Friday, January 4, 2008

San Francisco Hotel Project5

Winter Morning - Hyde Street


(r-l) CENTRAL CITY SRO COLLABORATIVE, LA VOZ LATINA, HYDE ST. STUDIOS, COSMOPOLITAN APARTMENTS - 259-255, 251, 245, 225 HYDE ST.

Central City SRO Collaborative (formerly Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distribution Corp.). 1930. Architects: O'Brien Bros. & W.D. Peugh. 2 stories, stucco facade w/lion heads.
Common space for CCSROC & La Voz Latina (Formerly United Artists, Inc.). 1930. Architects: O'Brien Bros. & W.D. Peugh. 2 stories, Art Deco stucco facade, tragic/comic masks w/collars & ties.
La Voz Latina (Formerly RKO Distributing Corp.) 1930. Architects: O'Brien Bros. & W.D. Peugh. 2 stories, Art Deco stucco facade.
Hyde St. Studios (formerly Fox Film Corp., then Wally Heider Studios). 1931. Probable architects: O'Brien Bros. & W.D. Peugh. 2 stories, Art Deco stucco facade.
Cosmopolitan Apartments (formerly Hotel LaSalle). 1927. Designer unknown. 6 stories, stucco facade, base totally altered.

Hotel Ambassador



AMBASSADOR HOTEL - 55 MASON STREET
1911 & 1922. Architects: Earl B. Scott & K. McDonald. 6 stories, brick & stucco facade.

The Ambassador was originally the Ferris Harriman Theater and Hotel. In 1923, following additional construction, it was rechristened with its current name. The theater was converted to a garage in 1929. The hotel was the home of science fiction and true crime writer Miriam Allen de Ford from 1936 until her death in 1975. She is perhaps best known for her book The Real Bonnie and Clyde, published in 1968.

The Real Bonnie & Clyde © 1968, Ace Books

Labels: 55 Mason, Ambassador Hotel

Exit Theater


EXIT THEATER: STOREFRONT, WILLIAM PENN HOTEL - 156 EDDY ST.
"San Francisco's center for experimental theatre since 1983, Exit Theatre draws audiences for cutting-edge performances staged in three intimate venues, all with a bohemian cabaret atmosphere. Exit Theatre is also the producer of the annual San Francisco Fringe Festival. Exit Theatre, Exit Stage Left, and Exit Café are located at 156 Eddy Street."

YMCA


SHIH YU-LANG CENTRAL YMCA - 220 GOLDEN GATE AVE.
YMCA (Shih Yu-Lang Central YMCA, 2002). Athletic facilities, offices, classrooms, auditorium, and hotel with 207 rooms and 55 baths. 1909. Architects: McDougall Brothers. 8 stories, steel frame structure with brick walls, granite and terra cotta trim, rusticated base with bronze sconces, galvanized iron cornice; 2-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation. Vestibule: Ionic pedimented portico in terra cotta with bronze arched window. Alterations: doorway, entry pediment, many aluminum windows, painted terra cotta, lobby remodeled. Built with funds raised in the East after the 1906 fire.

Summer Day - O'Farrell St.


BEN HUR APTS. - 400 HYDE ST., SOVEREIGN APTS., ADA COURT APTS., FARLOW APTS., ALLEN GARAGE, APARTMENT BLDG., APARTMENTS - 666, 656, 646, 640, 628 & 626 O'FARRELL ST.
Ben Hur Apts. c.1926. Designer unknown. 7 stories, stucco facade, chariots on spandrel panels.
Sovereign Apts. 1924. Architects: Baumann & Jose. 5 stories, stucco facade, free-standing, high entry arch.
Ada Court Apts. (formerly Hermione Apts.). c.1916. Designer unknown. 5 stories, brick & galvanized iron facade.
Farlow Apts. (formerly Madrone Apts.). 1915. Architect: C.O. Clausen. 3 stories, Flemish bond brick & galvanized iron facade, cornice removed.
Allen Garage. 1924. Architects: O'Brien Bros. 2 stories, stucco facade, Tudor ornament.
Apartment Bldg. 1921. Contractor: Monson Bros. 4 stories, stucco facade, cornice & base altered.
Apartments & restaurant (formerly Annandale House). 1908. Architect: George A. Dodge. 3 stories, brick facade, entry remodeled in Art Deco style, base recently remodeled.

