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Dream of a Hot Toddy at Warner's Cobweb Saloon

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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.

[1880s Then photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY/ Now photo: Bing Maps] Gold Rush San Francisco was a dirty, dusty town, and no place personified that better than Warner's Cobweb Saloon. Literally covered with curtains of cobwebs hanging from the rafters, the saloon run by eccentric Abe Warner was filled with oddities from around the world, along with a menagerie of animals that ran free around the bar.

Warner himself, who was always sporting a tall top hat, started the bar in 1856 after working as a butcher during the Gold Rush. Rumor was Abe was superstitious about spiders, so he would never harm one or interfere with its web, and they soon took over and became an attraction themselves. He housed a crazy collection of exotic artifacts in the bar, like walrus tusks, masks from Asia, totem poles from Alaska - not to mention trained parrots, monkeys, and even a bear and kangaroo. Apparently the drink of choice at Abe's was a hot toddy made of whisky and gin boiled with cloves. As the city transformed from a Gold Rush town to a growing metropolis, the Cobweb Palace fell out of fashion and was auctioned off in 1893 (cobwebs, animals, and all). Today the site is a post office, housed in a building constructed in 1935.

· The Cobweb Palace [Cityguides]
· Abe Warner, the Cobweb King [SF Gate]
· The Cobweb Palace, San Francisco [The Overland Monthly via Google Books]