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Police and Fire Departments Battle Over Christmas Cheer

Public spaces change fast here in San Francisco, and for better or worse, it can be pretty crazy when you see what the City used to look like. Every week, we'll bring you Then & Now, a comparison of historic photos of the Bay Area with current views from the same perspective. Have a suggestion for a photo comparison that looks totally different (or shockingly the same)? Drop us a tip in the Curbed Inbox or leave a comment after the jump.

Quick note: See that vertical green bar in the middle of the then and now photos? You can move it horizontally to see the photos side by side.

[Then photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY/ Now photo: Taylor Davidson] Before you yell at us, we realize these two photos aren't from the same angle. But this is the last Then & Now before Christmas, and we really wanted to showcase the tree that gave Christmas Tree Point on the top of Twin Peaks its name (even if we couldn't get a matching photo).

In 1948, the San Francisco Fire Department held its first annual Christmas decoration contest, offering up $1,000 and a gold trophy to the firehouse with the best decorations. For three years, firemen used limited budgets to create some pretty spectacular displays, even by today's whacked-out standards. In 1950, the Fire Chief worked out a 54-mile route that went past all the firehouses, with free MUNI bus rides were provided for children over three nights and candy breaks set up at firehouse rest stops.

The firemen rightfully got a lot of fame for the effort, and in 1951, the policemen of San Francisco took up the challenge and decided to put up a gigantic Christmas tree on Twin Peaks. The site became the city's official Christmas tree. In the years that followed, the city built the viewing area and parking lot on the site, making tourists very happy and tour bus drivers very not.
· San Francisco Firehouses Celebrate Christmas 1948 - 1950 [Outside Lands]
· The Lumberjack, vol 78 [Google Books]
· San Francisco Fire Department Historical Holiday Cards [Guardians of the City]