The side wall of the former Annandale House was the subject of Time Portal. The Snow Bell Laundromat has been replaced by the Dim Sum Bar, a major improvement, although Harlem Alley is now gated, making that wonderful side wall inaccessible. The Annandale was occupied as a private hospital in 1929 and the ground floor was a Safeway store in 1937.

View from Natoma Street


447 MINNA ST. (rear), CHRONICLE HOTEL, HILTON TOWER I
There are still places south of Market Street, mostly on narrow back streets between the main thoroughfares, where the buildings have stood unchanged for a century, remnants of a vibrant past; survivors of the "slash and burn" tactics of urban renewal.

447 Minna Street

Labels: 447 Minna, Chronicle Hotel, Hilton Tower, SoMa

Cadillac Hotel's 100th Anniversary

Labels: 380 Eddy, Hotel Cadillac

Sunset - The Cadillac


CADILLAC HOTEL – 380 EDDY ST.
1907. Architects: Meyer & O'Brien. 4 stories, brick & terra cotta facade, E-plan.

Owned and operated by Leroy and Kathy Looper's Reality House West since 1977, the Cadillac was the first non profit-owned SRO in California. It was the model for supportive housing as a means to reduce homelessness in San Francisco. Leroy's numerous contributions to the community have had a deep and lasting impact and have assured him of an honored place in the City's history. His title of "Father of the Tenderloin" is well-deserved.

Labels: 380 Eddy, Hotel Cadillac, Hotel Elm

Antonia Manor


ANTONIA MANOR - 180 TURK ST.
(Formerly Hotel Governor). 1925. Architect: Creston H. Jensen. 10 stories, stucco facade, double-hung aluminum sash, new base & entry, new marquee.

Nicely renovated by TNDC, the Antonia is home to Mimi's Manor House restaurant, one of my long-time favorite Tenderloin eateries. The portions are huge, the prices unbelievably low; plus, I am completely infatuated with Mimi herself, a real gem in this or any other neighborhood. The entrance to the restaurant is on Jones St. (bottom left in the photo).

Labels: 180 Turk, Antonia Manor, Mimi's Manor House

Dalt


DALT HOTEL - 34 TURK ST.
1910. Architect: Charles W. Dickey. 7 stories, brick facade, base & entry altered, new marquee.

The Dalt is yet another acquisition of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, which has been renovated and now serves as supportive housing. Next to the Dalt is McDonald's Bookstore (also known as "A Dirty, Poorly-lit Place for Books"), the place to go for bibliophiles in the know.


DALT HOTEL LOBBY

Labels: 34 Turk, Dalt Hotel

Loving Life


SERGE ECHEVERRIA - TENDERLOIN RESIDENT, SPAULDING HOTEL
I occasionally meet with Serge, my remarkable friend of Chilean origin, to catch up on what's happened since the last time we met. It has been our habit to meet at a coffee house so that we can imbibe hot chocolate as we talk, a ritual we have shared since the beginning of our friendship. We first met in 2002 at a campaign kickoff party for our district supervisor. Refreshments at the party included several huge, chocolate flat cakes, of which I had several large pieces. A tall, slender gentleman in his 60's or 70's, with bright, deep-set eyes and aristocratic features, helped himself to some cake and sat down next to me. I made some comment about my love of chocolate, to which he replied that the sharing of a hot cacao beverage, while seated under a cacao tree, was central to the Toltec's concept of friendship. I remembered reading something about the Toltecs in a book published by the National Geographic Society many years before, but whatever I learned had been lost in time. Serge shared his extensive knowledge with me, revealing that he had even translated some of the Toltec's poetry. The campaign party receded into background noise as we conversed and thus our friendship was begun. We continue to share the ritual drinking of hot chocolate in honor of that beginning.

Just Passing Through

(VANTAGE POINT - 835 GEARY ST.)
I was seated at an outside table at a little coffee house on Geary St., waiting for Serge. As I watched the flow of humanity on the sidewalks before me, I began to reflect on the transient nature of life and was inspired to take this photograph.

