Another ‘Tim Tour’ (A thanks to Kevin for riding along and helping)

If you take the Hop On, Hop Off tour buses they’ll take you to places like the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf and those are fine places to visit, but if you take the Tim Tour here, I’ll take you up close to a cable car and the famous “Painted Ladies”. You’ll get a past look at the Portals of the Past and travel back to a World War Two change in Golden Gate Park. You’ll see San Francisco’s answer to the Swiss Alps, and I’ll show you where the lights are out and nobody’s home at a famous San Francisco landmark, at least for the time being! We’ll end up with a different view of the Cliff House than the one usually seen, complete with a celestial visitor!

timtourshydestuse Cable cars still “climb half way to the stars” on the “Hyde Street Grip” here on Russian Hill, and I got a nice smile from a passenger!

timtour3alamouse The famous “Painted Ladies” of Alamo Square from a different view than the one that’s now folklore: (Bob Hollingsworth)

timtour3portalsuse The doorway of A. N. Towne’s mansion was all that was left standing of his Nob Hill home after the 1906 Earthquake. It was moved out to Lloyd’s Lake in Golden Gate Park in 1909. Known as the ‘Portals of the Past’, here it is seen in an undated photo from whatever they call the decade before the 1920’s and yesterday.

timtour3moonbridgeuse The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is one of the few attractions that remain from the 1894 Midwinter International Exposition. After Pearl Harbor when anti Japanese sentiment ran high, the name of the Garden was changed to the Oriental Tea Garden. The name was changed back to the Japanese Tea Garden after World War Two. The left photo was at the Moon Bridge during the war.

timtour3tramuse The Sky-Tram ran behind the Cliff House from 1955 to 1961. It carried passengers across part of the Pacific Ocean behind the Sutro Bathhouse from the Cliff House to a waterfall at Point Lobos, seen here in these pictures, and back. It’s just a faded memory today and few people have heard of it.

timtour3mlaneuse The only building in San Francisco designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is at 140 Maiden Lane. Built in 1949, a number of galleries and businesses have been housed there, the last being the Xanadu Gallery, but as of last Thursday evening it remains empty, and, kind of, spooky looking. The picture on the left is from the 1950’s.

timtour3angelchouseuse The old drawing from 1910 at the top appears to be the view from behind the Cliff House. They labeled it “New” then, and it’s, basically, the same building that’s there today. You can only get to this spot at low tide, (or if you’re an angel, and I had no idea what that was all about) I’ve never been this far behind the Cliff House before so I don’t know what those butts up on the wall are for, but there are some interesting caves down here that you would drown in when the tide comes in.

timtour3angeluse I’ll just pretend I’m taking a picture of Seal Rocks!

Street Closure Sunday – The Embarcadero

Last Sunday was another street closure day in San Francisco; the Embarcadero was closed to auto traffic from Broadway to AT&T Park. Got a chance to dust off the old bike and take it over on BART for a ride and some then and nows courtesy of


The north side of the Ferry Building in 1941:


A military parade at Pier 3 in the early 1930’s:


“Hey, did I tell you the one about the farmer’s daughter and the traveling salesman?”

Army troops at Pier 1 during the labor strike that shut down the waterfront in 1934:


The old Southern Pacific Building looking across the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building in 1940:


The YMCA Building south of the Ferry Building in July of 1938:


The Embarcadero at Folsom Street looking north toward the Ferry Building in 1938: All of the old piers here were demolished in the 1980’s. Also, the Embarcadero has been reconfigured here for the Rincon Point Park with its giant “Cupid’s Arrow” on the right.


The Hills Brothers Coffee Building with the Bay Bridge in the back in 1938:

“Lazing on a sunny afternoon” at Fisherman’s Wharf

I read somewhere that Fisherman’s Wharf is the second largest tourist attraction in California next to Disneyland. I don’t doubt that claim at all.

lazincoupleuse The Fisherman’s Wharf Lagoon in 1960: Alioto’s has gotten much larger. Saturdays in San Francisco are made for couples, and a special thanks to the nice couple who obliged me with a comparison pose. The girl is named Joyce, but I couldn’t remember the fellow’s name. If you two wind up checking out my blog, mention the guy’s name in the comments so I can thank him too.

lazinwharfuse The Wharf Lagoon from Jefferson Street in the 1950’s:

lazinaquaticparkuse The cable car turntable at Aquatic Park in the 1960’s: There’s a cable car down there somewhere in the modern picture and a much bigger line.

lazinghiraduse Ghirardelli Square in the 1960’s, complete with mini skirt:

lazinwharfwestuse The boat lagoon looking toward the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930’s: Time hasn’t taken the atmosphere off this spot at all; it still looks just like a little fishing village in Italy. The building to the right of the ferryboat was demolished in the 1960’s and the little brown building that’s there now is a chapel.

