Noir Sunday (Thumbnail images)

One of the television channels I’m able to get at home shows film noir movies Sunday nights under the title ‘Sunday Night Noir’. In fact, there’ll probably be a couple for me to screen tonight. To get in the mood, I’ll post  a collection of film noir movies set in San Francisco that I’ve done comparisons on. So, wait until it’s dark, grab a bottle of hooch, keep a “roscoe” handy, be wary of any femme fatales, and check out my post. Some of the DVDs I used haven’t been fully restored, but they’re clear enough, and they may spark your interest in the movies if you haven’t seen any of them yet. (Movie posters, Wikipedia,,



‘Red Light’, from 1949 starring George Raft and Virginia Mayo, was a movie I just recently saw on ‘Sunday Night Noir’. Any movie that opens up driving out of the Yerba Buena Tunnel onto the Bay Bridge can’t be all bad, and this one isn’t, although the religious motif is seldom used in movies today.


Elisha Cook Jr. arrives at the Ferry Building on a mission to kill in the 1947 film ‘Born to Kill’, also starring Laurence Tierney and Claire Trevor. Ferry service to the Ferry Building has been considerably reduced since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

Shady detective Walter Slezak crosses the Embarcadero from Market Street to leave San Francisco by ferryboat after reading in the paper of the violent deaths of the people he was investigating at the end of ‘Born to Kill’. “The way of the transgressor is hard.” he quotes from the bible as he leaves. My picture may have been better without the F Line streetcar in it, but now that they aren’t running I miss them and it’s okay.


The opening scenes from the 1950 movie ‘Experiment Alcatraz start with a view of the skyline and piers south of the Ferry Building from under the Bay Bridge. All of these piers have been demolished now. This is an interesting oddity about an experiment by the army with convicts from Alcatraz Prison that goes wrong.


“Speedy’s” Market, just visible on the left, on Union and Montgomery Streets in the 1951 film ‘The House on Telegraph Hill’ starring Richard Basehart, Valentina Cortese, and William Lundigan: I’ve posted this before, but I’m reading another one of Herb Caen’s wonderful books, ‘One Man’s San Francisco’ from 1976, and he has an interesting passage about Speedy’s, that made me miss the tiny market, which closed in 2007 after ninety years. I’ll include his passage below.

{Also that day, playwright Lillian Hellman, who wrote The Little Foxes among other classics, walked into Speedy’s old grocery on Telegraph Hill, another timeless landmark on the Saroyan map. She had just moved into a nearby penthouse (she was lecturing at UC-Berkeley at that time) and wanted to establish credit. “You’ll have to fill out the usual form.” said George Atashkarian, the Armenian who owns Speedy’s. “But I’m Lillian Hellman,” protested the playwright. “That doesn’t mean too much to me,” said George. “Look, I’m George Atashkarian, does that mean anything to you? “No,” said Miss Hellman. “I see what you mean.” She trudged back to her digs and returned with a clipping of a newspaper interview with her picture. She got the credit. And the clipping is now tacked to the wall of Speedy’s.}


Edmond O’Brien crosses the intersection of Jones and Sacramento Streets on Nob Hill and stumbles into a medical clinic after learning that he’s been poisoned in the 1950 film ‘D.O.A.’. Grace Cathedral is in the background.


 The view down California Street past the Fairmont Hotel in the 1949 film ‘Impact’ starring Brian Donlevy and Ella Raines:


 The same view as the previous picture but in the middle of California Street (you get a clearer view of the Cirque Room at the Fairmont Hotel, as well) from the 1958 movie ‘The Lineup’ starring Eli Wallach:

Also from ‘The Lineup’, the entrance to Sutro’s Museum, and the best look on film of the old Sutro Bathhouse: The car parking in front of the bus contains killer Eli Wallach, his partner Robert Keith, and a woman and child that they’ve kidnapped.


