Another trip to the coast on MLK Day

I haven’t been able to take the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday off very often since I took over my dad’s income tax practice 25 years ago after he died. The holiday usually falls on what is a busy day preparing tax forms. However, since the Internal Revenue Service has once again postponed the inevitable for the fourth or fifth year in a row and won’t process any tax returns until near the end of January, I decided to take the day off yesterday and head to the Coast; the west coast of San Francisco. A trip to the coast may conger up images of the Lewis and Clark Expedition or the Joad family in ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ but when traffic is light, like on holidays, I can get to the San Francisco coast from the office in less than an hour.

coastsutro'suseWe’ll start where I did looking south along the west coast of San Francisco from Sutro Heights. This is one of the oldest pictures from this viewpoint that I’ve seen. I couldn’t get a date on the vintage photo, but it was taken before Playland-at-the-Beach, and the Golden Gate Park Windmills, the Dutch Windmill, built in 1903, and the Murphy Windmill, completed in 1908, haven’t been put up yet. (Bold Italic)

coastchouseuseWe’ll walk down to the Cliff House from the Sutro park. Walking down to the Cliff House from here is easy, walking back to Sutro Heights, well….. This is a 1920’s picture looking down Point Lobos Road to the famous restaurant. The CIGARS shop with the ‘R’ missing was where the glass entrance to the Cliff House is now. (

coastvictorsuseThe cigar store in the previous vintage photo was updated later in the 1920’s to selling hot dogs, probably a more profitable enterprise considering the location. (The Shorpy Archive)

coastwavesuse There were “Dangerous Waves” warnings all along Ocean Beach yesterday, and a number of beach locations were closed. My picture was taken from right behind the Cliff House.

coastchouserocksuseThe view along the coast south of the Cliff House in 1865: You can see the two peaks in the ridge that runs down to the beach from here in both pictures.

coastplobosuseThe view down Point Lobos Road looking toward Playland-at-the-Beach during the 1940’s:

coastplayland1usecoastplayland2usePlayland in 1949 and all that’s left of Playland-at-the-Beach today, the historical marker: (SF Gate, SF Chronicle)

coastplandnorthuseThe northern most portion of Playland shortly before it closed in 1972. My picture is just about where the vintage photo was taken. (SF Gate, SF Chronicle)

coastcarvilleuseThere’s some interesting San Francisco history you can read about just south of Golden Gate Park on La Playa between Irving and Judah Streets. At the beginning of the Twentieth Century some discarded horse drawn streetcars were being sold to families who moved them out to this location and renovated them to live in. The area became known as ‘Carville’. The eastern side of La Playa, here in my picture, is where Carville was. (

GE DIGITAL CAMERAI think that the only known survivor of Carville is in the center top of my picture on the Great Highway between Lawton and Moraga Streets. Those are two old streetcars side by side in the frame of that building behind the garage.

coast48thuseYou know, it’s always sad to see old time “moms and pops” grocery stores like this one from the 1950’s on 48th Avenue gone from this area forever. Oh, wait a minute, it’s still there! Never mind. (Images of America)

coastpooluseBathing cuties in front of the pool house at Fleishhacker Pool in 1927: All that’s left of the swimming pool today is the entrance to the pool house that the girls were in front of. They were about where the cars parked on the right are in my picture. (Shorpy Archive)

coastpoolhouseuseThe pool, built in 1924, closed in 1971, when the vintage picture here was taken, and was filled in. It’s now beneath the parking lot to the San Francisco Zoo. I took my picture of the pool house in September of 2012, just before it burned down in a fire caused by homeless people living in the abandoned building.




Traveling around vintage San Francisco

I suppose I could fall into the category of a pseudo-dilettante. I was watching an old television show recently where a client who’s hiring Peter Gunn to find somebody who ripped him off, refers to the suspect as a “dilettante”. I looked the word up to see if it meant what I thought it did, which is a pseudo-intellect’s way of saying one isn’t sure of the meaning. The dictionary reads a dilettante is a person who takes up an art, activity or subject merely for amusement especially in a desultory way; a dabbler. That could be me pertaining to my picture taking. I wasn’t sure about desultory being accurate, so I looked that up too. The dictionary reads that desultory is lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm. No, that doesn’t fit. My enthusiasm is a driving force when I’m tracking down picture locations, and my purpose is to enjoy myself. So, I looked up pseudo, which came to my mind, to see if I qualify for that slander. (This is all going somewhere, isn’t it?) Pseudo is being apparently rather than actual.  This brings me back to my opening. Today’s entry is a collection of vintage driving and parking pictures around San Francisco, posted by a possible pseudo-dilettante.

