San Francisco in the 1950’s

taylorredouse Taylor Street on Russian Hill: If that person parking taps into the car on the passenger side, they’ll all go over like dominos! (Phil Palmer)

ellisredouse The old Humboldt Building from Ellis Street in the 1950’s:  (Phil Palmer)

tearoomredouse Ah, the scourge of North Beach, the pizza pusher! The old Beatnik hangout, the Tea Room, has been remodeled and is now Maggie McGarry’s. Hope that other fellow in the doorway wasn’t doing what it looks like he was! (Phil Palmer)

washingtonredouse Washington Street up from Stockton: Be nice to your sister, kid! I had to, and I didn’t like it anymore than you do! He’d really have to look out for her today with all of the construction that’s going on there.

fresnokearnyredo  “Leave us aloooooone!”

I’ve seen this scary movie! They’re from outer space and when their eyes light up, you disappear or something! No, wait, that was ‘The Village of the Damned’. Actually, these kids annoyed here by a photographer on Kearny Street have, long since, grown up and had kids of their own who have also grown up and had their own children. (Phil Palmer)

Down these streets

downvnessuse “Down these mean streets a man must go.”

They’re not really mean streets, that’s just a quote from the author, Raymond Chandler, but you may see some mean looking people along the way. We’ll start at Bush and Van Ness in the 1920’s

Downstreets3eduse 3rd Street down toward Market Street during the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake: Don’t look back, lady; look what happened to Lot’s wife!

downgoughuseFrom the Shorpy’s Collection, Gough Street at Lafayette Square: That fellow in the middle looks, kind of, mean!
“What are you looking at?”
“Nothing! Just wondering why she’s not sitting in the middle.”

downfleshlaceuse From the Cushman Collection, Market Street between 3rd and 4th. ‘Flesh and Lace’, that’s a grabber! I think there’s a terrible pun in there somewhere.

downupperkearnyuse Vintage Fred Lyon, Kearny Street, up from Broadway in the 1940’s: No meanness here, just kids acting like adults ought to.

downcaliforniause California Street down from Grant Avenue: Well, they all walked away from that one! In fact, they, probably, ran away! The Stauffer Chemical Company was located about where the stairs in the white building across California Street are today.

downfultonuse Fulton at Alamo Square in 1967 during the “Summer of Love”: No meanness, just peace and love, and, okay, maybe a few mind altering drugs.

downhaightoneuse A Cushman Collection photo at Haight and Masonic during the “Summer of Love” in 1967: That’s right, buddy, peace, love, and the finger! Well, at least the girl in my picture didn’t flip me off!

downhaighttwouse Another view of Haight and Masonic during the “Summer of Love”: This guy’s not mean, he’s just stupid! It must have been ‘A Lower Element of Love Child Day’.

downjakeuse Columbus and Broadway:  ‘Jake’s Cigar Store’; it gets right to the point. I’ll bet Jake was a tough looking guy!

downfresnostuse Kids go down these streets too. Sometimes they walk……..

downslideuse …….. and sometimes they slide!

Tracking down Bonnie and Clyde

opener As far as I know they never came to San Francisco, but life isn’t always where “little cable cars climb halfway to the stars”. Far from San Francisco, and not too long ago, I toured the South and Southwest to do some then and nows on various Bonnie and Clyde locations. Here at Gibsland, Louisiana, is the town that Bonnie and Clyde left on the morning of May 23rd, 1934 to their killing ground. A festival is held every May here commemorating the event of their ambush by Texas Rangers. Thousands of people attend.

bcposseuse Two members of the killing posse reenact what happened at the spot Bonnie and Clyde were shot. Notice how the road still winds away similar to the way it did in 1934.

nowhereuse The ride to nowhere: I was sitting on the passenger side. The ambush spot is at the top of the hill. This would have been Bonnie’s view as they approached their doom.

bcreenactuse A police reenactment of where their car came to a stop after the shooting. The posse hid at the top of the hill where the trail goes up in the lower picture, and opened up on Bonnie and Clyde as their car passed by. The area was much more overgrown in 1934.

bcposseambushuse The posse fired down from where I’m at here on top of the hill.

bcsiteuse The historical marker placed at the ambush location. Recently, a new marker was installed here to replace the old one that was there when I visited the spot.

bcbonnieandmeuse The real Bonnie Parker and the Bonnie Parker at the Gibsland Festival: She looks like she wants to shoot me!

bccaruse The Bonnie and Clyde death car after it was towed into town, and a picture I took of it in Nevada. This IS the real car they were shot in.

markerredouse Bonnie Parker’s grave in Dallas Texas. The sentiment reads “As the flowers are all made sweeter by the sunshine and the dew, so this old world is made brighter by the lives of folks like you.” Only a loving mother could be that naive. I was on the trail of Bonnie and Clyde again just last Christmas on a visit to Texas. Here’s the link to that post.