Glenn Ford, being chased by the police, turns into Genoa Place from Union Street in the 1949 film ‘Mr. Soft Touch’. You get a better view of Russian Hill in the background from out in the street here today.


An auto containing lovely Joan Bennett races to the end of Pier 4 in the 1940 movie ‘The House Across the Bay’. This was not the same Pier 4 that was south of the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. In the background are the Maritime Museum, Ghirardelli Square, and Aquatic Park. You can see the curve of the Van Ness Municipal Pier behind Pier 4 in the background of the film shot. Pier 4 has been deemed unsafe and is off limits now. I took my photo from the Van Ness Pier.

In the previous picture, Joan Bennett was hurrying to say goodbye to her lover George Raft on Pier 4, who was being taken by boat to Alcatraz Prison. She was late and missed to boat. Because the pier is closed, I took my picture at the beginning of the pier, looking out to where Joan was standing. This was the pier where convicts and visitors were taken by boat out to Alcatraz Island. The building on the left was where prisoners waited under armed guard for the boat that would take them out for their stretch. It’s an historic area of San Francisco and I hope the old pier can be saved.














Nineteenth Century views from “Nabob” Hill (Thumbnail images)

The origin of the word nabob come from the early 17th Century and refers to individuals who returned to England from India after acquiring a fortune from there. In San Francisco, the word had a slightly derogatory usage referring to the “snobbish” upper class citizens living in opulence up on “Nabob” Hill. By the mid 19th Century, the hill official became Nob Hill, which is probably better than Nabob Hill. Today, it still has the aura of the well-to-do, but unlike Pacific Heights, much of the hill is open to the public. These are a collection of pictures from the mid to late 19th Century showing different views from “Nabob” Hill, most of which are still breathtaking today. We’ll start at Jones Street and end up on Stockton Street

Clay Street, looking east from Jones Street in 1875: Yerba Buena Island can be seen on the left in the vintage picture. (

Mason Street, up from Clay Street, in 1865: Angel Island is in the distance, Russian Hill is on the left. I wonder what that structure on top of Russian Hill was. Maybe that’s where they got the idea for Lombard Street. (

The Mark Hopkins mansion on the corner of Mason and California Streets: By nature, I’m inclined to think that nobody ever needed a house that big. (SF Chronicle)

“Hey, kids! Why don’t you go play in some other room of the house, huh?”

“Which one? We have 75 of them!”

The view past the Hopkins mansion, south down Mason Street, circa 1888: (

Looking east down Sacramento Street from Powell Street in 1865: Arnold Genthe would later take one of the greatest pictures in photographic history from this spot in 1906 during the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. (

Looking southeast down California Street from Mason Street in 1870: The church at the bottom of the hill was named Grace Church. It was destroyed during the 1906 earthquake and rebuild as Grace Cathedral further up Nob Hill.

Looking east on California Street approaching Stockton Street in 1891: Grace Church is on the right.


An undated picture, probably taken after the 1860s, looking north along Stockton Street: Alcatraz Island can be seen in the vintage picture. My comparison photo was taken on top of the Stockton Tunnel.









Niles, 2020 (Thumbnail pictures)

Margot Patterson Doss was a columnist who wrote wonderful articles for the San Francisco Chronicle under the title of ‘San Francisco at Your Feet’ and later in her career ‘The Bay Area at Your Feet’. In 1978 she wrote about the history of movies in Niles in her column entitled ‘The Movies’ One-Horse Town’. There wasn’t a lot of information available at that time about the history of Niles, and the article was a real treat for me. Margot’s articles were always a walking tour, complete with map, and I took her walking tour long ago and kept the article. I retook her Niles walk again this week. Some of this chapter of hers is outdated now, but it’s still the best single article I’ve seen concerning the film history of Niles. Margot Patterson Doss died in 2003; let’s take an internet walk with her around Niles and I’ll post some of her comments in brackets.

Much of the historic buildings in Niles are temporarily closed now due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and a lot of the places I love to visit can only be seen from outside right now. Like Margot did forty two years ago, we’ll start at the train station.

