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: Bing Maps The stretch for Beach Street near Aquatic Park was once bisected by a spur of the Southern Pacific and State Belt Railroads, and included industrial warehouses instead of today's souvenir shops. The Piedmont Winery building at 781 Beach Street housed some the area's most productive wineries.
1915 Sanborn Map of 781 Beach Street [Photo: ProQuest Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970]
The waterfront was once home to a small railroad called the State Belt Line that connected freight cars along the Embarcadero to the piers and the larger Southern Pacific Rail lines. When the Piedmont Winery was built in 1912 as a waterfront warehouse with offices and vaults for wine storage, the business decided they wanted their own spur of the Belt Line so they could ship directly from their building. They were given approval to construct, maintain and operate their own spur, which made the building a prime location for other businesses to eventually occupy. The building housed milling companies and other wineries, including the Italian Swiss Colony, and in the 1960s the West Coast Sign Company.
By the 1970s the rail line went into rapid decline, and the Belt Railroad was discontinued in 1th 1990s with the tracks repurposed for the F line. The building at 781 Beach Street still stands today as a rare surviving warehouse, albeit altered, housing offices and commercial retail space.
· Board of Supervisors Record 1912, Volume 5 [Internet Archive]
· Italian Swiss Colony Warehouse [Noe Hill]
· San Francisco's Belt Railroad [Virtual Museum of SF]