We have come to dream.
Suddenly we come out of the dream...
And we have only come to dream.
It is not true, it is not true that we have come
to live upon this earth.
Our lives are as the grass in spring.
Our hearts give birth to flowers from our flesh
and make them germinate.
Some open their corollas, others fade.
You have lived your songs, opened your flowers,
lived your lives!

A Toltec poem, translated through the Spanish by Serge Echeverria
Just Passing Through is available as a 12" x 18" poster.

Labels: Serge Echeverria, Tendernob

Ellis & Mason


EED'S CORNER SALOON, THAI NOODLE CAFE & HOSTEL - 201 ELLIS ST.
(First occupants: "cigar store, boot black stand, saloon, and two stores", rooming house with 25 rooms and 11 baths; later, Diamond Hotel). 1910. Architect: Smith O'Brien. 3 stories, decorative brickwork with marble inlay, galvanized iron belt course and cornice.

One of the eastern entries to the Tenderloin at one of my favorite times of day.

Labels: 201 Ellis

Sunrise - The Ambassador


AMBASSADOR HOTEL - 55 MASON STREET
1911 & 1922. Architects: Earl B. Scott & K. McDonald. 6 stories, brick & stucco facade.

An early morning view of the Ambassador, showing its nicely restored neon sign.

Labels: 55 Mason, Ambassador Hotel

Dusk - Harriet Alley


PARKING LOT - HARRIET ALLEY
This photo captures the raw, post-industrial atmosphere that has, unfortunately, almost completely vanished from the south of Market landscape.

Labels: SoMa

Golden Era


SWEDEN HOUSE HOTEL, ABBEY GARAGE, FARALLONE APTS., COAST HOTEL - 570, 550, 540, 516 O'FARRELL ST.
Sweden House Hotel (formerly Hotel Stratton). c.1907. Designer unknown. 3 stories, brick facade with painted terra cotta trim.
Abbey Garage. 1924. Architect: W.H. Crim, Jr. 2 stories, stucco facade, gargoyles.
Farallone Apartments. 1922. Architect: August G. Headman. 6 stories, stucco facade, griffins-supported balcony/door head, door grill.
Coast Hotel (formerly Hotel Shawmut). 1912. Architect: L.B. Dutton. 6 stories, brick facade with terra cotta details, some store sash & prism glass transoms intact.

The name of the vegetarian restaurant in the lower level of the Sweden House Hotel is also an apt name for the time in San Francisco's history (between 1906 & 1925) during which nearly all of the existing structures in the Tenderloin were built. The images in this posting, all of which are part of a survey of the Tenderloin being submitted to the National Register of Historic Places, position some of the buildings found elsewhere in this blog within the larger context of the neighborhood streets on which they can be found.

Lower Leavenworth

(far left) ST. GEORGE (K & H) HOTEL - 395 EDDY ST.; McALLISTER TOWER - 100 McALLISTER ST.; YMCA - 220 GOLDEN GATE AVE.; PAGE HOTEL, HOTEL HURLEY, IVANHOE APTS., APARTMENT BLDG., GRAND RAPIDS APTS., APARTMENT BLDG. - 161, 201, 223, 237, 245, 255 LEAVENWORTH ST.; ALLEN HOTEL - 411 EDDY ST.

Lower Turk

HELEN HOTEL, STAR GARAGE, BOSTON HOTEL, BUILDING, CAMELOT HOTEL, YOUTH HOSTEL CENTRALE - 166, 150, 140, 132, 124, 116 TURK ST.; TAYLOR ST. CENTER, WARFIELD HOTEL - 111, 118 TAYLOR ST.

Turk & Taylor

WARFIELD HOTEL - 118 TAYLOR ST.; BUILDING, DAHLIA HOTEL, ARANDA HOTEL, BUILDING, DALT HOTEL, HOTEL METROPOL - 76, 74, 64, 50, 34, 16 TURK ST.

Jones & Geary

HOTEL ST. CLAIRE - 595 GEARY ST.; HOTEL NAZARETH, BUILDING, HOTEL PIERRE, BUILDING, PACIFIC BAY INN, ABBEY APTS., APARTMENT BLDG., RIVEIRA HOTEL - 556, 548, 540, 532, 520, 450, 424, 420 JONES ST.; HOTEL MENTONE - 387 ELLIS ST.

O'Farrell Street

AMBIKA HOTEL, EDGEWORTH HOTEL, CRISTOBAL APTS., O'FARRELL GARAGE, APARTMENT BLDG., GARAGE - 788, 770, 750, 740, 730, 720 O'FARRELL ST.

Jones & Ellis

MENDEL APTS., ALDRICH HOTEL - 415, 439 JONES ST.; GARLAND HOTEL, COAST HOTEL - 505, 516 O'FARRELL ST.; (far right) RIVEIRA HOTEL - 420 JONES ST.

View from the Empire Market

CADILLAC HOTEL, HOTEL ELM, EDDYSTONE APTS., PENWELL APTS., HOTEL HERALD - 380, 364, 340, 326, 308 EDDY ST.

O'Farrell & Leavenworth

HARDING APTS., FARRELWORTH APTS., HAMILTON HOTEL (now condos) - 595, 601, 631 O'FARRELL ST.

Upper Tenderloin

ST. ANTHONY APTS. - 795 GEARY ST., REYNOLDS APTS., ARCADIA APTS. - 534, 522 HYDE ST.
St. Anthony Apts. c.1912. Designer unknown. 6 stories, brick facade, glavanized iron balconies.
Reynolds apts. 1912. Architects: Hladik & Thayer. 3 stories, stucco facade.
Arcadia Apts. c.1910. Designer unknown. 4 stories, stucco facade, pilastered lobby.

In San Francisco, property values tend to increase in direct proportion to both altitude and due North on the compass.

Leavenworth above Eddy

HOTEL VERONA, APARTMENT BLDG., WESTERN HOTEL, APARTMENT BLDG. - 317, 325, 335 & 345 LEAVENWORTH ST.
Hotel Verona. (Formerly Rosslyn Hotel, Burbank Hotel). c. 1910. Designer unknown. 6 stories, Flemish bond brick and galvanized iron facade, beamed lobby.
Apartment Building. 1907. Architects: John & Zimmerman. 3 stories, brick facade, base altered.
Western Hotel. (Formerly Hotel Rocklin, Hotel Blank). 1907. Architects: Welsh & Carey. 4 stories, painted brick & galvanized iron facade.
Apartment Building. c. 1919. Designer unknown. 4 stories, painted brick & stucco facade, new door.


TO BE CONTINUED!

Labels: Tenderloin Survey

Magic Hour


(VANTAGE POINT: EAST ENTRY STEPS - CITY HALL)
The northeast view from City Hall encompasses four districts. Some of the flags that line Civic Center Plaza flutter in the foreground. Behind the Civic Center steam plant stack, which looms over the northeast corner of McAllister and Larkin, is the McAllister Hotel, an SRO. In back of the hotel is part of Hastings Law School and to its left are the Rainbow Apartments. Representing the Tenderloin are the red brick Oasis Apartments, facing one of the Mosser Towers to the left across Turk St. and dwarfed by the monolithic Hilton S.F. Tower I. The dome flying the American flag is part of the Hilton complex. Arguably the most famous building in the Union Square District, the St. Francis Hotel is seen here to the left and behind the Oasis. A Financial District landmark at 555 California St., the red granite Bank of America building is twelve blocks distant, as the crow flies.

Labels: Civic Center, Hilton Tower, Oasis Hotel

Alhambra



ALHAMBRA APARTMENTS - 860 GEARY ST.
1913. Architect: James F. Dunn. 6 stories, stucco & painted terra cotta facade, cusped Moorish arches, loggia, penthouse, dome, fantasy lobby.

The Alhambra's most famous tenant was Rudolph Valentino, who used the penthouse and dome as his San Francisco playhouse, where he could play with his boytoys away from the bright lights and prying eyes of Hollywood.

Labels: 860 Geary, Alhambra Apartments, Tendernob

Aarti


AARTI COOPERATIVE HOTEL - 391 LEAVENWORTH ST.
(Formerly Hotel Adams, later Hotel Lenard). 1906. Architects: Salfield & Kohlberg. 4 stories, painted clinker & smooth brick facade.

The first building purchased by the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (1981), the Aarti became a joint project between TNDC and Conard House, a non profit provider of assistance to people with mental health issues.

Labels: 391 Leavenworth, Aarti Hotel

Detective Story



CRAWFORD APARTMENTS - 620 EDDY ST.
1910. Contractor: Mess-Nicholson Co. 4 stories, stucco facade, a little ornament missing.

In 1923, the pioneering crime fiction magazine Black Mask published Dashiell Hammett's story Arson Plus, which introduced the character known as "the Continental Op"; an otherwise nameless San Francisco detective agency operative. Hammett was at the beginning of his writing career, eking out a living with income from his pulp fiction and from book reviews published by Forum, a literary journal. During that time, before he became famous, he resided at the Crawford Apartments.

Labels: 620 Eddy, Crawford Apartments

Tenderloin Chronicles


INTERSECTION - ELLIS & LARKIN
I photographed my shadow as it led me in pursuit of the muse on a chilly April afternoon, while passing by the Marathon Hotel on Ellis St.

Labels: Marathon Hotel

Earle


EARLE HOTEL - 248 GOLDEN GATE AVE.
1913. Architect: Charles E.J. Rogers. 3 stories, brick & galvanized iron facade.

The most interesting aspect of the Earle is the side wall, which shows the roof lines of now-departed neighboring buildings.

Labels: 248 Golden Gate, Earle Hotel

Zubelda


CALIFORNIA HOTEL - 910 GEARY ST.
(formerly Hotel Toronto; later Wesley Hotel, Leahi Hotel). c.1909. Designer unknown. 3 stories, stucco facade, base redone, aluminum sash.

While working on a survey of the Tenderloin, I discovered another very old painted advertisement; one that has weathered the ravages of time quite well, considering that it is nearly one hundred years old.

Labels: 910 Geary, California Hotel, Painted Advertisements, Tendernob

Briscoe


BRISCOE APARTMENTS - 946 GEARY ST.
c. 1916. Designer unknown. 3 stories, brick & galvanized iron facade.

The Briscoe is just a few doors up Geary from the California Hotel and next to the perennially popular watering hole, the Edinburgh Castle. All are a part of what is locally known as the Tendernob, the area where the somewhat fuzzy boundaries of the Tenderloin and lower Nob Hill overlap.

Labels: 946 Geary, Briscoe Apartments, Tendernob

Sentinel



McALLISTER TOWER - 100 McALLISTER ST.
(Originally Temple Methodist Church and William Taylor Hotel). 1927. Architects: Miller & Pfleuger and Lewis P. Hobart. 28 stories, steel frame structure with brick walls; articulated steel frame with recessed copper spandrels; set-back skyscraper; Gothic ornamentation.

A few months after I captured this image, I had the pleasure of gazing down at the City from the observation deck of the tower at 100 McAllister St., a remarkable building that appears in a number of my Tenderloin and South of Market photographs. Built by the Methodist Church, it first opened as the luxury William Taylor Hotel in 1929; then in 1936 the building was sold and reopened as the Empire Hotel. While its status as the tallest hotel west of the Mississippi was short-lived, at a height of 28 stories it remained by far the tallest building in the Tenderloin until the encroachment of the 493 foot Hilton San Francisco Tower I in 1971. The purchase of the McAllister tower in 1981 by Hastings Law School ensures that this neighborhood landmark, still undergoing long-term and very expensive restoration, will be well cared for long into the future.


