Russian Hill

Cartoonopeneruse “The Crookedest Street in the World.” It’s a nice Jigsaw Puzzle picture, but cable cars don’t run on Leavenworth at the bottom, only Hyde at the top, and I don’t think that the residents on Lombard are that happy to see tourists.

COOLBRITHUSE A Downtown San Francisco painting of long ago from Ina Coolbrith Park: Legend has it that Russian Hill got its name when the early 49ers discovered the graves of seven Russian sailors while they explored the hill.

hydeunionuse Hyde at Union in the 1950’s:


Russian Hill has some of the most spectacular views in San Francisco! Here, two cable cars seem to teeter on the edge of disaster on Hyde Street in danger of sliding into the Bay.

hydegripuse Three views of cable cars on the “Hyde Street Grip” near Francisco Street:


The view down Broadway from Russian Hill is, absolutely, stunning!


Nob Hill from Russian Hill: You can see the Mark Hopkins Hotel on the left. The people here look over to Nob Hill and think, “Our hill is better!” while the people on Nob Hill look back and think, “Our hill is better!” It’s a vicious circle!


Unfortunately, the steepness of Russian Hill has caused some of the buildings here to topple over on their side! (I know, you guys are way too smart for me on this one!)  GreenwichHydebloguse Hyde at Greenwich on Russian Hill in 1949: The girl at the front of the cable car in the vintage picture looks like Carole Lombard, but she was gone by then.  (Mercer Photos)

lombardbloguse A visit to Russian Hill wouldn’t be complete without a drive down “the Crookedest Street in the World”, either in 2016 or in 1939. You can just make out Coit Tower to the right of the streetlamp in the vintage photo.

“Owld Telygraft Hill”

Telygraftopenerredo Telegraph Hill in the 1940’s (Gabriel Moulin Studios):

O Telygraft Hill, she sits proud as a queen
And th’ docks lie below in the glare
And th’ bay runs beyant ‘er all purple and green
Wid th’ ginger-bread island out there.

And the ferry boats toot at owld Telygraft Hill
And th’ hill it don’t care if they do
While the Bradys and Caseys av Telygraft Hill
Joos sit there enj’yin’ th’ view.
(From the 1904 poem by Wallace Irwin)

I took a visit to Telegraph Hill for Valentines Day. To me, Coit Tower at sunset is the most romantic spot in San Francisco. Of course, I’m usually alone when I’m up there, but it still counts.

crestuse The crest of Telegraph Hill before Coit Tower:

Pioneerparkuse The, rather, neglected area seen in the 1920’s that would become today’s Pioneer Park behind Coit Tower: (Bancroft Library)

balastradeuse The view of the Bay in 1927 from where the entrance to Coit Tower is now: (Dept. of Public Works)

Constructionuse Coit Tower under construction in 1933, and the finished Product today: I’ve got no complaints. (San Francisco Examiner)

Russianfromcoituse The northwest view from Coit Tower before the Golden Gate Bridge was built.

Calhounbelleuse A couple Civil War era belles, (“Take that Southern-belle simper off your face, Scarlett!”) watching a ship pass by in the Bay from Calhoun Terrace. They would have been somewhere behind where those houses are today. (Bancroft Library)

Calhounterraceuse Calhoun Terrace in the 1940’s: A lot of movie scenes have been filmed here, including ‘Vertigo’ and ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’ and right across the street from where I’m at was Michael Douglas’s pad in the TV show ‘The Streets of San Francisco’.

Calhounviewuse The view from Calhoun Terrace in 1955: Sometimes, I’ll find myself standing in the exact same spot that the photographer of the vintage picture stood long ago. I’ll wonder to myself, “Who was the person? What was he or she like? What was going on in their world at the time? Did this person look out at the view and reflect on the moment as deeply as I do sometimes?”

pier23use Pier 23 from Telegraph Hill in 1939: That’s the Treasure Island World’s Fair with its Sun Tower across the Bay.  Telygraftcolumbususe The dedication of the Columbus Statue in the Coit Tower parking lot in October of 1957: The view is from the top of the tower. (San Francisco History Center)

KearnyDodause Kearny Street coming down to Broadway in 1971: Another moment of reflection for Carol Doda, who died in 2015.


