktonuseThe pedestrian mall used to run along Stockton Street from Market Street to Geary Blvd for years. This picture of mine was taken in 2016 between O’Farrell Street and Geary looking toward the old Macy’s clock. The vintage picture is from the 1940’s.

CMasMLaneuseThere were a lot of Maidens in Maiden Lane in this picture from 1949. (opensfhistory.org)

CMas2019MagninsuseThe southeast corner of Stockton Street and Geary Blvd. in 1958, looking toward the old I Magnin Department Store: The vintage picture was taken near the entrance of the much loved City of Paris Department Store. (opensfhistory.org)

CMas2018CParisuseThe City of Paris seen from Union Square in the 1940s: Forsaking a rally to save the old landmark building, it was demolished in 1979. The Neiman Marcus Department Store is there today. (SF Chronicle)

CMas2019roofuseNeiman Marcus had the class to save the painted glass ceiling from the rotunda of the City of Paris, and you can step back in time for a minute when you go up to look at it. (SF Chronicle)

CMas2019StocktonGearyuseThe northwest corner of Geary Blvd. and Stockton Street looking toward Union Square during the 1950s: (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

CMasStocktonuseI’ve been waiting for awhile for them to clear the construction off Stockton Street from the MUNI expansion to Chinatown so I could get a comparison picture of this Charles Cushman Collection, looking past Maiden Lane toward Post Street in the 1950s.

CMasUSquareuseThe north entrance to the Union Square Parking Garage on Post Street in 1967: The vintage picture is a nice time capsule. (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

CMas2019PostPowelluseA gloomy 1987 picture along Post Street from Powell Street in 1987: San Francisco has had days like the older picture a lot recently, but yesterday was a little nicer. (San Francisco Pictures Blog, Rob Weststrate)

redoThe Ferry Building and the Ferry Building: The bottom picture is a gingerbread Ferry Building on display this season in the lobby of the Ferry Building

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter weather at the Wharf

I know, winter is still three weeks away, and anyway I took these pictures the last week of November. Also, the aftcast of the weather conditions when I took most of these pictures, (I wonder if I made that word up) was sunny although chilly, which is more in line with fall. After I took my pictures, real winter weather did slam in hard by the end of November. Anyway, when I was 15 I fell in love with San Francisco, and the first two places I came to know well were Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf. They were both places of adventure at that age. At Fisherman’s Wharf my buddies and I would sometimes sit by the Bay smoking cigarettes we’d swiped from our parents, and watch ships coming in and going out of the Bay, from and to faraway places we said we’d visit someday and haven’t yet. I sometimes still get that long-ago feeling walking around Fisherman’s Wharf that I did when I was 15.

WharfTaylorJeffuseJefferson and Taylor Streets looking north, probably the most recognizable view of Fisherman’s Wharf and one of the most photographed intersections in the city: The vintage picture is from 1953. (San Francisco Pictures blog)

WharfTaylorNPointuseOne block south of the previous picture on Taylor Street in 1956: Somebody didn’t take very good care of this old picture.

WharfTaylorsouthuseLooking southwest along Taylor Street from Jefferson in 1963: The Z backwards K Gallery is where the old Sea Captain’s Gift Shop used to be. Personally, I think Fisherman’s Wharf lost a little of its atmosphere when that gift shop went out of business. (San Francisco Pictures blog)

WharfShedBusePier 45, Shed B at Fisherman’s Wharf in 1932: Those baskets on the pier in my picture are crab nets being stored on Pier 45 until crab season opens.

“Yea, ho, little fish, don’t cry, don’t cry.”

