Skip to content

SFMTA Time Machine

May 5, 2014

Last week the esteemed David Gallagher kindly pointed me to a photo of a streetcar from the SFMTA photo archives.

The photo wasn’t embedded and I initially thought “Hey thanks David but I’m sure I’ve seen this one before.”

I had not seen this one before.

Mrs. Zaro Case Streetcar 1002

Or any of the photos in the archive save one or two. Warning to San Franciscans: clear the rest of today’s schedule before opening this and any other link to the SFMTA Time Machine.

Anyway, the photo above is looking at where Cole Hardware is today. Here’s the 1905 Sanborn map of that side of the street:

1905 Sanborn 3316 Misssion

The streetcar was turning into the car house across the street. Here is a photo showing the car bar from 1910, looking north on Mission towards 29th — within 6 years, the entire west (left) side of Mission had been rebuilt, including the building that the 3300 Club is in now. (If I remember correctly, the dome was removed during WWI.)

24th Street and Mission Street

Lots of the photos are nicely tagged, but some are not, or hold surprises. For example, this 1905 photo is just labelled with the “22nd 24th & Mission Street line” but for those living in the greater La Lengua Co-Prosperity Sphere will realize it is a shot of Bernal Hill taken from Valencia and Mission streets, looking to the east up Fair.

Foster Case Streetcar 1074

The lower white fence that you can see through the streetcar windows is Peters, and the one above it is (well, will be) Coleridge. Here’s the 1905 Sanborn for reference.

1905 sanborn fair st

The two houses on the right edge of the photo match up with 61 and 65 Coleridge:

1905 Coleridge sfmta photo

Also, that platform in the top right corner of the photo is clearly visible on the Sanborn map.

Here’s a dramatic SFMTA shot of Mission and 29th in 1909, looking down from above what will be the 3300 Club towards what will be Pizzahacker (so sorry verb tenses):

29th Street and Mission Street, Claims Department Case 5800

This is the same curve where our 1907 runaway streetcar jumped the tracks and crashed into future Pizzahacker after it was set loose by union sympathizers who shot the conductor. Zooming in, you can see the signs for Bernstein’s Mission Toggery and Warrens’s candy and ice cream store.

Also, a dog.

1909 sfmta mission toggery bernstein warren candy 3299 mission

Same corner in 1904 during some track work.

Curve 29th Street and Mission Streets

There used to be a kindergarten at 3303 Mission next to proto-Pizzahacker — it closed sometime between 1900 and 1905, so not sure if those kids are escaping from it or not. Can’t quite tell if the real estate/insurance sign was painted over or not.

1904 SFMTA Mission and 29th

Red is where Pizzahacker will be, kindergarten is 3301-3303 Mission:

1900 - 3299 Mission

1900 – 3299 Mission




1905 sanborn 3299 mission

Here’s looking up 29th from San Jose Ave towards Mission St in 1904:

Old Crossing 29th Street and San Jose Avenue

And a look north down Mission at the northwest corner of 29th in 1909:

29th Street and Mission Street, Claims Department Case 3058 1/2

And the 1905 Sanborn:

1905 Sanborn nw corner 29th & mission

The dentist (with a saloon on the ground floor) is long gone — that building is where 199 Tiffany now stands, and that particular spot is where Goood Frickin’ Chicken now serves delicious shwarma. But to the right is the building the home of Al’s Diner, and next to that, the new home of Ichi Sushi.

29th Street and Mission Street, Claims Department Case 3058 1/2

Stopping now before this posts turns into a doctoral thesis, but fret not as we will dig up more soon on other corners and streets in this ridiculously fabulous SFMTA historical photo archive.


10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2014 3:16 pm

    Amazing work, per usual sir. Just fyi, thanks to the crack team at SFMTAPhoto, we’re also mapping most of these on Historypin too, so you can see the map view of what they’ve got so far here:!map/index/#!/geo:37.756806,-122.441572/zoom:13/

    • May 5, 2014 4:16 pm

      Thanks burritojustice for the nod. It’s been a long road to get to where we are with the archive, but well worth the effort. More images to come, we have the rest of the United Railroad glass plate negatives that should be live on our website by the end of this week. As well as a later Muni series that should be up in the next few weeks.

      Also, the captions are the ones the original photographer used. We’ve added more information when we can, but often times it’s better to leave the captions as John Henry Mentz (URR Photographer) wrote them.

      Enjoy the photos!

      Heather Moran
      SFMTA Photographer & Photo- Archivist

  2. May 5, 2014 4:08 pm

    I have successfully avoided the archive for days now, but this might just put me over… I think it was the dog that did it…

  3. May 5, 2014 9:20 pm

    The building at 3301-3303 Mission only dates to the 1990s. The building there previously was demolished to make way for it. There is, however, a ball court painted on the roof of Pizzahacker building. Not sure if that’s somehow related to the kindergarten.

  4. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable permalink
    May 7, 2014 6:58 am

    Wow, this is great! Thanks!

  5. May 10, 2014 3:28 pm

    those photos match up with this local notice:

    Office of Board of Public Works
    Nov. 29, 1909
    Permission is hereby granted H.J. Grauerholz to place & maintain, during the pleasure of this board, three hitching posts on the sidewalk at the corner of 29th & Mission St., two of said hitching posts to be placed on the 29th St frontage and one on the Mission St frontage.

    • May 12, 2014 6:47 am

      Thanks for the info sfthen! We’re always looking for additional information on the images!


  1. SFMTA’s Archive | Mission Loc@l
  2. Then and Now: Folsom at Precita, 1943 | Bernalwood
  3. 1909 | Saket Vora

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: