Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Filtering by Tag: Soma

Fog Over Frisco - To The Bridge!

Then ...  Val, responding to Arlene's telegrammed cry for help, speeds south down 4th Street on her way to Butchertown Bridge.   Behind her, facing us, is the Roos Bros. department store on Market Street (map).

... and Now,  The store today houses the Union Square branch of Forever 21.

     The Roos Bros. store opened October 31, 1908 to great fanfare, an important contribution to the city's downtown post-earthquake recovery.  It's pictured here after a 1937 remodel; Stockton Street intersects at far left.

 

Then ...  Now it's the turn of the police to join the chase - a police captain's car pulls out of Harbor Police Station from the left side and heads  south on Drumm Street, about to pass the masonry arched Engine 12 firehouse at far right on the southwest corner of Drumm and Commercial Street.

... and Now,   Three Embarcadero Center replaced this block of Commercial Street in the 1970s and a pedestrian bridge was added above Drumm.   Ann Taylor and a Naturalizer Store currently overlap the location of the old firehouse site (map).

    This 1953 photo of a 1929 hose tender taken outside the Engine 12 firehouse shows the masonry arches seen in the movie.  The window visible through the open door looked out onto Commercial.

 

Then ...  The police station, kitty-korner across Drumm from the firehouse, spits out a cadre of cops on bikes.

... a vintage photo ...  a wider view of Harbor Police Station, on the northeast corner of Drumm and Commercial, is seen in this photo.

... and Now,   the Embarcadero Four Center sits astride where this Commercial Street block used to be.  For a look at the block before it was demolished go here.

 

Then ...  Tony's cab isn't far behind Val as it heads across Market about to turn into 4th Street.  Note the vertical sign at far left for the California Theatre, San Francisco's first real movie palace, which opened in 1917.

... and Now,   the building on the right corner dates from 1908 and has survived but the theatre building across 4th at 799 Market was demolished in 1961, subsequently replaced by the retail/office building still there today.

    .... here's a 1944 vintage photo that, 10 years later, reproduces the Then image above.  By then the movie house had been renamed the State Theatre, continuing under this name until it closed down in 1961.  Note Roos Bros. store opposite.

    And for those theatre history buffs amongst us here's a c. 1917 photo taken shortly after the original California Theatre opened.

 

Then ...  When the cops make a turn into a wide thoroughfare a barely legible United Cigars store sign on the corner at left provided the clue to this location.

... a vintage photo ...   CitySleuth came across this 1921 photo taken from the same spot; it looks east along Mission Street past 4th (map).  The United Cigars store was at 99 4th Street.

... and Now,   the soul of SoMa is rapidly crumbling under the encroachment of impersonal modern buildings.

 

    Here's a challenge, dear readers - the location of this next shot of Tony's cab has so far stumped CitySleuth.  Does anybody out there recognize it?  (The sloping hill at the end of the street may be the best clue)...

    ... a closer view of the hillside is seen as the cab nears the end of the road.  Note the path or road winding up the lowest part of the hill.  But where is this?

 

The Penalty - A Diabolical Plan, Revealed

    Blizzard continues to outline his plot to his chief lieutenant, O'Hagan; in it, another policeman is cut down by the anarchists.  (This location has studio back lot written all over it).

 

Then ...  The police respond in force from the old Hall Of Justice at 750 Kearny Street at Washington.

... and Now,  the Hall Of Justice moved to new quarters at 850 Bryant Street in the 1960s after which the old structure was razed in 1967 to make way for a hotel, the Hilton San Francisco Financial District (map).  In the same view today an overhead pedestrian bridge links the hotel to Portsmouth Square Plaza across Kearny.

    Here's the Old Hall Of Justice viewed from Portsmouth Square in the 1958 movie The LineUp 38 years after it appeared in The Penalty.  

 

Then ...  The horde turns its attention to banks, in this case the Union Trust Banking Hall on Market at Grant, and Blizzard's intentions begin to become clear - his plan is to rob the City clean while police and fire responders are distracted.

... and Now,  it's still a bank - now a branch of Wells Fargo (map).

 

Then ...  Blizzard directs his men carrying bags of loot down the steps of the Old San Francisco Mint.

