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. Over the past two years Curbed has brought you Then & Now, a comparison of historic photos of the Bay Area with current views from the same perspective. We've posted over 50 Then & Nows, and here are some of our favorites.Read More
Mapping 18 San Francisco Spots With Amazing History
1. Waiting at the Sleek Greyhound Station For a Ride to Marin
San Francisco, CA 94104
In 1941, Greyhound took over Marin County commuter service from the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. Their sleek new Greyhound Interurban bus terminal opened on March 1 at the southeast corner of Sansome and Sacramento streets, right next to the landmark classical Federal Reserve Bank (it's the one in the background on the left). The bus depot closed December 1, 1950, and in its place went 340-350 Sansome, a 10-story office building constructed in 1952 and home to a myriad of offices and ground-floor retail.
2. Have a Good Time at the Hippodrome on "Terrific Street"
San Francisco, CA 94111
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.
3. What Was Once a Bar is Now a KFC/Taco Bell in Bayview
San Francisco, CA 94124
Back during the Gold Rush, South San Francisco didn't refer to the area near the airport in San Mateo County, but instead was an area in today's Bayview between the Bay, Islais Creek and Visitacion Valley. John J. Ford & Emil Holje opened a saloon catering to the workers who lived in the area - immigrants working at shipyards, tanneries, bakeries, butchers, and more. The old stagecoach line designated as Railroad Avenue in 1878 and renamed Third Street in 1921. Ford & Holje located their saloon at what was then Railroad and 9th Aves in South San Francisco, today Third Street and Innes Ave in the Bayview. The lot went on to be split, and is now home to a combination KFC/Taco Bell.
4. From Butcher Shop to Baptist Church
Daly City, CA 94014
It's Friday, it's almost lunchtime, and we're hungry. Too bad we can't hit up El Rancho Meat Center on Geneva Avenue – it was transformed into the New Mt. Vernon Baptist Church (we're not sure when the church took over the building, but it wasn't formed until 1986, so sometime after that). The 1954 building still reads pretty much the same, though the glass storefronts have been filled in to hold smaller windows. The funky curved front entrance with era-fav glass block still remain. Dang, now we're really hungry.
5. Dream of a Hot Toddy at Warner's Cobweb Saloon
San Francisco, CA 94133
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.
6. Start Off Your Friday With the Old Acme Brewery
San Francisco, CA 94102
Start your weekend off right with a quick history on San Francisco's Acme Beer. Started as a transplant from Seattle's Olympia Brewery after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire destroyed many SF breweries, Acme was originally located at the foot of Telegraph Hill. They survived prohibition by making an Acme Light "near beer" with 0.5% alcohol, and became successful enough to require a new bottling plant by the 1940s, built on Buchanan between Fulton and Grove Streets.
7. Looking Back at the Oldest(?) Building in San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94114
Sometimes we forget to highlight the city's most famous historic sites because, well, everyone already knows about them. But that doesn't make them any less impressive. In honor of it's basilica's 100th birthday, today we're taking a look back at the city's (arguably) oldest building – the original Misión San Francisco de Asís – better known as Mission Dolores.
8. From Mega Manse to Mid-Century School
San Francisco, CA 94115
Albert Gallatin Jr. was a San Francisco big shot, and had the palatial house on Alta Plaza to prove it. The house was demo'd in 1957 to make way for a new campus for the Town School for Boys.
9. From Whale Mansion To Mega Tower
San Francisco, CA 94131
We didn't touch on historic whale Adolph Sutro this week since we've covered his land holdings so much in the past, but one lesser-known whale mansion was constructed by his heirs. Hint: it used to be where a very famous tower now stands.
10. The City's Second Most Expensive House Has French-Inspired Roots
San Francisco, CA 94118
Now that one of the most expensive houses in San Francisco is officially off the market, we thought we'd take a peek back at the history of one of the other mega listings – 3800 Washington, or optimistically referred to as "Petit Trianon."
11. Before Glen Park, There Was "Little Switzerland"
San Francisco, CA 94131
Glen Park, the family friendly neighborhood with seemingly endless adorable little houses, seems to evoke this small-town-within-a-city vibe. Originally built up as vacation homes and known as "Little Switzerland", it wasn't until street cars reached the area and refugees from the 1906 Earthquake and Fire needed housing that it really became a thriving neighborhood.
12. Origins of The Stick
Hot on the heels of last night's 49ers victory, and in anticipation of their impending relocation to Santa Clara, today's Then & Now features the infamous love-it-or-hate-it Candlestick Park.
13. From Muni Graveyard to Organic Produce
San Francisco, CA 94122
Now home to local grocery chain Andronicos and an apartment complex, the block between Funston, 14th Ave, Lincoln Way, and Irving Street was once a Muni graveyard. Officially called the Funston Yard but known as the Boneyard, the site held over 90 derelict streetcars.
14. The Chutes at 10th & Fulton
San Francisco, CA 94118
When the city was still growing, the outer avenues were sparsely developed, leaving room for block-long building sites. One particular block at 10th & Fulton was home to the "largest pleasure resort in America" - the Chutes water park.
15. Washington Street Produce Market
San Francisco, CA 94111
When we featured Sydney Walton Plaza as our Park Life a few weeks ago, one commenter brought up the site's history as the city's produce market. Much of Washington Street in downtown was known as Commission Market, the city's largest wholesale produce market, until the 1960s when the site was redeveloped as the mixed-use Golden Gateway.
16. The Casino Roadhouse
San Francisco, CA 94117
San Francisco has always had a reputation as a drinking town, and things were no different in the 1890s. Located on Fulton between 24th & 25th Avenues, the Casino Roadhouse was a loud, boisterous restaurant and bar in a sparsely populated area of town, and was wildly successful.
17. Vicente St & 41st Ave
San Francisco, CA 94116
Known as the Outside Lands, the Sunset was a sparsely inhabited area of large sand dunes until the construction of the Twin Peaks Tunnel in 1917. Other than the infamous Carville, most of the development centered around the Inner and Central Sunset, and in 1928, the area at Vicente and 41st Ave was still mostly sand dunes. Development increased in the 1930s, and by the 1950s, the last of the sand dunes were leveled for single and multi-family homes. Today the same spot is filled with houses and apartment buildings, and any remnants of the sand dunes are contained to Ocean Beach.
18. Wieland Brewery
San Francisco, CA 94107
Back in the day, San Francisco was full of breweries (76 to be exact). The Wieland Brewery was located on a block of 2nd Street, between Howard and Folsom, from 1856-1920, and housed all the brew tanks, bottling facilities, and offices. John Wieland, gold miner, baker and beer baron, bought the already thriving Philadelphia Brewery, eventually becoming its sole owner and renaming it Wieland, and building it into one of the most successful and largest breweries on the west coast. Wieland died in a fire in 1885, and the brewery was sold to San Francisco Breweries LTD (but continued to operate under the name Wieland Brewery), who also owned three other breweries in town.