Flannery Building to Fishermans Wharf: 5 Favorites

by Woody LaBounty

We put online, on average, 300 historical images each week. With more than 25,000 scans now on OpenSFHistory, it’s difficult to sift through the riches. Below, from just the 333 most recently posted, I have chosen five (really six) great San Francisco views.

This batch contains a lot of early and later commercial views from photographers such as Isaiah West Taber, Eadweard Muybridge, and Zan Stark, images that were frequently published at stereoviews and postcards. Some are numbing in their familiarity (the cable car turnaround on Powell… again), while others are delightful surprises (check out the Hammam Turkish Baths on Grant Avenue). It was hard to chose just five, but here we go:

Flannery Building, circa 1883

Market and Geary, circa 1883.
I have always had a soft spot for this little office building that stood on the gore between Market and Geary. Built in 1867, it hosted a series of dentists, cafes, and news stands across from Lotta’s Fountain while larger and larger skyscrapers, such as the Chronicle and Call buildings, rose around it. (wnp37.01786, copy negative courtesy of a private collector.)

Here it is rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake and fire, with the Mutual Bank Building trying (and failing) to intimidate it (wnp37.01526, copy negative courtesy of a private collector.):
Market and Geary, circa 1907.

Palace of Fine Arts, circa 1935

Tennis match, circa 1935.
Looks like a mixed doubles match is in progress inside the Palace of Fine Arts. Since the Exploratorium left the building, there have been some struggles to find a proper use for the cavernous hall adjoining the beautiful dome, colonnade, and lagoon from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Maybe indoor sports is the answer? (wnp37.01775, copy negative courtesy of a private collector.)

Calvary Church, circa 1875

Cavalry Church, circa 1875.
At one time, the northwest corner of Geary and Powell, facing Union Square, was a serene place for a church. But the busy city grew westward, and the leaders of Cavalry Presbyterian, who had already moved the church once, took apart the whole structure—one million bricks—and rebuilt it on the corner of Fillmore and Jackson Streets, where it still stands today. Now the St. Francis Hotel rises from this very busy corner. (wnp37.01597, Eadweard Muybridge photograph, copy negative courtesy of a private collector.)

Masonic and Fulton, circa 1890

Masonic and Fulton, circa 1890
Yes, at one time you could take a cable car all the way west to Masonic and Fulton. The site of the facilities of the Market Street Cable Railway, then a very undeveloped locale, is now in the heart of the city near the University of San Francisco. (wnp37.01668, copy negative courtesy of a private collector.)

Fishermans Wharf, circa 1930s

OK, maybe yet another shot of the iconic tourist destination isn’t terribly exciting, but I love the composition of this photograph, the little girl, and the simple way the Castagnola Brothers display their catch on the tables. (wnp37.01744, copy negative courtesy of a private collector.)

Take a look at all 333 recently-uploaded images. If you have a correction, comment, or can help us identify the location of our current mystery shots (which street is this parade on?), just click on the button that says “Contact us about this image” in the right column.