dandpmasonuseWe’ll start out on Mason Street next to the Mark Hopkins Hotel in the 1950’s. Parking here doesn’t look like an option in the 1950’s, but I see a couple of spots today that had better be grabbed quickly. (

dandpfbuildinguse Parking doesn’t look good here at all on Commercial Street near the Ferry Building in the 1950’s, and it’s impossible today; Commercial Street stops at Battery Street now because of the Embarcadero Center. Commercial was one of only two streets in San Francisco that ran straight to the Ferry Building, the other being Market Street. (The Cushman Collection)

dandpchouseuseParking in front of the Cliff House is “catch as catch can” as well, especially on holidays. The vintage picture is from the late 1950’s when the Cliff House was dressed in red. You can see the Sky Tram Cable Ride that ran through the 1950’s and into the 1960’s at the lower left of the vintage photo. (Flickr)

dandpusquareuseUnion Square in the 1960’s: You can drive around there for hours today, and probably back then too, looking for parking if the Union Square Garage is full.

dandpsutteruseOf course, if you get tired of driving around looking for parking, you can always take the bus like these people here are doing at the corner of Montgomery and Sutter Streets in the 1950’s. The two old buildings with the fire escapes on the right are still there. (Vintage Everyday)

octcolgreenuseGreen Street, where it meets Columbus Avenue and Stockton Street in the 1940’s: I took my picture while passing by from a bus on the Number 30 Muni Line coming back from Fisherman’s Wharf last October.

danpcstickuseCandlestick Park and its parking lot in the early 1960’s before it was enclosed to accommodate the 49ers in the 1970’s: My picture is looking across the parking lot toward an empty and lonely Candlestick Park in October of 2014 just before it was demolished. I went out there one last time to say good bye to a place filled with wonderful memories for me going back to childhood; memories of my family, especially my parents, and my friends, and all the wonderful times we had there. I felt as lonely as Candlestick Park on that last visit. (

langtonredouseLangton Street near Folsom in the 1970’s: It looks like they give you an extra minute on that Wednesday parking nowadays. That’s the old Empire Hotel Building in the background of the 70’s picture. “ATTENTION VANDALS – IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SHOT STAY AWAY FROM THIS STREET” Well, it appears like there may have been another case of “frontier justice” today in my picture. Another building has been put up next to the wall where they used to shoot vandals. (Janet Delaney)

dandp4thuseMarket Street at Stockton Street in the 1960’s: I got a “in the right place at the right time” on this one; those two old streetcars are almost identical! (Charles Cushman Collection)






Winter weather

“Spring has sprung,

Fall has fell.

Winter is here,

and it’s cold as Hell!”

We thought that was funny when we were kids, even though it doesn’t make sense; if you go by the weather reports, Hell isn’t supposed to be cold! However, San Francisco has been for the past two weeks.

2019califstuseLooking down California Street from Powell in the 1960’s: I would rather to have gotten a cable car coming up instead of heading down, but you can’t stand in this spot too long without getting honked at or worse!

2019califcutieuseAlthough, that didn’t seem to bother this cutie an awful lot!

2019sacmaybeSacramento Street looking down from Powell Street: It’s a long way from the spring of 1983 to January 5th 2019 when I took these two pictures.

skygrantsacuseskysacgrantuseTwo images of Grant Avenue at Sacramento Street in 1968: These were taken last week toward the end of December. It was still sunny out, but you needed a jacket. Old St. Mary’s Church is on the left side of Grant Avenue in the four pictures. (

skycommercialuseA little further north on Grant Avenue at Commercial Street in 1968: (

2019missionuseMission Street between 4th and 5th Streets looking east in the 1940’s: No personalized license plates, no “SHIT HAPPENS” bumper stickers, and a lot more traffic. Probably every building in the vintage photo is gone now except the building with the Denny’s Restaurant and the building with the arched windows to the right of the Denny’s building. (

2019vnessuseVan Ness at Jackson Street heading north in 1964 and New Year’s Day, 2019: It’s a mess driving along Van Ness nowadays! ‘RICHFIELD BORON’, I had to look boron up. It’s a chemical element with the symbol B and the atomic number 5, produced by cosmic ray spallation and supernovae, and not by stellar nucleosynthesis. Hey, I knew that! (




2019; 1939 plus 80

1939 was a milestone year for San Francisco and the world; San Francisco staged the last World’s Fair it probably will ever have, World War Two broke out, and also 1939 saw the first member of my family ever to visit San Francisco. I haven’t counted, but I’ll bet the year of 1939 has the most vintage pictures I’ve posted on my blog. These are a collection of some of the pictures from 1939 that I’ve done comparisons on.

39plusmapuse49milemaptodayWe’ll open up with a 1939 map of the 49 Mile Scenic Drive from the San Francisco Downtown Association, and a current map of the Scenic Drive that shows where the route varies from the original drive today. It also shows that map drawers today show less creativity.