San Francisco in the 1970’s

streetsredo1 Karl Malden, “Papa Cop” and Michael Douglas, “Buddy Boy”, stars of the Streets of San Francisco”:

streetsredo2 “Buddy Boy” and “Papa Cop” finish up another day of violating somebody’s civil rights at the old Pier 18. Actually, they were pretty fair in the show. Pier 18 is gone now, but some of the old wooden supports can still be seen.

streetsredo3 A bad guy in a obviously 1970’s outfit that was probably made into a couch eventually, walks past the Saints Peter and Paul Church at Washington Square in a Streets of San Francisco episode.

70sstarskyredo In what was, probably, the most scenic parking lot in San Francisco before they blocked the view with a building, Paul Michael Glaser of  television’s ‘Husky and Starch’, I mean, ‘Starsky and Hutch’ gets into fisticuffs with two parking attendants in a ‘Streets of San Francisco’ episode. What you get now in the parking lot is a lovely view of the back of an ugly building.

jacksonredoSchool children heading up Nob Hill from Chinatown on Jackson Street: I had to be on the other side of the street to get the Bay Bridge in now.

70sbflysredo Goldie Hawn and her blind boy friend, played by Edward Albert, pass the City Lights Bookstore in North Beach in the 1972 film ‘Butterflies Are Free’.

ofarrellredo O’Farrell Street, west of Powell:


“Here’s your ticket, Mr. Welsh.”

Some of my favorite links

Click on the image below for a wonderful 1927 map of San Francisco that can be zoomed in for a close up view. (

Click on the photo below for a zoom in look at  George Lawrence’s incredible kite photograph of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake.


streetcaruse Click on the link below for Muni’s moveable map to the old streetcars running on the F and E Lines.

expocityClick on this link below, and it opens up to David Rumsey’s terrific version of a map that you can zoom in on for a great look at 1912 San Francisco. Although, it navigates better on a PC. Alright, so they spelled Fisherman’s Wharf wrong, who’s gonna notice!–?sort=Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No&qvq=q:1915%2Bmap;sort:Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=0&trs=421 

I’ve saved the best for last. Click on the link below to open the David Rumsey Map Collection 1938 aerial photo composite of San Francisco. You can zoom in pretty close for a wonderful view from above of what San Francisco was like back then.



“Now watch the summer pass. So close to you.”

summerscheveuse It’s the last week of summer in what Herb Caen called “the city with no seasons’, and that holds true for this week. The weather has been cloudy and overcast on some days, and warm and sunny on others. I got mostly sunny weather for my visits this week.

This is at the northwest corner of Post Street and Grant Avenue in the 1920’s:

“I see dead people.”

The Shreve Jewelry Company was at this corner since 1906. Although the engraving and marker are still on the building, Shreve moved to a different location on Post Street in 2015.  summerctownuse East meets East on Grant Avenue and California Street in 1939:

“He’s not going to post another Chinatown picture, is he?”

Sorry, it’s my O.C.D. (Obsessive Chinatown Disorder). Actually, this picture is interesting to me because of the hotel with the Japanese name Yamato in the middle of Chinatown, and the probability that when Pearl Harbor was bombed two years after the vintage photo was taken the name of that hotel was almost certainly changed. (Elizabeth Gray Potter)  summerofarrelluse Where O’Farrell Street, Market Street, and Grant Avenue come together in 1910: This is another of the comparisons I enjoy doing where the locations appear to have changed very little. Way down O’Farrell Street where the cameras are facing, St. Mary’s Cathedral can be seen in the modern picture. Pope John Paul II said Mass here on his visit to San Francisco in 1987.  summerplayitsamuse Most pictures of the Hyde Street cable car line to Aquatic Park are taken looking down from Russian Hill with its dramatic view. This is a rare look back up from the bottom of the hill as two cable cars begin their climb up Hyde. That’s Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in the top photo in a scene from the 1972 film ‘Play It Again, Sam’  summerusquareredouse Everybody makes mistakes. That’s why there are editors; except, they goofed here. In this picture of Union Square from Elizabeth Gray Potters’ 1939 book, ‘The San Francisco Skyline’, that’s not the Mark Hopkins Hotel on the left; it’s the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Ssshhhh!  summergentheuse Speaking of mistakes, I spotted one here that really surprised me. Arnold Genthe has been referred to as the father of modern photography. Before the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, Chinatown was a mysterious and forbidden place full of opium dens, brothels, and frequent shanghaiing. When Genthe went in and took his famous pictures he opened the door to the tourist trade that’s there today. The famous picture at the top right, circa 1900, from his book of Chinatown identifies the picture as being at Jackson and Dupont Street, which is now Grant Ave. I’ve even seen images of this photo with Genthe’s writing stating it was taken at Dupont and Jackson. When I took my first then and now photo earlier at Grant and Jackson something didn’t seem right. When you wander around San Francisco for as long as I have been doing you feel things. The cable car coming down Jackson Street made me curious, as well. I checked on every thing I could find about every cable car line that ran in San Francisco and the Jackson Line stopped at Powell and never came down to Dupont. It had to be Sacramento or Clay Street. I contacted a fellow at the Market Street Railway System and he said he’d look into it, and get back to me, which he did the next day. He said it couldn’t have been Jackson Street and must have been Sacramento, which I agree. Arney must have been tired when he labeled his picture that day from walking around Chinatown, and I can appreciate that. Here’s a last week of summer picture of the correct corner at Sacramento and Grant that I took today. The summer crowds have dropped off quite a bit, and in reference to the gift shop, the Warriors will be starting another season soon, and the Giants are still in the hunt for the playoffs next month.