The Shopping District before the onslaught (For Jon Chaisson)

Enjoying a relatively calm Veterans Day in Downtown San Francisco: In a few more weeks it will be Black Friday and this area will look similar to the Oklahoma Land Rush!

vetodoulsuse Lefty O’Doul’s on Geary Blvd. from Union Square in the 1970’s:

powellttableuse It’s a rare day when there are more people waiting to board a cable car in the 1940’s at the Powell Street cable turntable than there were today!

vetpheasantuse The corner of Powell Street and Geary Blvd in 1948:

floodbldinguse Market Street at Powell with the Flood Building on the left just after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire: Buildings were being blown up to prevent the spread of the fire. The crowned Cal Building on the right, a survivor of the disaster as well as the Flood Building, is behind the dome roofed Humboldt Building built after the earthquake.

vetctownuse Chinatown will get its share of holiday shoppers as well in a few weeks.

Twilight in the City (For Diana of Cinema’s Muse)

The evenings this past weekend in San Francisco were the about the prettiest I’ve seen all year.

twilightgearyuse Geary Blvd., west of Mason in the 1950’s: Carol Channing was appearing at the Curran Theater. I learn something new about San Francisco everyday; when I was researching this location I found out that the old Paisley Hotel, now the Union Square Plaza, is where a woman named Florence Cushing jumped to her death in 1911. See the link below from the Bold Italics web site. I should have done this one last week on Halloween or All Souls Day! Don’t worry, this post gets more cheerful.

twiightpowelluse Powell Street up from Bush in the 1950’s: I gave it a good try with my mobile phone camera, and I had to be on the other side of Powell because trees block the view on that side now. One day, I’ll redo it with my expensive camera I bought years ago and never use. It doesn’t fit in my shirt pocket! The San Francisco State College is now the Academy of Art University.

twilight-capitola-gallery-use Thomas Kinkade’s picture of Powell Street at twilight is set one block up from where I was at in the previous picture near Pine Street and Powell. It’s true that I don’t know a lot about art; I once stared at the Mona Lisa for ten minutes when I was in Paris waiting for something to happen, and I’m not sure it did. I also know that many art critics dismiss his paintings as tripe, but Kinkade’s San Francisco pictures make me feel good, and that’s just the way it is. Let’s see, he has the Manx Hotel on the wrong side of Powell Street, the Bay Bridge south of Market Street, and, probably, a dozen other things I haven’t noticed yet. Eh, I still like it. (Capitola Gallery)

twilightchinatownuse Grant Avenue at Clay Street in the 1950’s: The Empress of China Building on the right wasn’t built yet. The Elite Company is now the Jing Ying Gift Shop.

twilightfwharfuse This 1975 Peter Stratmoen picture at the corner of Taylor and Jefferson Streets in Fisherman’s Wharf is of particular interest to me. On the corner where the Z Backward K Gallery, or whatever that is now, was once where the Sea Captain’s Chest Gift Shop used to be. You can see their sign in the twilight shadows of the old photo. My first memory of going to San Francisco was when my folks took me to Fisherman’s Wharf when I was a child. I remember that it was a cold and overcast day. Well, it was! I had never seen anyplace in the world like the Sea Captain’s Chest shop. I remember my dad buying me a souvenir called The Sea Captain’s Magic Kit or something like that, and I loved it! At this intersection Lee Remick takes a taxi to Candlestick Park to deliver ransom money in order free her sister Stefanie Powers in the 1962 film, ‘Experiment in Terror’. See the next photo.

twilightremickuse  twilightpieruse It’s been awhile since I’ve been out on the Van Ness Municipal Pier at twilight. I forgot how pretty San Francisco looks from here when the sun starts going down.

twilightghirardelliuse Ghirardelli Square, a little bit earlier in the evening than the old postcard:

Lunch at Union Square (and thinking about Tuesday’s elections)

Vintage photos compliments of


Union Square in 1960: No, they didn’t move the Dewey Monument; I just couldn’t get a perfect lineup because they’re putting up the holiday attractions. The City of Saint Francis is getting ready for the Christmas Season! The beloved City of Paris Department Store was demolished in 1980.


A pro marijuana demonstration near the southwest corner of Union Square in 1964; Proposition 64 comes to mind. I can’t tell which is higher up from the ground, her dress or his pants! If that fellow is an example of how wholesome marijuana is, he’s a bad argument!


Same pro marijuana rally: The street preacher doesn’t seem too happy about the demonstrators. At first, I thought I got a picture of Hillary Clinton on the right when I got back to the office; I always wondered what she looks like in jeans!


Richard and Patricia Nixon crossing Powell Street from the St. Francis Hotel toward Union Square at a rally for his presidential run against Kennedy in September of 1960: He lost. (Trust me; there are people who don’t know that!) Most of the buildings on the north side of Union Square in the back have been replaced.


Darn, everyone was enjoying the birds, and then Alfred Hitchcock came along and screwed everything up!


The northwest corner of Union Square in 1958: I like the old traffic signals better. Now that’s what San Francisco needs for election week, more Old Crow billboards! Actually, I only drank a bottle of Old Crow once with two girls named Laura and Merrilee when I was 17 and we were supposed to be in school. We got so drunk, we swore off drinking! Merrilee and Laura may have kept that pledge! Wikipedia says that Old Crow was the favorite of Ulysses S. Grant; another person to win the Presidency who knew nothing about politics!

