Sunday, November 19, 2017

San Francisco then & now, part two: November 2017

Click on an image to see the full-size photograph.

THEN: This five-story office building was built in 1888. It was located on Market Street in downtown San Francisco; the cross street was O'Farrell Street. The building was constructed by James D. Phelan.

THEN: The Phelan Building was destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent fires of 18 April 1906. This photo was taken two days after the earthquake.

THENThis is the replacement Phelan Building, it was constructed on the same site as the original Phelan Building. This photo was taken in 1908. The building's architect was William Curlett.

NOWHere is a view of the Phelan Building one hundred and nine years after its construction. It is an 11-story office building located at 760 Market Street.

THEN: The San Francisco College for Woman was constructed on the crest of Lone Mountain in the early 1930s. The school was founded by the Roman Catholic Church. The name of the school was changed to Lone Mountain College in 1969. In 1978 the school was intergrated within the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit-Catholic institution. Lone Mountain was part of a large San Francisco cemetery complex which originated in the 1850s. This picture is circa the 1930s.

NOW: The school is now a part of the University of San Francisco. This view is looking south.

THEN: This building is known as San Francisco's Flatiron Building. It is located at 540 Market Street at Sutter Street. The structure was built in 1913. The photograph is circa the 1930s.

NOWThe Flatiron Building is a ten story building, and it is San Francisco Landmark #155.

THEN: This photo was taken from 24th Street near York Street in the Mission DistrictThe year is 1938, and the view is looking east. A 35-Howard line streetcar is rolling west on Twenty-fourth Street. In the distance is Potrero Hill, and on the right is the Roosevelt Theatre. The theatre opened on 22 September 1926. Most of the buildings visible in this eighty-year-old photo are still standing today. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Remembered

NOW: Streetcars are no longer rolling up and down Twenty-fourth Street. The Roosevelt Theatre was renamed the York Theatre in the 1950sThe York Theatre closed in the 1993.  It reopened in December 2000, and is now known as the Brava Woman's Theater Arts, a venue that is primarily a performing arts center.

THEN: The Tower Theatre opened on Mission Street in 1912 as the Majestic Theatre. It was a two-story, 870-seat theatre. It was renamed the Tower Theatre in 1942. By the 1960s the theatre had become the home of Spanish-language films. The theatre closed in 1996; it later became a church. This photo was taken in 1964.

NOW: The church moved out of the building in 2006. This is a current view of the Tower Theatre building. Yes, there is still hope for the building's survival.

THEN:  William Tecumseh Sherman, a future American Civil War general who served in the Union Army, supervised the construction of this building between 1853-1854. The Bank of Lucas, Turner and Company became the first occupants of the building in 1854. The structure's facade faces Montgomery Street, the main San Francisco business street at the time. The 1906 Earthquake damaged the third floor of the building, and the third floor was removed. The building is San Francisco Landmark #26, and California Historical Landmark #453This photo is circa 1934.

NOW: The building is located at 800 Montgomery Street. It has housed restaurants, a bank, a sausage factory, a soy sauce factory, apartments, a carpenter shop, and numerous other tenants over the last one hundred and sixty-three years.

THEN: This building is located at 701 Montogomery Street at Columbus Avenue. It was built in 1909 for the Fugazi Bank. The bank was eventually acquired by the Bank of Italy, and in 1938 the building became the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation. The building is San Francisco Landmark #52. The photo is circa the 1920s.

NOW: The building is presently occupied by the Church of Scientology. 

THENEl Capitan Theatre opened at 2353 Mission Street on 29 June 1928. Decreasing ticket sales brought about its demise on 15 December 1957. The theatre's auditorium was demolished in 1961. The theatre's facade remained because it was an integral part of the El Capitan Hotel, which is still in business today. After the theatre's auditorium was demolished the owner converted the auditorium's location to a parking lot. This photo is circa 1933.

NOW: Here is a view of the El Capitan Hotel and the facade remnant of the El Capitan Theatre. This is San Francisco Landmark #214.

NOWThis scene shows a view of the parking lot which now occupies the site of the theatre's auditorium.

THEN: This commercial waterfront building was constructed in 1889 by Hippolyte d'Audiffred. The building is located at 1 Mission Street; it is near the Ferry Building, and the cross street is the Embarcadero. It is fortuitous that the building survived the 18 April 1906 fires. This photo is circa 1906.

NOW: The structure is now known as the Audiffred Building. It is San Francisco Landmark #7 and is National Register #79000528.

THEN: The New Mission Theatre opened on 14 May 1916; it is located at 2550 Mission Street. The New Mission vertical sign has been a Mission Street landmark for over seventy years. This photo is circa 1943.

NOW: The New Mission Theatre closed in 1993, and it became the location of a furniture store. The theatre building was eventually purchased by City College of San Francisco, which proposed to demolish the building and construct a new college campus on the site of the theatre. There was a strong lobbying effort to save the theatre. The endeavors taken to keep the theatre were successful, and the theatre reopened in December 2015. The building is San Francisco Landmark # 245.

GO HERE to view part one of San Francisco then & now.

“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lang 

The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view these photo galleries.

Thanks to Catherine Accardi for writing San Francisco Landmarks.

Thanks to Jack Tillmany for writing Theatres of San Francisco

 Thanks to Market Street Railway.  

A Sony camera was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at

Sunday, November 5, 2017

San Francisco then & now, part one: November 2017

Click on an image to see the full-size photograph.