North by Southeast

northturkeyuse That makes about as much sense as Hitchcock’s ‘North by Northwest’ but he got away with it! These are pictures of San Francisco from different points on the compass.

North: Fort Point in 1945. Aw, he took his turkey to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Now, there’s a pet lover!  (San Francisco Public Library)

northhydeuse Northeast: A cable car chugs up Hyde Street in the 1920’s and today. The old reservoir on the left is no longer in use. There’s normally a low amount of traffic on this stretch of Hyde, and I could stay for hours watching the cable cars go up and down the hill. Usually, more seem to head down the hill than up which might make one wonder if some are going into the Bay, but they just stack them up at the bottom of the hill.

northjacksonuse East: The view down Jackson Street from Mason looking east toward the Bay Bridge.

northscaruse Southeast: The worst accident in Muni’s history occurred at this intersection in 1918, just east from the Cow Palace. A streetcar lost it on, what is now, Geneva Avenue, and jumped the track as it made the turn here onto Schwerin. The utility power plant building, now owned by PG&E, is still in the corner.

northhearstuse South: This was the house on Morse Street in the Crocker Amazon District where Patty Hearst was captured by the F.B.I. in September of 1975. Hey, where did the Daily News get off by calling it “Frisco”?

northmomuse Southwest: I wasn’t even a naughty wink by my mom yet when this picture was taken. Here she is on the left with her cousin Frances  at the old Sloat Blvd. entrance to the San Francisco Zoo, then called Fleishhacker’s Zoo, in 1939 when she was 17. This old Works Progress Administration project from the 1930’s is fenced off now to visitors and the San Francisco Zoo doesn’t respond to requests concerning why; maybe, to protect it.

northkiddielanduse West: Balboa Street and the Great Highway at Playland-at-the-Beach. Balboa is the street going uphill on the left. Kiddieland was a portion of Playland with rides and attractions for children. This is about as west as you can go in San Francisco without getting wet, and even that isn’t guaranteed! (Western Neighborhood Project)

northpalacelegionuse Northwest: I couldn’t get their names, but these ancestors of the lady news anchors of today’s CNBC are reporting at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in the early 1930’s. (Voices out of the Fog)

‘Laughter on the Hill’

laughteropenuse In my August 1st 2016 post ‘Out in the Field’ I wrote about a book I had recently read called ‘Laughter on the Hill’ by Margaret Parton. In the book Margaret writes about a year she spent in San Francisco looking for a job just before Pearl Harbor. Although outdated, and the events of her social life and zany parties may seem dull at times compared to now or even the 1960’s life of Holly Golightly from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, her descriptions of, historical recaps about, and obvious affection for San Francisco makes the book an interesting story of the City in 1941. At times Margaret identifies her locations by name, but other times you have to use your knowledge of San Francisco to determine where she’s writing about. These are a few passages from her book pertaining to some of her adventures on Telegraph Hill.laughterwsquareuse Margaret’s search for a place to live in the second chapter ‘Gingerbread Versailles’ leads her to a run down house on Telegraph Hill. On the way, she passes what is obviously Washington Square in North Beach; I think the only fat old man with a red face in the park the day I took this picture was me!  laughterinion1use She crosses Union Street at Montgomery on the approach to Calhoun Terrace. Her description of the view from the cliff at Calhoun Terrace is still accurate today.