DandTFirstexituseDorthea Lange was a photographer famous for her pictures taken during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. In 1939 she took a number of pictures in San Francisco, including this one from the ramp of the First Street exit off of the Bay Bridge, now called the Fremont Street exit. You can see Coit Tower, the Shell Building, the Standard Building, and the Russ Building among other landmarks in her picture, none of which are visible from here today.

39plusLange1useIn another Dorthea Lange photo taken on the same day in 1939 as the previous picture, you can see the Key System train tracks along with a train that ran from the East Bay across the Bay Bridge and into the Transbay Terminal. The Fremont off ramp, seen in my picture, follows the same path as it did in 1939. Dorthea would have taken her picture near where the Fremont and Folsom street signs are in my picture.

39plusTBTerminaluseAn artist’s rendition of what the Transbay Terminal that opened in 1939 would look like, and the Transbay Terminal on the last day before it closed forever in August of 2010. The Transbay Terminal lasted for over 70 years. The Transit Terminal, that replaced it and opened in 2018, lasted a little over 7 weeks before it closed indefinitely.

39plusLombarduseAn auto navigates the portion of Lombard Street know as the “Crookedest Street in the World” in 1939.

39plusAquaticTwo 1939 cuties swimming at the Maritime Museum in Aquatic Park: The Maritime Museum opened in 1939. (Edwin Rosskam)

39plusOBeachuse A family enjoying a day at Ocean Beach near Seal Rocks and the Cliff House in 1939: Boy does that vintage picture look posed! (Moulin Studios)

39plusSutrosuseA couple more 1939 free-spirits riding their bicycles up to Sutro Heights above Playland-at-the-Beach:

39plusStoogesuseThe Three Stooges were at their peak in 1939 in their short film here, ‘Calling all Curs’. This scene was filmed at Fernwood Street and North St. Andrew’s Place in Los Angeles. (Columbia Pictures)

39plusTenderloinuseThe Tenderloin, seen here at Larkin and O’Farrell Streets in 1939, may have been a little more “tender” back then than it is today. (

39plusJonesuseA lady waiting for an auto, bus, streetcar or cab at on Market Street at Jones in 1939. I don’t know if that coat, whatever it was made from, would go over too well nowadays.

39plusGBreakuseGroundbreaking for the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure that opened in 1939: Notice the flags of Japan and Germany; fifteen months after the Fair closed in September of 1940, America would enter World War Two to fight these two countries.

39plusTIFairuseThe road that leads from Yerba Buena Island to Treasure Island showing the Treasure Island Fair that ran from February of 1939 through September of 1940: (FitzPatrick Traveltalks)

39plusCChanuseHollywood visited the Treasure Island Fair in the 1939 film ‘Charlie Chan at Treasure Island’ with Sidney Toler playing Charlie Chan. The Cantilever Bridge that ran from Yerba Buena Island to Oakland is in the background across “Clipper cove’ in both pictures. Clipper Cove got its name from the Pan Am Clipper Seaplanes that took off and landed here during the Fair. The new Eastern Span, still being constructed in my picture, opened during the summer of 2013.

39plusoverTIise‘Charlie Chan at Treasure Island’ has a scene that features a fly over of Treasure Island showing the Fair from a Clipper plane and some landmarks like the Sun Tower and the Administration Building.

39plusDecorativeuseThe Administration Building, an airplane hanger, and the Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts Building, seen here, are the only three surviving structures from the Fair.

39plusmomentosuseI have a few mementos from the Treasure Island Fair that I picked up at a museum sale over 50 years after the Fair closed; a coaster and an official tour book.

24thuseHowever, most dear to me was that my mother, as a teenager, took a train from Grand Forks, North Dakota to spend the summer of 1939 in San Francisco. She stayed with her aunt at this house on the corner of Anza Street and 24th Avenue in the Richmond District. My mom, on the left, is sitting with her cousin Frances. I remember my mom telling me how close she and Frances were, but by the 1990’s they had lost touch with each other forever.







Another look back to the 1970’s (For Jessica, with that urban tough look, but also pretty)

Some of the fine Dave Glass pictures from the 1970’s in this set give these San Francisco locations a hard-edge or seedy look, but also something of a quaint charm in a few of them that’s still there 40 to 45 years later.

Glass18thMissionuse18th and Mission Streets in 1979: E NIE RAABE FOR SHE IFF HE CARES HE KNO S. Well, if he was elected, I hope the first thing he straightened out was that sign.

GlassLibertyuseThe J Line drop from Liberty Street to Delores Park in 1974: Some of those old streetcars are the type they run along the vintage F Car Line along Market Street and the Embarcadero today. This area has the feel of old Brooklyn from movies like ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ when the streetcars rattle past.

GlassLakesideuseMission Street north of 18th Street in 1974: Lakeside Liquors is gone now. It may not have belonged here anyway; this is in the heart of the Mission District, and the nearest lake from here is probably across town in Golden Gate Park.

