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Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Sparkletack.

San Francisco history lovers: A notice that’s a bit overdue: I haven’t recorded a podcast for years, now, and the chances that I’ll return to this project are slim. That said, I’m committed to leaving ALL THESE PODCASTS online – as a resource for San Franciscans, of course, but also for lovers of this fascinating […]

7 Comments » - Posted in Notes by

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

OldSF.org – Map of the San Francisco Public Library’s Historical Photo Collection

Just received an email from an old contact — and though I’ve not been actively updating Sparkletack, this project is just too fantastic not to mention. I’ve pillaged the San Francisco History Center’s online photo archive myself many, many times … and often dreamed of a resource exactly like this one. OldSF.org in Dan’s own […]

3 Comments » - Posted in Just plain cool,San Francisco angle by

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Bimbo’s 365 Club

A couple of days ago, Toby of Bimbo’s 365 Club dropped me a line: “Here at Bimbo’s, we’ve recently stated to scan some of the amazing things we have in our archives here at the club. We have soooo much stuff. We’ve posted some things in our blog and galleries. We’ve just started this and […]

6 Comments » - Posted in From the community by

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

SepiaTown — a virtual San Francisco

This is awesome. SepiaTown is a brand new website integrating mapping technology with crowd-sourced historical photos to create a virtually strollable San Francisco. They’ve collected over 150 images of San Francisco thus far, mostly clustered around California, Montgomery, and Market Streets … but it’s easy to see how the entire city could be reconstructed. Reconstructed […]

4 Comments » - Posted in Just plain cool,San Francisco history blog by

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

“Frisco”? I think not.

It’s not because Herb Caen got hot under the collar about it. And yeah, I know it was practically the official name of the City in the decades following the Gold Rush — a moniker beloved by locals and visitors alike. In fact, here’s Exhibit A on the pro-Frisco side, a song sung by thousands […]

14 Comments » - Posted in San Francisco angle by

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Lefty O’Doul Hall of Fame Campaign

For years I’ve said that the enshrinement of San Francisco’s favourite son Francis Joseph “Lefty” O’Doul at Cooperstown is overdue. LONG overdue. Sure, we in San Francisco named a drawbridge after him — but Lefty is due some recognition at a national level. I’ll resist the urge to restate my entire podcast about Lefty’s colorful […]

5 Comments » - Posted in San Francisco angle by

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Gangs of San Francisco

I’ve been meaning to post about these amazing T-shirts forever. Because they’re — I kid you not — unbearably cool. It’s an idea so good that I’ve been kicking myself constantly (though ever so gently) for not having thought of it first! What we have here is a series of San Francisco historical T-shirts, each […]

6 Comments » - Posted in Just plain cool,San Francisco angle by

Friday, October 30th, 2009

A map that’s just my type

Ork Posters has created something guaranteed to delight typophiles (that’s me) and San Francisco neighborhood geeks (check) alike. It’s a typographic neighborhood map of Our Fair City. See? Oh sure, they do it for a bunch of their other favourite cities too. But this is so cool that I forgive them for that. Screen-printed. Multiple […]

6 Comments » - Posted in Just plain cool,San Francisco angle by

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Lefty O’Doul’s green suit — in color

In honor of that most noble of American pastimes, a lovely painting inspired by a favourite photo of the great San Francisco character, Lefty O’Doul … otherwise known as Mr. Lefty not-yet-in-the-damn-Hall-of-Fame O’Doul. But I digress. If you’ve heard my podcast about Lefty, you’ll have guessed that this photo was taken on one of Lefty’s […]

17 Comments » - Posted in San Francisco angle,San Francisco history blog by

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Inspiration! “Secret Histories of San Francisco”

“Thank you for making such an awesome show. It’s really helped me out with this art project I’ve been working on.

I’m in an art show at the San Francisco Arts Commission and the theme is “Trace Elements”, or uh, Hidden Histories of San Francisco, so I’m making an illustrated map of San Francisco with bits of its hidden history. I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at with this thing if it wasn’t for your podcast.”

How cool is that?! read on …

8 Comments » - Posted in From the community,Just plain cool,San Francisco history blog by

Monday, May 18th, 2009

San Francisco Timecapsule: 05.18.09

THIS WEEK’S PODCAST TRANSCRIPT: 1922: Flappers in the newspapers

May 19, 1922
Flappers

flapper_smRight off the bat I have to admit the fact that — to paraphrase Olympia Dukakis in Moonstruck — what I don’t know about San Francisco in the 1920s is a lot.

I did know that all sorts of great Prohibition and gangster stuff must have gone on, though, so I started leafing through a couple of 1922 editions of the Chronicle looking for stories.

And was immediately distracted by the flappers.

You know, flappers.

Louise Brooks, Josephine Baker, Zelda Fitzgerald

read on …

7 Comments » - Posted in San Francisco history blog,San Francisco history podcasts by

Monday, May 11th, 2009

San Francisco Timecapsule: 05.11.09

THIS WEEK’S PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:
1879: Stoddard, Stevenson, and Rincon Hill

Sometime in 1879:
The house on Rincon Hill

Last week I read to you from In the Footprints of the Padres, Charles Warren Stoddard’s 1902 reminiscences about the early days of San Francisco.

That piece recounted a boyhood adventure, but this book is full of California stories from the latter years of the 19th century; some deservedly obscure, but some that ring pretty loud bells.

Todays’ short text is a great example of the latter, one that dovetails beautifully with two other San Francisco stories, both of which I’ve talked about at Sparkletack: the story of the Second Street Cut and the visit of Robert Louis Stevenson.

The now all-grown-up Stoddard had returned to San Francisco after the Polynesian peregrinations that would inspire his best-known work, and Stevenson had just arrived from Scotland in hot pursuit of the woman he loved.