Fwowback Fwiday

GingerbreadChristieuse One the best pictures of the old gingerbread Cliff House I’ve seen! There’s something contemporary about the old picture even though it had to be taken before 1907 when that Cliff House burned down.  FWOdirtyuse The Dirty Dozen, minus one. I have no idea what military outfit these guys represented at the Ferry Building just after the 1906 Earthquake. This picture shows the damage done to the building.  shorpyscityhallbloguse A Shorpy picture from the 1920’s at City Hall. My friend, film historian and author Mark Vieira, pointed out to me that the church in the far right of the old shot is the St. Paulus  Lutheran Church on Eddy Street at Gough that burned down in 1995. This church can be seen in the films ‘Greed’, ‘Vertigo’ and ‘The Man Who Cheated Himself’. fwojsquareuse Historic Jackson Square at Montgomery and Jackson Streets: These buildings survived the 1906 Earthquake because of their brick and iron construction. At the far right in the old picture was the Montgomery Block Building, (the Monkey Block) at 628 Montgomery Street. Built in 1853. Tt was a favorite hangout for poets and authors the likes of Jack London, Bret Harte, and Mark Twain. The building was demolished in 1959, and the Transamerica Pyramid Building occupies the spot today.  Fwohardbodiesuse “Hardbodies” of the summer of 1940: This shocking display of skin was at the west side of the Marina Yacht Harbor seen below this winter. The old stone lighthouse can be seen in the background of both pictures. (Cushman Collection)  Fwoomniuse The Ghirardelli Omnibus Tour of Fisherman’s Wharf was very popular in the 1960’s, and was even featured in an episode of the television show ‘I Spy’ starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby!  ggparktunneluse The main pedestrian walkway from Haight-Ashbury into Golden Gate Park goes through the old Alvord Bridge Tunnel built in 1889. Everybody, from George Harrison to Timothy Leary walked through this tunnel to get to ‘Hippie Hill’.  fwogdeaduse The Grateful Dead house, 710 Ashbury Street: I see Jerry Garcia, but the caption says that Janis Joplin and members of the Jefferson Airplane are in the photo too. You’ll have to have keener eyes than mine to spot them.  Strawhilluse In 1891, Sweeney’s Observatory opened up on top of Strawberry Hill at Stowe Lake in Golden Gate Park, and was popular at the time for its panoramic views. The observatory crumbled in the 1906 Earthquake, and this is all that’s left of the building today.  Armychaletuse The 78th Coast Artillery camping out behind the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park in October of 1941. They would be awful busy defending the West Coast two months later. This Area is now the renovated Soccer Fields. (San Francisco Public Labrary)

Back to Normal

normalferry1915use Yesterday, San Francisco was once again “Everybody’s favorite city,” Now that the Super Bowl is over things will get back to normal, and, hopefully, most visitors will leave with nice memories of the City. This was the spot where Super Bowl City was held seen in 1915, and in 2015. You’ll be able to walk through this area again without having to go through security check points, although, they did a wonderful job and kept everybody safe.  NormalFinancialuse You’ll be able to drive through the financial district again like you could in the 1920’s  Normaldoggieuse

You’ll be able to get a table in restaurants again, even the fast food ones. This MacDonald’s was once a Doggie Diner. It was also in this spot where Clint Eastwood used the legendary expression, “Go ahead, make my day!” in the 1983 film ‘Sudden Impact’. That’s the Lefty O’Dould Bridge next to AT&T Park in the background.  NormalBernaluse In the shadow of Bernal Heights: Unfortunately, gas prices will never be back to normal in San Francisco, regardless.  (The Cushman Collection)NormalHydegripuse  On the “Hyde Street Grip” cable cars will still climb “halfway to the stars” as normal. That’s the old O’Farrell line coming up Hyde.  scenery And something that’s always normal; the interesting scenery you pass by when riding on a cable car!



The Ferry Building

FerryOpeneruse It’s been damaged by two major earthquakes, eaten by a giant octopus, and, probably, appeared in more motion pictures than any other building in the United States except for the Capitol Building in Washington and the Los Angeles City Hall Building. The Ferry Building is a survivor, and, easily, the “Grande Dame” of San Francisco.  (Vintage photo California Historical Society)

Ferryaerialuse Two aerial views of the Ferry Building: The top one is in her hey day showing many of the ferry slips, and below, a rare shot of the Embarcadero Freeway under construction. (Bancroft Library)

Ferryemissionuse Repair work in 1907 on the Ferry Building, damaged in the 1906 Earthquake. Things seem to be getting back to normal with encouraging signs like, “Open For Business” and “San Francisco Will Do it.” That black smoke in the background is from a ferryboat, either arriving or leaving. I don’t think those things would pass emission testing today. (Vintage photo San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park)

ferryexcusemeuse The southern wing of the Ferry Building on a busy day in 1907:
“Excuse me. Pardon me. Can I get across here?” (Vintage photo Marilyn Blaisdell Collection)

FerryEaststbloguse Another terrific and one of the oldest postcards of San Francisco I’ve seen; the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building tower when it was still called East Street. That’s Telegraph Hill on the left, and Alcatraz out in the Bay.