THENThis is San Francisco City Hall under construction. Construction began in 1913 and was completed in 1915. Arthur Brown Jr. was the architect who designed the building. The camera that took this picture was attached to a kite; the camera's shutter was actuated by the photographer via a cable, while the photographer was standing on the ground. The camera could snap only one picture at a time. The photographer would have to reel in the kite, remove the exposed photographic image from the camera, then install a new, unexposed piece of film in the camera and relaunch the kite if he or she wanted to take another photographThis photo was snapped in 1915. 

NOW: San Francisco City Hall as seen today. It took two years to build this structure. This building was constructed after the previous San Francisco City Hall was destroyed in the Great Earthquake and Fire of 18 April 1906. An earthquake of 7.1 magnitude struck on 17 October 1989 and damaged the current city hall so severely that the dome itself moved four full inches. Repairs and restoration were completed in 1999. An earthquake safety enhancement called a base isolator system was installed within the building. A base isolator system absorbs shocks and movement at a building's foundation, which will hopefully protect the integrity of the above structure.

THENSan Francisco War Memorial Veterans Building, 25 April 1945. On this day in San Francisco, representatives of 46 nations met to discuss the creation of the United Nations, an international organization intended to maintain peace between nations. The conference began as troops from the United States, and the Soviet Union linked up on the Elbe River, in central Europe, a meeting that dramatized the collapse of Nazi Germany and the end of World War II in Europe.The San Francisco Conference lasted two months and eventually included 50 countries.
The leaders at the conference confirmed the organization of the United Nations and drafted the United Nations Charter, which was signed at the War Memorial Veterans Building by President Truman and other heads of state on 26 June 1945. The building was designed by Arthur Brown Jr., and was dedicated on Armistice Day, 11 November 1932.

NOW: The War Memorial Veterans Building is now commonly known as Herbst TheatreDistinguished as the site of the United Nations Charter signing in 1945, the building is now the primary venue for some of the Bay Area's premier cultural organizations. The 892-seat auditorium has been renovated, and it contains murals painted by Frank Brangwyn for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
THEN: The Geary Car House in 1918. This building was the first San Francisco Municipal Railway streetcar storage and maintenance facility. It was built in 1912 as a single story building. The second floor was added in 1915. The building ceased being a streetcar facility after the Geary public transit lines were converted from electric streetcars to electric buses in 1956. Muni built the Presidio Division bus yard behind the Geary Car House in 1949. This photo shows Muni Superintendent Fred Boeken at the Geary Car House in 1918. Behind him are the first five gasoline-powered buses purchased by the City of San Francisco.

NOWThis is the Geary Car House building today. It is still being used by the San Francisco Municipal Railway. The Presidio Division bus facility is located behind this building.

NOWThis is a view of the Presidio Division electric bus yard. It is located at the rear of the Geary Car House. Many electric buses are parked in the lot on this, a Sunday morning.

THEN: The Coliseum Theatre opened on 22 November 1918. It is in the Richmond District of San Francisco and is located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Clement Street and 9th Avenue. The theatre was severely damaged by the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 20 October 1989. This picture is circa 1942.

NOW: Here is the Coliseum Theatre building today. The building was rebuilt with condominium apartments upstairs and a Walgreen Drug Store on the first floor, after the 1989 earthquakeIt appears that the theatre's auditorium was reconstructed to contain two floors of apartments.

THEN: The Alexandria Theatre opened on 26 November 1923. It is located in the Richmond District on the northwest corner of the intersection of Geary Boulevard and 18th Avenue. Long-run, reserved-seat roadshow attractions became its trademark, beginning in 1958 with a 48-week showing of the movie South Pacific. The theatre closed in 2004 because of decreasing ticket sales, and faced an uncertain future. This picture is circa 1942.

NOW: The Alexandria Theatre has remained closed from 2004 to now. After years of discussions, proposals, and counter-proposals, an agreement was reached by the parties involved, and the Alexandria Theatre is currently in the midst a significant upgrade. The theatre's parking lot was located behind the theatre. You can now see a condominium apartment building under construction at that locale. It will be a four-story building with forty-three one, two and three bedroom units. The theatre building is scheduled to be converted to a swim center and office spaces.
THEN: This photo was taken on 1 November 1917; 100 years ago. The photograph was taken by an employee of the San Francisco Municipal RailwayThe location is at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. The brick building on the left side of the photo is now the site location of the California Public Utilities Commission. The view is looking northeast, across Van Ness Avenue. This picture is courtesy of Market Street Railway, which wrote an interesting and informative review about this photograph.

NOW: Here is the view from the corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street, 100 years later. There is now a big hulking building in the background, unfortunately. The original apartment building is visible, and it appears to look the same today as it did 100 years ago.

NOW: The California Public Utilities Commision building is located on a parcel of land which is just out of view in the two Van Ness and McAllister photos as seen above. In this photo, you can see a Muni electric powered bus on McAllister Street, just below Van Ness Avenue. The bus is on the same route that was used 100 years ago by electrically powered streetcars. The concrete pole in front of the California Public Utilities Commision building appears to be the same concrete pole as seen in the above picture that was taken 100 years ago.

Rosa Parks mural. I happened upon Rosa Parks Elementary School during this ramble. The school is located on O'Farrell Street at Hollis Street. This beautiful mural, painted on an exterior school wall, caught my eye. The artist is Santie Huckaby.

The distance traveled was approximately 7.8 miles (12.5 kilometers). Mile markers are displayed on the GPS generated track. Click on the image to see the full-size map.

GO HERE to view part two of San Francisco then & now.

“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lang 

The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view these photo galleries.

Thanks to Catherine Accardi for writing San Francisco Landmarks.

Thanks to Jack Tillmany for writing Theatres of San Francisco

 Thanks to Market Street Railway.  

A Sony camera was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at