... and Now,  the 1874 structure still stands in SoMa at 5th Street and Mission (map), but it no longer mints coins...

    ... the task of minting coins was transferred in 1937 from the old to the new Mint at Hermann and Buchanan at the eastern tip of the Duboce Triangle (map), pictured here from the Market Street Safeway parking lot.

 

Then ...  Interestingly, while imagining the action on the steps of the old Mint Blizzard sees himself with amputated legs restored.

... and Now,  those same steps today.

 

   The audacious plan startles O'Hagan ...  "By God! You've gone mad!".  Blizzard angrily sends him away.

 

The Laughing Policeman - Car Chase

    Inspired no doubt by the popularity five years earlier of the car chase in Bullitt, director Stuart Rosenberg decided to include one in this movie.  As in Bullitt, the chase makes arbitrary geographical jumps around the city.  It starts out in the Financial District, cuts to SoMa then over to Potrero Hill/Dogpatch before ending up in North Beach.

    Throughout the chase, click or tap the image or thumbnail to compare Then with Now.

 

  The dogged duo watch from their unmarked police sedan, a late 1960s Ford Custom, as Camerero pulls out of the Battery Street exit of One Embarcadero's underground garage in the Financial District (map).  He's driving what has become a classic, a Mercedes-Benz 250 or 280 SL with the 'pagoda' concave top.

 

    Camerero spots them and decides to shake them off.  He speeds west down narrow Commercial street towards Sansome (map) with Larsen in hot pursuit; on the left is the Federal Reserve Bank building, now called the Bentley Reserve. This block today is pedestrian only, accessed by an overhead bridge across Battery from One Embarcadero Center.

 

    Larsen follows the Mercedes across Sansome as it continues west along the next block.  Way ahead, Commercial goes on to dead-end in Chinatown at Grant Avenue.

 

    Next, both cars make a hard left out of Battery into Clay (map)...

 

... they continue east along Clay past Front Street.  The Golden Gateway Redevelopment Project is in full swing; the old Produce Market has been swept away, the Alcoa Building already complete on the left and Two Embarcadero Center under construction on the right (map).   Ahead is the Ferry Building and the Clay Street on-ramp to the eyesore double-deck 480 Embarcadero Freeway (demolished in 1991 after being damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake).

 

     A geographical leap  to the South Of Market neighborhood catches up with the action as Camerero, heading north on 3rd Street under the Interstate 80 and 480 freeways (map), is about to make a sharp turn to his right into narrow Perry Street.  Both elevated freeways have undergone changes since then.

 

    They head east over a sharp crest on Perry Street alongside the freeway (map).  In the Now image a homeless group has decided this is a good place to call home.

 

    Larsen, cresting the hill, is about to unknowingly drive right by Camerero who has sneakily pulled in to one side...

 

    ... then when they emerge onto 2nd Street (mapthey make an immediate U-turn and head back to find Camerero.  In this view the 80 freeway is at far left from which the 480 freeway peels off, crossing 2nd towards the Embarcadero.  Demolished following the 1989 earthquake, this section has since been replaced by a west-bound addition to the 80 freeway.

 

They backtrack along Perry and spot Camerero ahead of them.  In a slick piece of stunt driving the Mercedes, crossing 3rd Street,  is almost broadsided by a spinning green sedan forced to slam on its brakes.

 

    The next cross-town segue takes us to Potrero Hill.  The chase continues north on Iowa under the 280 freeway, approaching 23rd Street (map).  The recent image shows seismic upgrades to the freeway supports.

 

    Camerero turns left into 23rd and uses the steep half-block incline under the 280 freeway to launch the Mercedes into the air.  The thriving industrial area these days is packed daily with bumper-to-bumper parked cars.

 

   Larsen guns it up the same slope, about to get air himself.  Note the huge storage tank on the corner of 23rd and Pennsylvania - it's gone now.

    The site of the storage tank is now occupied by an anti-hunger organization, the San Francisco Marin Food Bank.

 

    The hefty Ford gets even more air than the Mercedes did.  Behind them 23rd Street recedes east through the Dogpatch neighborhood to San Francisco Bay.

 

    Now the chase jumps clear over to Russian Hill to where tourists regularly gather every day to take in the east view to Coit Tower from Lombard and Hyde at the top of the famous crooked street (map).