Ferry1915redouseAt the foot of the Ferry Building looking south in 1915:  (Vintage photo San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park)

ferrysinbadsuse The Ferry Building from the south in 1929: Look at that ferryboat traffic! That’s a Coit Towerless Telegraph hill in the vintage photo. (Vintage photo San Francisco Maritime Historic Park)

ferryinsideuse The inside of the Ferry Building in the 1930’s (San Francisco Public Library)

ferryfbridge1use Interesting Ferry Building history that I recently learned of: The north side of the building had what was called an “apron” that lowered down to the top deck of the arriving ferry boats to allow passengers to enter the Ferry Building into the upper level where they went through a corridor, and crossed over the Embarcadero to Market Street by the footbridge seen in many old photos. (Vintage photo Thomas I. J. Snead)

ferryfbridge2use The passenger footbridge seen from the Embarcadero: (Marilyn Blaisdell Collection)

ferryfbridge3use This 1942 photo was taken on the last day of the foot bridge before it was dismantled for salvageable war material. The doughboy soldier was there to symbolize 1918 when the bridge first opened.

Falconblogoneuse ‘The Falcon in San Francisco’ Oops, wait a minute…… ‘The Falcon in San Francisco’

FerryFalcon2use The Falcon (Tom Conway) being “kidnapped” by a little girl in front of the Ferry Building: It was, probably a backdrop, but that was the location in the film.

Ferrytracroeuse This strip of shops directly across from the Ferry Building bordered by Market, Mission, Steuart, and the Embarcadero was demolished to make way for the Embarcadero Freeway. Although patronized regularly by ferry boat passengers, this block had developed into a skid row by the 1950’s. The shady palm tree area was where the stretch of buildings stood. This was where the Occupy San Francisco movement camped at the end of 2011. (Vintage photo San Francisco Public Library)

ferrycolchesteruse The Hotel Colchester, just north of the Ferry Building in the 1950’s: Somebody put a lot of artistic effort into that LAUNdRY sign. Below, is the spot that the glamorous Colchester Hotel occupied. (Vintage photo California Historical Society)

Ferrycommercialuse Commercial Street in the 1950’s when it ran through to the Ferry Building. (Vintage photo Karl Kortum)

ferrybehinduse Eventually, the area behind the Ferry Building had become a graveyard of parked 1950’s and 1960’s cars. The Sausalito Ferry launch occupies this location today. (Port of San Francisco Archives)

ferryimprisionuse Like the people of France toward Marie Antoinette, the people of San Francisco turned on their queen and imprisoned her behind the Embarcadero Freeway in 1959. Boy that’s corny writing! (Vintage photo Darius Aidala)

Ferrydemolishuse The last of the shabbiness of this area disappeared in 1991 with the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway due to the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. (Fran Ortiz)

“Oot ‘n’ aboot” in the City.

Weilandredouse “OH MY! BUT WIELAND’S BEER IS GOOD!” I wouldn’t know, they stopped brewing the beer created by the German immigrant John Wieland in the 1930’s. I always liked this 1905 picture at Sutter and Market Streets. As well as a wonderful period piece, I’ve wondered how many of these people were still alive a year later after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. Center, is the same location today. At bottom, is and old Wieland’s Beer advertisement that can still be seen today on the Old Ship Saloon on Pacific Ave. ( Hey, that crazy driver is heading up Lombard Street the wrong way! Actually, it’s Vermont Street on Potrero Hill; San Francisco’s real “Crookedest Street in the World”. Check out the Wikipedia link here. Melsdriveinbloguse Don’t let anyone tell you that the Mel’s Drive-in scenes from the 1973 movie ‘American Graffiti’ weren’t filmed in San Francisco because they were. Although the hangout was closed up and slated to be demolished, George Lucas had it reopened for the movie scenes. The drive-in was knocked down after the movie was filmed. At the upper right, actors Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, and Charlie Martin Smith on the set. Below left was a discrimination protest during the 1960’s at Mel’s. At bottom right, is 140 South Van Ness, where Mel’s used to be. Filmoredemobloguse An anti Vietnam War protest at Fillmore and Fulton in 1967: The City Hall Building is in the background.  cantaliveruse Heading west to Yerba Buena Island and San Francisco on the old Cantilever section of the Bay Bridge, something we’ll never do again in this lifetime.  Proclamationbloguse     An old proclamation asking visitors not to come to crowded San Francisco during World War Two. I’m sure they came anyway.  Supercitybloguse Quite a different welcoming for visitors from Super Bowl City at the foot of Market Street, which opened on January 30, 2016: At the lower right are two of my tykes in 2002 where Super Bowl City is today.