laughterunion2use Margaret moves into what she describes as a shack with a “pointed red roof outlined with white gingerbread carving” at this location. The building has a leaking roof, bad plumbing and is in overall poor shape. On the left is a cartoon from the book of where Margaret will spend her year in San Francisco, and in the middle of the picture on the right is the house today. The part about cutting down the level of the street and stranding the garages of the houses is amazing! Incidentally, the Michael Douglas character, Steve Keller from the television show ‘The Streets of San Francisco’ also lived in this house, and Lee Remick’s Kirsten Arnesen from ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’ lived just across the street.

laughterunion3use A photograph from the 1940’s of this location shows how accurate Margaret’s description was; the paint on the bay window of her “shack” didn’t match, and the garages here really were stranded from street work.


No detective work is necessary to find this location of one of Margaret’s adventures. After one of her late night drinking parties, her guests decide to walk down to Vanessis’s Restaurant on Broadway for a hamburger. One of the guests has an enormous St. Bernard dog that they don’t want to leave alone in Margaret’s house, so they take “Heidi” along. Big mistake! I’m not sure of the date of the top photograph, but it’s definitely Vanessis’s.

“Excuse me, miss, can you tell me if Vanessis’s is around here?”

Vanessis’s Restaurant closed in 1997.

Miss Burke’s School – Who was Constance? (For Holly)

Connieopenuse Earlier this week, I found a 1932-1933 Yearbook from Miss Burke’s School for girls at the bookstore in the San Francisco Main Library. I had never heard of the school, but the book was interesting as it has autographs from most of the high school senior girls graduating to a girl named Constance, who the yearbook belonged to. There was no Constance among the senior girls or the faculty, and none of the names of the students from the lower classes are in the yearbook. I became curious about who Constance, who must be long dead by now, was, and also about Miss Burke’s School.

Conniesignituresuse Nearly all of the thirty three graduating seniors had written loving and thoughtful sentiments to “Connie” and I learned from the autograph written by Frances Crosby Beedy at the lower left of the above picture that Constance was a freshman! Wow, when I was a freshman, asking a senior to sign your yearbook was a good way to get punched out! (I get a kick out of what Janice Sanborn in the upper right wrote. I’m going to have to borrow that sometime if I’m ever asked to autograph a yearbook.)

Conniefront This was the building on Jackson Street in the Pacific Heights District where Miss Burke’s School was in 1933. This is now the San Francisco University High School.

Constcourtyarduse The top picture was one of the pages of photographs from Connie’s yearbook. Four of the pictures were taken in the courtyard behind the main entrance. Holly Johnson, the Director of Alumni Relations at San Francisco University High School, was kind enough to send me a photograph of the courtyard today. The yearbook picture at the lower right is the closest to the current picture of the courtyard. The archways seen on the left of the main building, which were also on the other side of the courtyard, have been filled in with additional wings since then.

ConnieMarchtimeuse The March of Time events of the school year are a great time capsule. For instance, on March 9th the Intermediate IV class went to visit the Golden Gate Bridge. Construction on the bridge had only began two months earlier in January of 1933, so this would almost make them pioneers; one of the first groups of people to visit the Golden Gate Bridge! On March 24th, the school “swarmed down Lyon Street” to watch “Old Ironsides” come into the Bay. The USS Constitution did, indeed, sail into the Bay in March of 1933 ; something else I’m just learning from Constance’s yearbook. Check out the link below.

Connieswarmuse This would have been where the school “swarmed down Lyon Street” to get a glimpse of “Old Ironsides”. The building with the white dome is the Palace of Fine Arts. Behind it is the Bay.

Connieintelluse The Intelligence Test and Myths pages show that the girls had a wonderful sense of humor! I love “Work and answer 5 out of the 3 problems given below:”

Connie'spageuse The girls in Constance’s freshman class all signed on one separate page, and they tell us a lot about the young lady, such as that she had a crush on her Dramatics teacher, Ronald Telfer, her “silent love” and she slapped “Jimmy” in the face! I missed it when I first went through the yearbook, but she signed this page. Her name was Constance Crowley!


I found a text on the internet co given in 1994 by a Constance Crowley Bowles entitled ‘A California  Heritage: The Bowles Collection of 18th Century Porcelain’ and plowed through it until I found what I was looking for; Constance Bowles was born in 1919 and started high school at Miss Burke’s School in 1932. There was my girl, and she had still been alive in 1994, bless her heart!

Crowleycloseuse Constance had, indeed, gone far in life, and she only died a little over six months ago in February of 2016. She was 97. The link below has her obituary from SF Gate where this picture of her is from. Rest in peace, Connie.