GlassEllisuseEllis Street at Divisadero looking west in 1977: Road hog! Actually, this was a good thing. In the 1970’s when they were demolishing many old Victorians in the Western Addition, some enterprising people bought a few of these old houses for “pennies on the dollar” and moved them to different locations. They are worth a LOT more today!

Glass21stuseThe J Line at 21st and Chattanooga Streets, heading south toward Noe Valley in 1974:

GlassOctaviauseThe northwest corner of Page and Octavia Streets in 1979: Wow, they had everything you need there; beer, liquor, cigarettes, Pepsi, 7up, sandwiches. How did fruit get in there?






More Wharf wandering

I read somewhere that Fisherman’s Wharf is the second largest tourist attraction in California after Disneyland, and I believe it. During the summer, you often can’t tell the difference by crowd size of either. But winter is closing in and Fisherman’s Wharf has quieted down a little. ‘I Wonder as I Wander’; that’s an old Christian folk song from the 1930’s, popular around Christmastime. I had the song stuck in my head as I was taking these pictures. I sometimes wonder as I wander around San Francisco too, although not always with religious bewilderment, like the person in the song. Today, I was wondering what makes Fisherman’s Wharf so special, and it is special. True, the views of the Bay from certain spots here are stunning, but I doubt if most of the tourists ever see them. Sometimes it seems that the majority of the crowd accepts an hour or two of overpriced parking just to linger around the north end of Taylor Street past Jefferson. That’s okay too, it’s good for business. Me, I usually like to wander around where the bilge rats (the real ones) take their shore leave. Sometimes, it’s kind of  fun to explore the back areas of Fisherman’s Wharf and pretend that you’re a scalawag just off of a ship looking for an opium den, or something like that. However, most vintage pictures were taken at the tourist spots, like the pictures in this set, and they’re fun to visit too.

WharfTayloruseTaylor Street, looking south toward Russian Hill from Jefferson Street: I couldn’t get a date of this picture from, but it looks like the mid to late 1950’s: Notice the Standard Station on the left in the vintage picture. There was a gasoline station on the northeast corner of Jefferson and Taylor Streets from the 1930’s until the mid 1970’s. Originally it was designed to look like a ship, as you’ll see in the next picture.

WharfstationuseThis was a photo I took a few years ago looking northeast across Taylor Street toward where the SS Fill ‘Er Up, or whatever it was called in the 1930’s, once was. By the mid 1960’s the station was remodeled into a more  conventional and less interesting look.

WharfredandwhiteuseDon’t let the locals fool you; the Red and White Tour Boats are not just for tourists.  Like the Blue and Gold fleet, they are a relaxing boat ride with beautiful views of San Francisco that anybody can enjoy. Here’s a boatload of people getting ready to sail in 1950. (

WharfRWticketuseThe old ticket office for the Red and White tours in 1940:  (

WharflagoonuseFisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon in 1940: This is not only my favorite from the Charles Cushman Collection, but it’s also one of my favorite San Francisco pictures.

WharfGrottouse In 1935, Fishermen’s Grotto Restaurant at Stall Number 9 opened up on Jefferson Street. This view is at the front of the old restaurant looking toward Pier 45 in the 1930’s. (Gene Gallagher Photos)

WharfKinkadeuseJefferson Street looking west from Taylor Street: Life is not a Thomas Kinkade painting, unfortunately.

WharfeatsuseThis view has changed little since 1958 in this picture from, and I think it’s a fitting photo. Possibly, most people do come to Fisherman’s Wharf for the food.


Back to the real world

Every once in a while I have to go down to Disneyland and pretend that this is what life is all about. Oh, well, for a couple of days this IS what life is all about! These are some Disneyland attractions from the opening day of July 17th 1955 that are still around:

DisnSWhiteuseSnow White and Her Adventures in Fantasyland, only now it’s Snow White’s Scary Adventures: (Pinterest)

DisnMTwainuse The Mark Twain Steamboat in Frontierland: (Flickr)

DisnSbookuseThe Storybook Land Canal Boats in Fantasyland: (Pinterest)

Autopiaredo Danny Kaye clowning around on the Autopia in Tomorrowland: The Autopia looks more like the Los Angeles Freeway now! (Disney Parks Blog)

DisnMToaduseTwo original survivors in Fantasyland; The King Arthur Carrousel on the right, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride on the left: (Disney Parks Blog)

DisnTrainuseThe Disneyland Railroad, here at the Main Street Station: (Timeout)

Disn2018useThe Main Street Cinema: (

DisnTCupsuseThe Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland: That’s Vice President Richard Nixon in the center of the vintage picture. The Chicken-of-the-Sea Pirate Ship in the background is gone now.

DisnCastleuseSleeping Beauty Castle: They decorated it really cool for the Christmas Season. That’s the Matterhorn in the background. (Laughing Place)