At the Movies

AtMoviesfacebookuse ‘Bullitt’ wasn’t the only movie filmed in San Francisco to include a chase scene. In the upper left side of this movie collage is a chase scene from Buster Keaton’s 1922 film, ‘Daydreams’. In a Keystone Cop-like scene, San Francisco police chase Buster north on Powell Street across Washington on the edge of Chinatown. This spot looks, remarkably, the same ninety six years later! In the upper right hand corner, Jack Lemmon squeaks his Thunderbird past a cable car at the Taylor and Bay turntable in the 1964 movie, ‘Good Neighbor Sam’. The view is blocked now, but a 76 gas station is still on the right side corner, and it you look close, you can see the Cost Plus Imports sign, still in business here, behind the gas station. At lower left is a chase scene down the Alta Plaza steps from the 1972 movie ‘What’s up, Doc?’ with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. This scene was filmed without the permission of the City of San Francisco, and caused damage to the steps, still visible today. At lower right, probably, my favorite scene from a Clint Eastwood movie. Clint runs into the old Fort Mason train tunnel carrying ransom money in the 1971 movie ‘Dirty Harry’ and encounters three hoods who try to rob him. Big mistake! “You don’t listen, do you, ass++++!” The old train tunnel is now closed off.

Catching rays between drops

jacksonsquareuse The historic Jackson Square in the 1950’s: “We’re number one!” So, there’s the little guy who invented that! (Phil Palmer) 802montgomeryuse Montgomery and Jackson in the 1920’s. A Globe Beer sounds good!bakerstuse Baker Street from the Palace of Fine Arts Lagoon in the 1950’s (Phil Palmer)  Ybuena1971 “The light at the end of the tunnel.” Coming west out of the Yerba Buena Tunnel in the Summer of 1971.


Super Sunday soon! Alamo Square: San Francisco is getting ready for the first Bay Area Super Bowl in thirty one years.

‘Dark Passage’

DPassageGGBridgeuse I’ve covered this film before, but I watched it again the other night, and it always reminds me of what a pleasure this 1947 movie is for San Francisco lovers! It’s not, necessarily, a well made movie, some of the scenes are, downright, weird, and the doctor who does the plastic surgery on Humphrey Bogart is creepier than Freddy Krueger, but for vintage San Francisco locations it’s at the top of the list.

dpassagetoll Near the opening scenes, Lauren Bacall picks up an escaped murderer from San Quentin, nicknamed, “Mad Dog” Parry, in her woodie and believing in his innocence, sneaks him across the Golden Gate Bridge to her apartment on Telegraph Hill. People end up dead around Bogie all through this movie, and Bacall, trustingly, continues to believe his innocence. Why can’t I meet a girl like that! Here, she smuggles him through the old Art Deco toll booths, (now obsolete) past a police roadblock.

Dpassagethillredo Bacall pulls up to her apartment at 1360 Montgomery Street. A number of scenes were filmed in and around this building for the movie. It is said that Lauren Bacall lived in these apartments before breaking into the movies.

Dpassageblogone Near the end of the film, a small-time blackmailer tries to kidnap Bogart, who drives the hood to a spot under the Golden Gate Bridge to…… straighten things out. This spot is now off limits to the public since the 9/11 attacks.

Darkpassageggbcliffuse After a struggle for a gun with the blackmailer causes the punk to fall from the bluff under the bridge, Bogie looks down reflecting that he now knows who killed his wife and framed him, sending him to prison; it’s Agnes Moorehead. “Oh, darn it, Tim; you spoiled the ending for us!” Well, of course, it’s Agnes Moorehead, it’s not going to be Lauren Bacall!

dpassagegreenwich After he accidentally kills Agnes Moorehead, (There seems to be a pattern here!) Bogie hops on a speeding cable car at Hyde and Greenwich. A cable car’s top speed is about nine miles an hour, but he still makes his getaway. “Mad Dog” Parry has a rendezvous with Lauren in South America where they lived happily ever after. I hope he didn’t accidentally kill her too!

More San Francisco in 1949

1949horsetradersuse Putting on the feedbag with a few horse traders at the Stock Exchange Building at Sansome and Pine Streets:  1949Fifiuse “Now, stay there, Fifi!”
As if “Fifi” wasn’t bad enough, it’s a boy! The now closed Xanadu Gallery in Maiden Lane is the only building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in San Francisco.  1949spotsuse “Nice looking dog! Let me guess, its name is “Spot”. Right?”
“No, “Checks”. Did I make a mistake?”
1949SunYetuse I love this picture; a couple of bobby sox artists near the statue of Sun Yat-sen in St. Mary’s Square.  Crosbyuse The following were some of San Francisco’s prominent 1949 visitors.
Bing: I don’t think anybody ever gave San Francisco a nicer comment!  Hopeuse Bob: The same in real life as he was in his movies!  Elenoreuse Class is where you find it.  Cantorusetwo Old Banjo-Eyes was a little weird!  Wrightuse He was a great architect, but he sure wasn’t very imaginative when it came to verbal praise!