The vintage picture reminds me of the 1937 movie ‘Captains Courageous’. The guy with the cap on the right could be Spencer Tracy and the kid could be Freddie Bartholomew, except they were on a bigger boat in the movie. (The Fisherman’s Wharf Merchants Association)

WharfLagoonuseThe Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon in 1955: Now, you see, here’s the way my mind works; the vintage picture doesn’t say anything about who the three gentlemen on the left were, but I see three plain clothes cops investigating a crime scene. It could have been. Somewhere underneath all those crab nets in my picture are a fleet of fishing boats. (Opensfhistory.org)

WharfTaylor1930suseThe end of Taylor Street north of Jefferson in the 1930s: I had a better line up with the old picture here on Taylor Street, but then a line of vintage cars past by and I took this picture. I like the two sea gulls on either side of the procession watching the vintage autos pass; a couple of car buffs. (Opensfhistory.org)

WharfAlcatrazuseThe best views from land in San Francisco of Alcatraz Island are from Fisherman’s Wharf, seen in both these pictures from the very end of Pier 45. The vintage picture was taken in 1935. Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly were on the island when the old picture was taken. The ferryboat was leaving from the Hyde Street Pier for Berkeley. . (Opensfhistory.org)

WharfCCaruseThree blocks south of Fisherman’s Wharf is the cable car turnaround at Bay and Taylor Streets, seen in 1964. It used to take only one person to push the car off the turntable back then. (San Francisco Pictures blog)

Wharfunsafe1useWharfunsafe2useAlthough there’s no geographical boundary I know of, the general rule is that the western side of Fisherman’s Wharf ends at the Hyde Street Pier. I wasn’t really going any further in this direction anyway. Still, I figured that I’d just shoot through the fence and tell people who worry about me that I ignored the sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Dead Center’ (For the folks I met on the Filbert Steps at the old Shadows)

Dustjackets.com{The building at 706 Montgomery Street in San Francisco was a perfect setting for a murder. I had, in fact, thought so for a long time before anybody got killed in it.}

And so, Janet Keith opens up the narrative of Mary Collins double-murder, almost quadruple-murder mystery, ‘Dead Center’. It’s a nifty whodunit , written in 1942 and set in San Francisco, that mentions many locations in the city. Some are made up but most of them are accurate; a lot of them are gone now. I’ll concentrate on the spots no longer around. (Cover image from Dustjackets.com)

FlickrMost of the story takes place at the 706 Montgomery Street building mentioned that houses artists and writers as tenants. The inside cover of the paperback has a drawing of the building and the floor where the tenants live and work. This Flickr image of the drawing is in better shape than the one in the old paperback I bought. Janet Keith, a socialite who lives in Pacific Heights and rents a room in the Montgomery Building to become a writer, narrates the book and identifies the year the story takes place on page 180.

{Then I had my thought for 1941. One each year is my motto.}

DeadsuspectsuseA prelude to the story is a list of the people staying at 706 Montgomery Street when the first brutal murder is committed.  One of them is guilty.

DeadBCatuse706 Montgomery is a fictitious address that sounds like another historic building you’ll see in the next photo. Today 706 Montgomery Street would have been in the building on the northeast corner of Montgomery and Washington Streets next to where the old Black Cat Café used to be. (Vintage photo from the Thomas Reynolds Gallery)

DeadMBlockuseWhen you think of an old building on Montgomery Street that was a haven for artists and writers and you know your San Francisco history, you’ll think of the Montgomery Block, the “Monkey Block”. This is probably where Mary Collins got the idea for her 706 Montgomery Street setting. Janet Keith makes a reference to the old building.

{The Red Rat is a dingy little saloon which serves as a sort of club for the tenants of 706, the Montgomery Block, and other old buildings occupied by San Francisco’s so-called Bohemians.}

The Montgomery Block was built in 1863 and frequented by the likes of Bret Harte, Rudyard Kipling, Lotta Crabtree, Lola Montez, Jack London and Mark Twain. It survived the 1906 Earthquake and Fire and was demolished in 1958. The Transamerica Pyramid Building occupies the spot today. (San Francisco Pictures / Library of Congress)

DeadHallJusticeuseAfter inadvertently leading the police to a second murder, Janet is arrested by the police as a suspect and taken down to the old Hall of Justice Building on Kearny Street across from Portsmouth Square. She’s kept there throughout the night and released in the morning.

