archive for August, 2008

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Sunset neighborhood — televised history tour

The ubiquitous and erudite Woody LaBounty of the Western Neighborhood Project takes Brian Hackney of CBS Channel 5 on a televised history tour of his beloved Sunset stomping grounds. Just in case you’ve been missing out, the Western Neighborhood Project (outsidelands.org) is a wonderful organization, a non-profit passionately dedicated to uncovering and preserving the legacies […]

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Monday, August 18th, 2008

Vintage snapshots of San Francisco pt. 2: Google-mapped

A couple days after I passed on this alert to the amazing Charles Cushman photo collection, another reader immediately saw possibilities for this carefully filed and annotated archive of our city in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s.

He’s created a Google map, digitally mapping over 200 of the enormous collection’s slides to their places of origin.

This looks like it must have been a TON of work, but as Dan wrote, “Richard — this wasn’t so much effort as it looks. Google maps has a geocoder which takes street intersections and turns them into GPS coordinates. I wrote a script to download the Cushman archive pages, look up the street addresses in the geocoder, and add them to the map.”

Right — it’s easy if you know how! And I suspect that slightly more energy went into this project than Dan is letting on.

Though just a bit over 10% of the 1791 images in the San Francisco portion of the archive were readily identifiable, it’s more than enough to pull you back into a visceral, three-dimensional experience of our city in the era of Kodachrome.

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Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Faded time capsule — vintage snapshots of San Francisco

A reader alerted me to an amazing post that just popped up over at Laughing Squid.

See the two photos below? The first comes from an online collection of vintage color snapshots of San Francisco, courtesy of an online gallery at Indiana University — it’s the intersection of South Van Ness and Army, snapped by who-knows-who back in 1953.

The second one was snapped by Todd Lappin just yesterday — and at first glance, not much has changed in the last fifty years but the trees on the Bernal Hill and the price of gas!

San Francisco, South Van Ness and Army 1953
check out the rest of the post …

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Friday, August 8th, 2008

Kitchen Sisters on NPR: “Birth of Rice-A-Roni”

Rice-A-Roni - the San Francisco Treat

1940s San Francisco. A young Canadian immigrant and her Italian pasta family husband move into the spare room of an old Armenian woman.

The result of this temporary arrangement? The boxed rice and pasta side dish which — for good or ill — would come to be as strongly associated with San Francisco as the Golden Gate Bridge:

“Rice-A-Roni – the San Francisco Treat”

check out rest of the post

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Friday, August 1st, 2008

Grandpa’s archives: San Francisco Chronicle aerial photo ca. 1949

My mother called a few days ago, opening the conversation with a breathless “I think I’ve found something that might interest you!”

She was right.

Her sister had recently gone through some papers belonging to my late grandfather Elmer Plett, a sober, hard-working dairy farmer who spent the majority of his adult life in the central valley town of Turlock.

Among piles of receipts and newspaper clippings my aunt discovered a mysterious item bearing the handwritten label “San Francisco picture, 1949″. Sure enough, nestled between protective cardboard sheets was a large, glossy, black and white aerial photograph of San Francisco.

The shot is spectacular, taken on an unusually clear winter day. The angle is unusual too, looking almost precisely north towards Mount Shasta — and according to the story of how the photo came to be taken (see below), that view of the distant volcano is what prompted the photographer to take to the air.

What we’re interested in, though, is the city in the foreground — captured in all its hat-wearing, freeway-building, pre-jet-age post-war glory. Take a look:


San Francisco Chronicle aerial photo 1949

click image to view at full size

check out the rest of the post here, including photo details

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