A gloomy Halloween day in San Francisco

And just the way that I wanted it today for comparison pictures of gloomy San Francisco days from the past.

gloomyhydeuse Hyde and Union Streets on Russian Hill in the mid 1970’s: You can just make out Swensen’s Ice Cream Parlor on the left in the vintage picture. I fall prey to their ice cream every time I’m in the area, even on cold days like this. (Peter Stratmoen)

gloomychinatownuse Chinatown in the mid 1970’s: (Peter Stratmoen)

gloomycalifgrantredo You know, I felt sorry for Mr. Stratmoen having his 1975 photograph at California Street and Grant Avenue spoiled by a passing car, so I thought I’d update it for him. Well, what do you suppose happened?

gloomyaltause The Southwest corner of Alta Plaza in the 1950’s (Phil Palmer)

gloomygrantaveuse Grant Avenue, just down from Chinatown, in another Peter Stratmoen photo from 1975: The sun finally came out just as I was heading for home. Notice the building on the left with the columns and arched entrance; this was the Pacific Telephone Exchange Building during World War Two. It was considered so vital that sand bags were stacked covering the entire entrance after Pearl Harbor in case of a Japanese air attack, although, I don’t know what good this would have been on a direct hit. (See the next photograph)


Sunnier and in the 80’s (The 1980’s)

These are more redos of slide pictures I took in 1983 and 1984. I sure picked a gloomy day for picture taking today, but that’s the way it goes. The weather forecasters in San Francisco are completely unpredictable; when they say it’s going to rain…… it does!

more80missionuse Mission and Steuart Streets in 1983: The Embarcadero Freeway and the Bay Bridge are in the background. That’s the Audiffred Building on the left corner. Originally built in 1889, it’s on the National Registry of Historic Places.

more80fbuildinguse The Embarcadero Freeway; how I miss it, NOT!!!

more80marketstuse The crosswalk at Powell and Market Streets in 1983: They had just begun running the old time streetcars again on Market Street; this is now the F Line.

more80powelloneuse From 1982 to 1984, the entire cable car system was shut down for repairs. When I took this slide photo in the spring of 1983 on the corner Powell and Geary at Union Square, you could see the construction work being done on the line.

more80californiastuse California Street between Grant Avenue and Stockton Street: Two slug bugs! No cable cars meant any cable cars! The California Street line was shut down, as well. You can see them digging up California Street at the bottom of Nob Hill. To this day, I still stop to watch a cable car pass by when I see one. How did we get along two years without them!

more80powelltwouse In June of 1984 the cable car lines reopened and San Francisco threw a celebration in honor of the occasion. This was taken a little farther up Powell Street from Geary between Union Square and the St. Francis Hotel.

“Hooray for Hollywood!”

Theirs is no better place in the world for classic movie locations than Los Angeles. I got a chance to sneak down there for a couple of days this week.

hollywoodopenuse Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where the Stars leave their mark in cement:

elcapitan The El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Blvd.: Clark Gable played on the stage there before breaking into the movies. “You can see all the Stars in my sunglasses as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard.”

carygrantmeuse Somehow, I just don’t match up. Cary’s square in the picture doesn’t match up to the one that’s there today, either; I guess they redo those later sometimes.

Musicboxredo Tucked away on Vendome Street not far from Downtown Los Angeles are the stairs Laurel and Hardy used in their Academy Award winning short comedy ‘The Music Box’, made in 1932. The plot is simple; Laurel and Hardy are two delivery men attempting to carry a player piano up a long flight of stairs to a customer. After a series of hilarious mishaps, (you know Hardy is going to fall down these stairs at least several times because of bumbling mistakes made by Laurel) and encounters with quarrelsome people, they get the piano to the top of the stairs. There is a plaque dedicated to the film on one of the steps near the bottom of the stairs. (

icemenoneuse Ah, sacred ground. Several miles from the stairs where Laurel and Hardy filmed scenes for ‘The Music Box’ are the stairs where the Three Stooges filmed the icemen scene in ‘An Ache in Every Stake’ from 1941. We’re parked where the Stooges parked their ice wagon in the opening of the scene.

icementwouse  icementhreeuse In those days, not everyone could afford a refrigerator and some had an ice box, supplied regularly by deliveries from the iceman. When the Stooges arrive, they see that the lady ordering the ice is at the top of a ridiculously high flight of stairs. No matter how hard they try to get the ice up to her, the ice blocks melt by the time they’re at the top. It doesn’t get any better than this! My picture is looking down from where the lady was waiting at the top of the steps.

monorailnixon I can’t go down to Los Angeles without going to Disneyland. I’ve been doing that since I was a kid, which, on last Thursday, was just yesterday. Here’s a little Disneyland trivia you may already know. Vice President Richard Nixon and Patricia were there along with Walt for the opening of the Monorail in 1959. (They were there for the opening of BART too; there’s seems to be a pattern here!) The nose of the trains stop beyond the exit gate, so I couldn’t get an exact then & now unless I walked out on the track, and they probably would have said something to me. I’m glad that was running this time because it’s one of my favorite Disneyland attractions and far less scarier than It’s a Small World!

SnowWhitemeuse One of us got older!