{Down in front of the Hall of Justice I debated about going straight home in a cab or picking up my car. I signaled a cab and told the driver to take me to 706 Montgomery.}

706 Montgomery couldn’t have been more than two blocks from the Hall of Justice, but I guess if Janet stood up under police interrogation all night she can be forgiven for taking a cab instead of walking. The old Hall of Justice, built in 1910, was demolished in 1968. A Hilton Hotel is there today. (opensfhistory.org)

DeadBalustradeuseFearing for Janet’s life with the murderer at large, Janet’s father hires a bodyguard named Spike to follow and protect her. They become friends and Janet is always able to talk Spike into going along with her schemes, like breaking and entry, as she tries to solve the murders without the help of the police. One evening Janet and her bodyguard park at the top of Telegraph Hill and go down to Montgomery Street in an attempt to break into the house where the related murder victims lived to look for clues.

{We left the cab at the top of Telegraph Hill and then walked down on the left-hand side of Montgomery Street looking at the numbers. There was a big modern apartment house and then a lot of small houses perched around the steep hill with trees and gardens and brick paths in between.}

It’s not an accurate description, and they could have been heading toward either the Greenwich Steps or down the Filbert Steps. They’re discouraged from breaking into the house by a policeman posted on duty to watch the house where the two victims lived, so they head back to the top of Telegraph Hill.

{The mud was well up around my ankles and my new navy blue pumps were completely ruined for all time before we got up to the balustrade that goes around the top of Telegraph Hill near Coit Tower. We sat on the wide stone coping to get our breath, and I wondered if wet stone was bad for mink.}

Here’s a picture taken in the 1930s of the old balustrade that went around the top of Telegraph Hill back then. It was considered unsightly and removed during the 1940s.

DeadShadowsmenuuseJanet and Spike decide to go back to the house and break in through the back way avoiding the policeman in the front. Janet can be as clumsy as she is cunning and she drops a drawer making a racket and alerting the cop guarding the house. Janet bolts out the back door hoping to lead the policeman away from Spike and they become separated. Tired and scared she looks for a place on Telegraph Hill to meet up with Spike.

{However, as I was very tired from scrambling in the mud and crouching in the mildewed shower, I was happy to see that the lights were burning cheerfully in the Tavern, which is a very arty little pub. I walked up the steps leading to the Tavern and went inside where the fire looked very welcoming and warm.}

The only Tavern Janet could have been referring to in the area was the old Shadows Restaurant on Montgomery Street. The above drawing of the Shadows is about the best menu cover I’ve ever seen. (Vintagemenuart.com)

DeadShadowsuseHere’s a picture during the 1950s of the old Shadows Restaurant, now closed and empty. (Flickr)

DeadFcitymenuuse

Even the legendary nightclub, the Forbidden City, gets an honorable mention when Janet has an argument with her brother, Hallet.

{“None of your business, but I’m going to see my girl” he said.

“What’s she do?” I said, speaking fast before he could get away from me.

“She works in a nightclub.”

“Which one?”

“The Forbidden City.” He said.

My eyes bulged so far out of my head I could feel them hanging on my cheeks. The Forbidden City is the only all-Chinese nightclub in the world or something.}

Above is an old Forbidden City program and menu. (eatdrinksfilm.com)

 

DeadFCityuseThe Forbidden City was up in the second floor of this building on Sutter Street.

Jack'smenueuseJanet, Fitzgerald, and Spike have lunch at Jack’s Restaurant on Sacramento Street near Montgomery.

{Jack’s is one of San Francisco’s finest restaurants, but no one from the East would think so just to look at it. It is housed in a rather grimy, three-story building, the two top floors being devoted to private dining rooms. The restaurant proper on the first floor sports the usual San Francisco beige walls interspersed with brightly varnished mahogany woodwork. Is epicurean and the service effortless.}

The top photo is an old 1947 menu from Jacks Restaurant. (Pinterest)

DeadJack'suseFor many years, Jack’s Restaurant, the second oldest and one of the finest restaurants in San Francisco was in this building. The restaurant closed in 2009.