Saturday, May 23, 2015

Vintage San Francisco

Hey, guess what, homies? My scanner died! It is now in heaven, scanning incredibly rare slides of Disneyland for angels. I can't even guess how many thousands of images that thing cranked out for me. I really had hoped that it would survive until I was done with my blog, but I guess I'll have to go out and buy another one. Should I get the $200 scanner, which will do the job (nicely, I'm sure), or go for broke and get the $700 scanner with all of the fancy bells and whistles? (I don't know why I need a whistle on a scanner, but I'll sleep better at night knowing that it's there). 

Anyway (sorry for the digression), for now I am stuck with the slides that I have already scanned. Luckily for me I was a good boy and have several hundred ready to go (patting myself on the head). Like today's vintage views of San Francisco; I have not spent a lot of time in that city, but it has its appeal. The photo below is from 1953, looking down a typical SF hill, toward the bay, with Alcatraz a little bit to our left. 

I didn't know where this was exactly, so I used Google Maps to see if I could figure it out. 

I found a street that seemed to point in the right direction (Taylor Street), pointing just toward the eastern edge of Alcatraz. Then I dropped the little Google man near the non-pointy end of the red arrow at the Green Street intersection).

And this is what the "street view" showed. Amazing! There is the same apartment building on the right, and everyone's favorite prison in the distance. The other buildings have changed somewhat, but it was super satisfying to have found just the right spot on the first try.

Next we have this neat view from November of 1948. That's almost 67 years ago! I love photos like this. That nice lady is standing in front of the Hotel Aldrich, near the 441 Club. This is Jones Street, right in the famed "Tenderloin" district. As always, I covet those vintage cars. It looks like there is some kind of hardware store to our left; imagine how neat it would be to roam the aisles if we could.

Here's the Google Maps view of how it is now; the Aldrich Hotel is still there, as is the 441 club (although I just looked it up, and it has recently closed - apparently it was quite a dive at the end). As is usually the case, Jones Street looks like it was a lot more fun decades ago!


Nanook said...


Some wonderful images of a great city. (I'm thinking the "Abbey ... Service" is perhaps Abbey Lock Service).

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

R.I.P. Major P's scanner. Thanks for all the wonderful images you have provided for us.

I love San Francisco. I was there last June and having been born and raised in CA, I'm a little embarrassed to say that that was my first time there. I need to go back!

I just got home from the 24 hour party at DL and I'm going to bed now....Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Chuck said...

We'll all miss that scanner and the many hours of enjoyment it provided. Farewell...

Great work with the map sleuthing!

And TM!, I am green with envy. Not only did you spend 24 hours in DL (a life-long fantasy of mine), you are asleep.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, we didn't make it the whole 24 hours. The party is still going on right now (until 6 a.m.) We made it until 5:30 a.m. last year! And I fell asleep in front of my computer after leaving the comment above, so now I am REALLY going to bed!

K. Martinez said...

I always considered San Francisco my town. I remember every year there was some sort of field trip from elementary school requiring a visit to San Francisco. Sometimes it was the Golden Gate Park with its Steinhart Aquarium, De Young Museum or Japanese Tea Garden. One time our class went to Treasure Island to tour onboard a Navy destroyer and have lunch at the mess hall. I loved that.

Another time and another class, we won a field trip to Alcatraz Island because we won a book drive. It was cool being one of the earliest to tour the island when it first opened. Great place.

In addition, I don't know how many countless times I've been there since as an adult. With it's expansive bay, the wonderful bridges and steep hills, San Francisco with its geography is still a beautiful city. Thanks for posting these Major.

TokyoMagic! Sounds like you had a great time. I'd love to hear about your experience at the 24 hour event. While I envy you, I honestly don't think I could pull an all niter anymore. I'm lucky if I can make it past the fireworks these days.

Major, Bless your scanner and may it rest in peace. It's given us a lot of joy through the years.

Unknown said...

There's a neat (to me) comparison in the before and after shots of Taylor Street. The good City of San Francisco (like so many other cities) has gone to the trouble of putting the utility poles underground! It's something I don't think about, since it's been so gradual, but the look of the streets these days sure is better.

Unknown said...

Added, there's a City Ice delivery truck out in front of the 441 Club. Do you suppose that neither a bar nor a hotel in 1948 had an ice machine of their own?

Nanook said...

@ Patrick Devlin-

I have a funny feeling you're on to something about ice machines back in 1948. It would appear commercial ice machines, of the variety which would be a part of the hospitality business, didn't appear until the 1950's. I never thought about that.

K. Martinez said...

Patrick Devlin, I find the before and after shots of Taylor Street neat too, but actually prefer the look of the old utility poles and cats cradle of wires above the streets. I'm a huge fan of older funky neighborhoods.

Speaking of ice trucks, does anyone know when they completely disappeared from the scene? I remember stories my dad told me about the old ice trucks that delivered large blocks of ice for the cooler box in the home. It sounded like such an interesting era back in the 1930/40's.

Nanook said...

@ Ken-

They all but disappeared due to the introduction of practical, affordable, mechanical refrigeration. And as previously-mentioned: ice machines for restaurants, bars, etc. The service still exists for large events at facilities not equipped for that occasional ice load.

K. Martinez said...

Thanks, Nanook. I do remember large blocks of ice being sold when I was a kid. We used to get an ice pick and break off chunks for our cold drinks. But that was in the 1960's if I remember correctly.

Sunday Night said...

Speaking of ice..we occasionally used to buy ice at a huge ice vending machine. As I recall there is one in the film American Graffiti in the liquor store scene. I remember you put in your money and listened as a block of ice rolled around inside the unit and slide out in a chute. I can't remember why we needed a big block of ice but there you go.

Anonymous said...

Re: Ice sales. One of my Dad's early jobs was working in the ice plant in the town where I grew up. We lived on the farm by the time I was born, but he said he had some shifts with them before he had enough land to farm full time.

The ice was delivered by horse and wagon at that time and he and mom got ice at the farm once a week. Long before my time, of course, but not really that long ago, and in the era of these pictures.

Refrigeration in central CA did not become common until the '50's, in spite of the Carousel of Progress...