{Park by the boarded up depot, ideal for a community center or railroad museum, and take a look at that train station and its palm trees. The bow at the ticket-wicket and the columns topped by window pilasters are such perfect architectural details, it should be nominated for the National Historic Register, an idea which has appealed to many townsfolk here}

The Train Station, which was moved to Mission Blvd. in 1982 and in 2009, back to the spot where it originally stood when it was built in 1911, is a railroad museum now.

My older brother David and I posed in front of the train station when it was boarded up before Margot wrote her article. You can tell the vintage picture was long ago because of my brother’s hair.


{Walk another block along Niles Boulevard, noting Don’s Antique Autoparts and the cigar store Indian in front of the Devil’s Workshop Mercantile, as you pass.}

I think Don’s Antique Autoparts is still there, but the cigar store Indian is gone. Two things Margot doesn’t comment on along this stretch because they may not have been known to her then, are the old movie theater where Charlie Chaplin premiered the five movies he shot in Niles and the house where Edna Purviance, Chaplin’s leading lady in the films he shot during his stay in Niles, used to live in. They’ve replaced the old fence now that was in front of Edna’s house when I took the top comparison in 2016.

{At Niles and G, Holland Gas, a suitably simple service station, stands on the site of the old Essanay building. All told, Essanay produced 450 Pictures in and around Niles, using Bronhco Billy, Ben Turpin, Wallace Beery, Jimmy Gleason, Zasu Pitts, Ethel Clayton, Marie Dressler, and nearly 50 lesser known talents.}

Holland Gas is gone now, and a fire station is now on the corner where the Essanay Movie Studio once was. The vintage photo of the studio taken in the late 1920s after the studio closed is from John Bengtson’s book ‘Silent Traces’.

{Bear left on G half a block to number 153-5, which was Broncho Billy’s office and cottage.}

This is where Broncho Billy stayed in Niles today. You’ll read more about him shortly.

{At Second Street, bear left along the lane of California sycamore trees. In 1912 this row of cottages was built to house performers on location. Many of the homes in this block are modifications and alterations of those early “dressings rooms.”}

This is the row of cottages today.

{At G Street bear right, crossing Second. Sidewalks, installed in 1930, have yet to be extended here.}

42 years after Margot’s article, and they still haven’t extended sidewalks here.

{At the Alley, cross G Street and bear left. The ramshackled, shake-roof barn is where Broncho Billy stabled his horse.}

Broncho Billy was the movies first major cowboy star.  Demolished in the 1980s, I remember looking at that barn when I first traced Margot’s map, fascinated by its history, but alas, alack, and Alaska, I didn’t have a camera to take a picture of it. “It is to weep.” Billy’s barn was right here behind the fence with the blue dawn flowers.

The rest of my visit was not on Margot Patterson Doss’s route. The old Niles Jail here now houses an insurance company. I’d like to think that Broncho Billy threw a bad hombre or two in here during his stay in Niles, but the building may have been built after his films were made in Niles.


East of the city of Niles is Niles Canyon, where Broncho Billy filmed most of his outdoor action scenes. It was also out in Niles Canyon, before the main highway ran through it, where Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp wandered off into folklore. Above, is a vintage picture posted on Pinterest of a train on the old Sunol-Niles Railroad route crossing the highway. You’re not allowed to stop on the highway here, so I had to take my picture as quick as I could. I didn’t get a train in my shot either.

Margot also wrote, {It was also down one of the tree-lined country lanes around Niles Canyon that a winsome little comedian named Charlie Chaplin waddled his way into the sunset and the hearts of filmgoers as “The Tramp.” The final fadeout in which the rejected tramp with the expressive cane walks off down the lane toward a brighter tomorrow became the signature as well as signoff of later Chaplin films. Which was the tree-lined lane of the little tramp? Today, only Chaplin knows.}

Not anymore, thanks to the historians at the Niles Museum who located the spot and directed me to it to get this comparison picture back in 2018. Also, Margot writes of the tree-lined lane, “Today, only Chaplin knows.” Charlie Chaplin died on Christmas Day, 1977, so Margot may have taken her walk before the article was published in 1978, or my recollection of the 1978 date of the column may not be accurate; “only Chaplin knows.”

