Saturday, January 25, 2014

San Francisco, 1943

Today I have two neat photos from San Francisco, taken in 1943 - right in the middle of the second world war.

After the great earthquake of 1906 destroyed so much of San Francisco, people thronged to the bars, cafes and nightclubs that could be found on Pacific Street (earning it the nickname "Terrific Street"). By World War Two, the place was already on the decline; in an effort to revitalize the area, two large signs reading "International Settlement" were erected. I love the sign advertising "Tire Ration Service".  

Here's a postcard that must predate the photo. In 1957, the film Pal Joey starring Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak was shot on that street. Not long afterwards, the clubs and bars started to close, replaced with offices and warehouses.

Doing a street-view search on Google Maps shows this contemporary view. The building on the left still looks very much like it did in the first picture.

And how can you visit San Fran without seeing a cable car? This one is on Powell Street. Notice the brick-lined street - and the awesome old automobiles.


Nanook said...


It would almost appear as if 7up sponsored International Settlement. And any place calling itself the "The House of Zombie" gets my vote.

Thanks, Major.

Nancy said...

Very cool! love the colors of the postcard. nowadays I like when I see buildings not torn down, tho the businesses are normally long gone. at least it is something toward historic preservation!

I agree with Nanook...zombies get my nod every time!

hope one day to visit this city. thanks for these great shots. :-)

K. Martinez said...

San Francisco is like Disneyland for me. I have more fondness for the City as it was in the 1960s and 1970s than I do now. Most of the neighborhoods have changed and all the old stores, shops and restaurants that I used to love and frequent are gone.

Nancy - How ironic. I've been to San Francisco a zillion times because I live nearby, but never have I been to Pittsburgh. And Pittsburgh is a city I've always wanted to visit. I had a friend who was from there, who beamed with pride when he talked about his hometown of Pittsburgh.

Omnispace said...

Interesting, I never knew about International Settlement and I worked very close to Pacific Avenue. Still a lot of interesting little businesses tucked away in the Jackson Square area though they seem to come and go.

The "now" photo shows a fundamental change in the look of San Francisco. I've talked to long time residents who remember it as a "pastel" city -- basically no trees. Good or bad, the planting of laurel trees everywhere have really transformed its appearance.

Many of the streets in SF have granite cobblestones hiding under the asphalt. A lot of the curbs are granite.

Melissa said...

I love all the old signs! I was thinking how weird it was that McKale's and McHale's were so close together before I realized it was a case of EXTREME ART DECO FONT!

"TARS formerly PARENTES formerly THE HOUSE OF ZOMBIE" has a great ring to it, but you'd have to take out an extra mortgage for the sign.

I still get that damn Rice-A-Roni jingle stuck in my head sometimes. If I could go in and reassign all the space in my brain devoted to remembering ad jingles from when I was a kid to things like remembering to pay bills, the world would be a batter place.

Nanook said...


Perish the thought-! As jingles are what keeps the synapses in what laughingly passes for my brain, very much alive. To wit:

"We're doing our Christmas shopping
at Robert Hall this year.
We're saving on clothes for Christmas
at Robert Hall this year.
More quality and low prices
and gifts for one and all.
For the largest selection
here's a suggestion
Where America goes for family clothes
it's Robert Hall this year".

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I don't know if they sponsored the International Settlement, or if they just paid for some premium advertising space. And yes, "The House of Zombie" is pretty damn cool!

Nancy, those old "linen" postcards are great… I sure have a lot of 'em.If you ever get to go to SanFran I think you'll like it.

K. Martinez, I remember going to SF with my family when I was a little kid, and being intrigued by some psychedelic posters that I saw in a shop window. I wish I could recall exactly what the posters were… maybe they were for the Fillmore.

Omnispace, I didn't know about it either; that's one of the fun things about the vintage slides. If you look at photos of almost any landmark in SF from long ago and compare it to today, you will find that the modern views are obscured by large trees. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Trees are great! But it's a bummer to not be able to see the buildings.

Melissa, those signs are awesome, aren't they? I can't tell if the postcard image is from one block down (see the other "International Settlement" sign?), since the buildings do look a little bit different. Rice-A-Roni, do they still advertise? Maybe on daytime TV during soap operas and game shows.

Nanook, that's one that I don't recall, though I probably heard it back in the day...