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.
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[1929 Then photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY/ Now photo: Google Maps] The Barbary Coast has a raucous history, full of saloons, brothels, and shaghaiing. The area now known as Jackson Square was comprised of places of ill-repute, with the block of Pacific between Montgomery and Kearny infamously referred to as "Terrific Street." When the Barbary Coast was essentially shutdown in 1917, the Hippodrome remained, along with it's plaster casts of, uh, very friendly nymphs and satyrs.
The area known as the Barbary Coast occupied what is today Montgomery to Stockton along Pacific Street, with branches off into Kearny and Grant. Most of the area was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, but the businesses that rebuilt were quick to pick up where the old debauchery had left off - only this time they focused on glamour and entertainment. Instead of divey saloons, think nightclubs with dancing girls.
Interior of the Moulin Rouge nightclub in the Barbary Coast, 1911
555 Pacific was such a place, going through multiple iterations of clubs and dance halls. The existing building is pretty much a reconstruction of a saloon that was there before the earthquake, but was known as the Red Mill, later renamed in French to Moulin Rouge in attempts to class up the joint. The exterior was covered in plaster reliefs of satyrs chasing naked wood nymphs. By the late 1930s, the Hippodrome moved into the spot.
Hippodrome nightclub, undated
The building was again restored in the 1940s, when the area got a bit of a Barbary Coast revival in time for the sailors of WWII. By the 1960s, the Hippodrome was briefly resurrected on Broadway. Romanticism of the Barbary Coast days in the 1970s created the Jackson Square local historic district, and the old Hippodrome building was listed as a contributor on both the local district listing and the National Register of Historic Places. Today the location has been retrofitted for the Artist & Craftsman Supply store.
· Barbary Coast [Found SF]
· Historic Walks in San Francisco: 18 Trails Through the City's Past [Rand Richards via Google Books]
· The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld [Herbert Asbury via Google Books]
· Jackson Square Historic District National Register of Historic Places nomination [NPS]