The two authors hit it off, and — as you’ll hear at the end of today’s Timecapsule — it’s to Stoddard and the house on Rincon Hill that we owe Stevenson’s eventual fascination with the South Seas.

charles warren stoddardSouth Park and Rincon Hill!

Do the native sons of the golden West ever recall those names and think what dignity they once conferred upon the favored few who basked in the sunshine of their prosperity?

South Park, with its line of omnibuses running across the city to North Beach; its long, narrow oval, filled with dusty foliage and offering a very weak apology for a park; its two rows of houses with, a formal air, all looking very much alike, and all evidently feeling their importance. There were young people’s “parties” in those days, and the height of felicity was to be invited to them.

As a height o’ertops a hollow, so Rincon Hill looked down upon South Park. There was more elbow-room on the breezy height; not that the height was so high or so broad, but it was breezy; and there was room for the breeze to blow over gardens that spread about the detached houses their wealth of color and perfume.

How are the mighty fallen! The Hill, of course, had the farthest to fall. South Parkites merely moved out: they went to another and a better place. There was a decline in respectability and the rent-roll, and no one thinks of South Park now, — at least no one speaks of it above a whisper.

read on …

No Comments » - Posted in Historical book reviews,San Francisco history blog,San Francisco history podcasts by

Monday, May 4th, 2009

San Francisco Timecapsule: 05.04.09

THIS WEEK’S PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:
1854: A future poet’s boyhood outing

charles_warren_stoddardSpring 1854
Charles Warren Stoddard

In 1854, the down-on-their-luck Stoddard family set off from New York City to try their luck in that brand new metropolis of the West: San Francisco.

Charles Warren Stoddard was just 11 years old, and San Francisco — still in the throes of the Gold Rush, a vital, chaotic, cosmopolitan stew pot — was the most exciting place a little boy could dream of.

Charles would grow up to play a crucial part in San Francisco’s burgeoning literary scene. He was just a teenager when his first poems were published in the Golden Era, and his talent and sweet personality were such that he developed long-lasting friendships with the other usual-suspect San Francisco bohemians, Ambrose Bierce, Ina Coolbrith, Bret Harte, and Samuel Clemens.

Stoddard is probably best remembered for the mildly homo-erotic short stories inspired by his extensive travels in the South Seas, but in 1902 he published a kind of memoir entitled In the Footprints of the Padres. As the old song goes, it recalls “the days of old, the days of gold, the days of ’49″ from a very personal point of view.

The reviewers of the New York Times praised the work for Stoddard’s “vivid and poetic charm”, but I have to admit that I’m mainly in it for his memories.

footprints_of_the_padresIn this piece, Charles and his little gang of pals are about to embark on a day-long ramble along the north-eastern edge of the city. Let’s roll the clock back to 1854, and with Charles’ help, put ourselves into the shoes of an 11-year-old boy anticipating the freedom of a sunny spring Saturday.

read on …

4 Comments » - Posted in Historical book reviews,San Francisco history blog,San Francisco history podcasts by

Monday, April 20th, 2009

San Francisco Timecapsule: 04.20.09

THIS WEEK’S PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:
1906: Hotaling’s Whiskey is spared by the Great Fire and Earthquake

hotaling whiskeyApril 20th, 1906
The deliverance of Hotaling’s Whiskey

As of Friday the 20th, San Francisco was still on fire. The Great Earthquake had happened two days earlier, but the Fire (or fires) that devastated the city were still well underway.

The eastern quarter of the city — nearly five square miles — would be almost completely destroyed. But after the smoke cleared, a few precious blocks would emerged unscathed. Among these survivors would be the two blocks bounded by Montgomery, Jackson, Battery and Washington Streets.

great earthquake and firestorm fradkinOceans of ink have been spilled in documenting the incredible individual heroism and unfathomable professional incompetence displayed in fighting those fires. One of the best books on the subject is “The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906” by Philip Fradkin, from which I’ve swiped much of today’s timecapsule.

This is the story of a single building, but one of vital importance to the delicate Western palette: AP Hotaling & Co.’s warehouse at 451 Jackson Street — the largest depository of whiskey on the West Coast.

Day One: the first escape

Hotaling’s warehouse was threatened on the very first day of the fires, Wednesday, April 18th. This particular blaze was one of the many inspired by rampant and ill-advised dynamiting, in this case by an allegedly drunken John Bermingham, not coincidentally the president of the California Powder Works.

Encouraged by the blast, the fire roared towards the whiskey-packed warehouse. Its cornices began to smoulder, but a quick-acting fireman bravely clambered to the top and hacked them off.

This was Hotaling’s first escape.

6 Comments » - Posted in San Francisco history blog,San Francisco history podcasts by

Monday, April 13th, 2009

San Francisco Timecapsule: 04.13.09

THIS WEEK’S PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:
1958: The Giants play the Dodgers in the first major league baseball game on the West Coast

April 15, 1958
Major League Baseball in San Francisco!

ph_history_timeline_art17Exactly fifty-one years ago today, two New York City transplants faced each other for the first time on the fertile soil of the West Coast.

Decades of storied rivalry already under their respective belts, these two legendary New York baseball clubs — the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers — were trapped in aging, unsuitable parks. Giants owner Horace Stoneham had been considering a move to Minnesota until Dodger owner Walter O’Malley — whose plans for a new Brooklyn park were being blocked — set his sights on the demographic paradise of Los Angeles.

The National League wouldn’t allow just one team to make such a drastic geographic move, so O’Malley talked Stoneham into taking a look at San Francisco. To the eternal regret and dismay of their New York fans, following the 1957 season, both teams pulled up stakes and headed for the welcoming arms of California.

read on …

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