 

    Not surprisingly they're not joining the procession down the eight switchbacks; instead this is a convenient vantage point from which the camera can zoom in to the two cars, arrowed, crossing Columbus Avenue (map).  In the recent  Now image a Powell-Mason cable car clangs by on Columbus.

 

    The car chase ends when Camerero abandons his Mercedes in the middle of Union Street  in North Beach and takes off on foot across Columbus with Jake in hot pursuit (map).  This view looks west along Union rising up to Russian Hill.

 

    He spots Camerero boarding a Muni bus and runs across Washington Square Park in time to jump on at its next stop in front of Sts. Peter and Paul church (map).  As he takes a seat with a clear view of Camerero  the second phase of the pursuit - the bus chase - is about to begin.

 

The Laughing Policeman - Cruising

    Tailing the suspect around town has convinced Larsen of one thing: "He's a classic fruiter", he tells Jake.  Meanwhile Camerero, possibly aware that he's being followed, gets bolder, leading them on a tour of some of the city's gay bars.

Then ... They catch up with him in the Tenderloin neighborhood across from the Minerva Cafe, a greek taverna at 136 Eddy Street (map), in the storefront of the Empress Hotel.

... and Now,  the 100 block of Eddy Street has hardly changed.  The Empress Hotel is still there but the cafe is long gone.

    The cafe, seen here in a 1974 photo, was owned and managed by restauranteur Vasilios Glimidakis and was one of three Greek eateries within the space of one block.  It seated 250, offered both dining and dancing and was a popular venue for social events and political dinners and luncheons.

 

Then ... Camerero's destination is The Ramrod, a pickup gay bar at 1225 Folsom Street in the SoMa district (map).

    Here's a 1970s photo of the bar, at far right, as it would have looked when the movie was filmed.  To say it was popular with the biker/leather crowd would be an understatement.

... and Now,  The Ramrod opened in the late 1960s and the bar is still in business but has cycled through many names over the years - My Place, Cip, Chaps, Kok (!); it's currently called Driftwood.  As can be seen, windows have since been added to the frontage.

 

Then ...  Inside The Ramrod, leather seems to be de rigueur.  But Camerero, suavely dapper in suit and sunglasses, doesn't seem to fit in and, not finding what he wants anyway, decides to try elsewhere.

... and Now,  the shape of the bar has been redone otherwise the feel of the place looks to be much the same.  Driftwood's clientele is more mixed than in the past but it continues to be popular with the gay community.

 

    His next stop, plusher and with entertainment and a canopied ceiling,  seems more his type of place. 

    When Larsen steps out we see where this was - the Frolic Room mid-block at 141 Mason Street at the edge of the Tenderloin (map)just around the corner from the Minerva Cafe where we saw Camerero at the beginning of this post.

Then ...  Larsen joins Jake in their unmarked car across the street to continue the surveillance.  They watch as Camerero, pickup in tow, exits the club.  Just past the small parking lot is another bar at 111 Mason, previously the Robin Hood Tavern before being renamed the Chez Paree.

... and Now,  a community affordable housing building now sits on the site of the Frolic Room and the parking lot.  But there's still a tavern at 111 Mason - the Union Square Sports Bar; its marquee awning has survived too.

    CitySleuth recognizes that sexy-leg Chez Paree sign in the Then image above.  He would bet you a dime to a dollar that this was the sign, below, that used to adorn the Barbary Coast club at 533 Pacific Avenue in the International Settlement during the 1950s (also seen here in Frank Sinatra's 1957 movie Pal Joey).  Same sign, different name.

 

   They follow the pair to a townhouse apartment where a little "love in the afternoon", as Larsen snidely puts it, prompts the closing of the drapes.

Then ...  The townhouse is the one seen across the way, beyond Larsen's shoulder.   By now the two cops are beginning to get frustrated at not being able to get Camerero to drop his guard.

... and Now,  this was filmed at Sydney G. Walton Square park by the footbridge that links the park across Jackson Street to the Davis Court Apartments.  Named after a San Francisco banker, the park was built in 1960 at the north end of  the city's former Produce Market (map).  Today's comparative view shows just how much the Financial District has proliferated over the years.

 

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