Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Filtering by Tag: South San Francisco

Harold And Maude - Demolition

    Maude wants to know what Harold does when he isn't visiting funerals?  Cut to a construction site where a wrecking ball is demolishing a building;  They watch intently from a balcony across the way.

    But where was this filmed?  The only skimpy clue that may still be around is that house on the right; CitySleuth has yet to find the location and appeals to his readers for help ...

 

Then ...  They move on to a scrapyard, fascinated by the clattering sounds of recycling at work.  In this view from the crane's cab there's a message emblazoned on the hillside in the distance proudly proclaiming 'South San Francisco - The Industrial City'.  It enabled this location to be pinpointed.

... and Now,  here's that site today, a bare lot next to Exelixis, a genomics company seen on the right at 170 Harbor Way in South San Francisco.  This map shows its location with a red marker and, in blue, the hillside sign location, on the aptly named Sign Hill just below Sign Hill Park.  If you compare these Then and Now images closely you can match up some of the pylons of the PG&E substation across Gateway Boulevard.  

    This recently taken aerial photograph gives us a closer look at the Sign Hill slogan.  First appearing in 1923, the letters were made permanent in 1929 using gunite, a new material back then, now widely used for forming swimming pools. Cleverly, to compensate for hillside changes in slope, the letter heights vary so that from ground level perspective they appear the same.  The city of South San Francisco has morphed over the last century from heavy to light industry,  in particular establishing itself as a biotechnology center.

 

Then ...  Back to the scrapyard; this time the camera looks in the opposite direction across Harbor Way.

... and Now, from the same spot today we see a covered bridge crossing Harbor Way, linking two Exelixis buildings.

 

Then ...  But rather than witnessing things being destroyed Maude's preference is watching things grow.  In a greenhouse she explains to Harold how the plants represent an affirmation of life - the gospel according to Maude, one might say.

   CitySleuth came across an unconfirmed claim that this was filmed at the Avansino-Mortensen Nursery in San Bruno (this map shows where it was).  If so, it would have been one of the cluster of greenhouses seen in this c. 1950 aerial photo of the nursery in its prime.  Sneath Lane separates the greenhouses from the Golden Gate National Cemetery on the right and across El Camino Real along the bottom that's the Tanforan horse-racing track.  Its grandstand is partially visible on the left.

... and Now, two new freeways meeting at the 280/380 interchange now dominate this same aerial view.  The nursery served the Bay Area's flower market for 45 years from 1929 until it was dismantled in the 1970s.  Tanforan racetrack, opened in 1899, was replaced by a shopping mall in 1971.

 

Harold And Maude - Maude's Rail Car

    Maude's home is rather unusual, to say the least.  She lives in a Pullman railroad car.  There were many scenes filmed at the car from which CitySleuth chose examples for this post, revealing the location, and the next post, focusing on the interior.

    Here's an undated photo of the railcar used in the movie.  Originally built by Pullman in 1913 as a sleeper, it was converted in 1931 to a buffet lounge car and given the number 653.  For the next 34 years it saw service with Western Pacific until being retired in 1965 - for a time it was part of the Exposition Flyer that ran between Chicago and Oakland via the Sierra Nevada mountains by way of the Feather River Valley.  It was acquired in 1966 by the Western Railway Museum in Solano County, California (map) where it is still on display.  The moviemakers leased it from the museum and transported it by rail to the end of a spur line in South San Francisco for the filming.

 

Then ...  Harold's hearse-ified Jaguar is parked alongside the railcar on the north side of Oyster Point Boulevard, South San Francisco, between Eccles Avenue and Gull Drive (map).  An added covered patio serves as a convenient entry.

... and Now,  Oyster Point Boulevard was previously named Butler Road; the roadside spur line was removed when the road was widened into a divided highway and renamed.  What if the railcar could be returned to the same spot? ...  click to bring it back.

 

Then ...  CitySleuth was able to estimate the railcar site by triangulation from two of the exterior shots.  First, as Maude is helped up to the patio we see, across the street, a building which is still there. 

... and Now,  the same building, viewed from today's median.

 

Then ...  And second, to the left of that building, across from Maude's mailbox, there's a hydrant and an empty lot.

... and Now,  an office building has since been built on the lot but the hydrant is at or very close to the same place, serving as a point of reference.

    The roadside rail spur is shown on this USGS map: rail tracks and buildings that were there in 1956 are shown in black.  Added structures as of 1979 are shown in purple, including both buildings described above across the road from the arrow pointing to where the railcar was.

    CitySleuth also created this aerial overlay of Then (a 1968 image) and Now (a Google Earth Image) of the railcar location.  Click the image to toggle between 1968 and Now.  X marks the spot.

 

Then ...  When Harold drives away from the railcar (it's on the right), the railroad crossing ahead is for the spur line track where it crosses the road as shown on the map above.

... and Now,  no tracks cross today so there are no crossing signs - they would have been just past the Eccles Avenue junction.  The building at far left across the median is the same as the one above, and new offices - the green building - have since been built next to it.

 

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