It will need some editing (All in fun)

The next novel I write, which will actually be the first novel I write, which will probably never get written, will be a crime thriller set in San Francisco during 1937. It will be inspired by the photographs of Ken Cathcart, whom I wrote about in the previous post, and will be in first person format. The protagonist will be on the run, either hiding from the police, the mob, or the United States Treasury. The novel will open up in Chinatown, just the place for my hero to hide who’s being pursued by the police for a murder he didn’t commit, or the mob for skimming money, or the United States Treasury for absolutely nothing; I haven’t worked that out yet. The following is a working draft of my novel.

Cathcartkiduse{I headed for Chinatown. I had friends there and was certain that I could lay low until the heat was off. As I headed up Grant Avenue to California Street, I approached a young lad holding a shoe shine box.

“Hey, mister, let me shine your shoes or I’ll shoot you!”

I began to wonder if I may have come to the wrong place.}

CathcartWaverlyuse{My destination was the Lee Building at 109 Waverly Place. When I approached the temple I spotted the lookout on the second floor. He was called a “lookout” because if you didn’t look out when you were around him, you could vanish! It might be a good place to hide, but it also may be more trouble than it was worth. I decided to move on.}

CathcartSixCouse{My next stop was the Six Families Building on Stockton Street. The families associated with this building had a history of assisting people in need. When I asked them if I could find temporary shelter in the building they asked me which of the six families who owned the building was I a member of. When I asked them who the names of the six families associated with the Six Companies Building were, they replied, “Kong Chow, Ning Yeung, Sam Yup, Yeong Wo, Hop Wo, and Yan Wo.” Being Irish, I wanted to be very careful about which family name I selected. While I was trying to decide which one to pick, they quietly closed the door.}

CathcartSpofforduse{The Free Mason Building in Spofford Place; just the place to hide! After all, they hid Sun Yat-sen from assassins at 36 Spofford Alley while he was in exile trying to raise money for his revolution; although the current tenants here probably aren’t aware of that. I knocked on the door and a man answered. I told him I was in danger, and asked him if I could hide out here for awhile.

“Who do you think you are, Sun Yat-sen?” he replied, and slammed the door in my face.}

CathcartColumbususe{I stopped to rest at the corner of Columbus and Kearny. I wondered if I’d shaken the people who were after me, I wondered if I could find a place to sleep, I wondered how much money I had, and I wondered if those really were female impersonators at Finocchio’s up the hill.}

CathcartInternationaluse{Ah, the International Settlement on “Terrific Street”, a “terrific” place to hide out! Why, even “Baby Face” Nelson came here to hide out in July of 1934; except he died four months after that. That’s not encouraging.}

CathcartDianause{Well, at least I can get a meal at Diana’s Café; the food stinks, but she doesn’t charge much. She said to me when I left, “Don’t complain about my coffee, you’ll be old and weak someday too.”} *

* I swiped that one from Mad Magazine: Author

Cathcartexplosionuse{Diana had told me that there was a place on the corner of Sansome and Jackson Streets  where they would put me up for the night, no questions asked. However, shortly before I arrived there, the building was blown up in a terrific explosion! I knew that the bomb was meant for me. I was frightened thinking about the violent type of people who would go this far to get me. I was filled with rage over thoughts about innocent people who may have been hurt because of me. But most of all, I was absolutely delighted that I wasn’t in the building when it exploded.}

Well, this is as far as I’ve gotten with the outline of my novel. Maybe it’s best that I stick with taking pictures instead. (Photograph source, ‘Gold Mountain, Big City’ by Jim Schein)


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. (