Reverend William Taylor,
from the frontispiece of his book
Seven Years' Street Preaching
in San Francisco, California


David Seward, CFO for U.C. Hastings, kindly took me on a personal tour of the tower, including a visit to the spot which I had long coveted, but which is accessible to just a handful of people – the very top of the building, where I was able to walk around in the open air, 27 stories above the street, with the Tenderloin, Civic Center and South of Market spread out before me! Our time was limited, so I was able to take only a few photographs. If you examine them closely, you can see where some of the buildings in this blog are located. Here are some views from 27 stories up:

Downtown


Nob Hill


Boundary Lines


Hive


Intersect


Turk & Jones


Grant Building


For Sale

Labels: 100 McAllister, Empire Hotel, McAllister Tower

Hibernia Dome


HIBERNIA BANK - #1 JONES STREET
1892. Architect: Albert Pissis

A closeup of the Hibernia's beautiful dome, photographed one morning in springtime. In the background is the Renoir Hotel.

Labels: 1 Jones St., Albert Pissis, Hibernia Bank, Market Street

Battambang


MANILA TOWNHOUSE APARTMENTS - 335 EDDY ST.
(formerly Estelle Apartments). c.1916. Designer unknown. 3 stories, stucco & galvanized iron facade, base altered.

The two most compelling features of this building are its signs, both new and old. The Cambodian calligraphy of the Battambang Market and the antique, shield-shaped sign offer an interesting juxtaposition of cultures and times.

Labels: 335 Eddy

Herald


HERALD HOTEL - 308 EDDY ST.
1910. Architect: Alfred Henry Jacobs. 7 stories, brick & terra cotta facade, base partly restored.

Now that it has been restored, the Herald is one of the most glamorous buildings in the Tenderloin.

Labels: 308 Eddy, Herald Hotel

Musicians Union


MUSICIAN'S UNION - 230 JONES ST.
1924. Architect: Sylvain Schnaittacher. 3 stories, brick & terra cotta facade, arcaded piano nobile.

Designed by the man who was then president of the local A.I.A., the Musician's Union Hall is now occupied by the San Francisco Rescue Mission. During the 1970's, there were still clubs in the Tenderloin where live music was played every night. I was a regular at one of those clubs, on Mason St. near Eddy, though I have forgotten its name. It was actually just a little hole-in-the-wall bar that had an old upright piano, but every night it featured the incredible jazz improvisations of a wizened and frail-looking pianist who was, I learned, one of the founders of the San Francisco Musician's Union.

Labels: 230 Jones, Musicians Union

William Penn


WILLIAM PENN HOTEL - 160 EDDY ST.
(formerly Hotel Cecil; later Hotel Kern). 1906. Architect: Albert Pissis. 4 stories, brick, arched entry, quoined windows, new door.

The architect of the famous Hibernia Bank Building at 1 Jones St. also designed the William Penn, which was constructed soon after the earthquake and fire of 1906. Next to the William Penn, looking eastward, are the Empress, Crystal and Bijou hotels, with the Parc Renaissance Hotel looming in the background.


Detail, showing fire escape
and arched entry.

Labels: 160 Eddy, Albert Pissis, William Penn Hotel

Union



HOTEL UNION - 811 GEARY ST.
(formerly Rhodema Hotel, later San Carlos Hotel). 1925. Architects: Smith & Glass. 6 stories, painted brick facade, marquee.

From 1969 to 1977, science fiction, fantasy and horror writer Fritz Leiber lived at the Union Hotel, in Room 507. My introduction to Fritz Leiber's writing was The Mind Spider & Other Stories, a paperback collection of his short horror stories that I bought in 1962. I was twelve years old and had a voracious appetite for horror, which I fed with a steady stream of thirty-five cent paperbacks. By the time I finished reading The Mind Spider, I was a devotee of Fritz Leiber. Fortunately for me, Leiber was a prolific writer and I continued to buy his books until the mid-'80s, making most of my purchases at City Lights Books after moving to San Francisco in 1968. One of the first books by Leiber that I bought from City Lights was Our Lady of Darkness, which takes place in San Francisco. The story's protagonist, a literary simulacrum of Leiber, lives in a hotel at 811 Geary Street. Such a thrill it was to read this story, one of his best, replete with descriptions of places and landmarks that were just beginning to feel familiar to me. God, I loved living here! I still do.

Night Monsters © 1969, Panther Books

Labels: 811 Geary, Fritz Leiber, Union Hotel

Windeler


WINDELER APARTMENTS - 424 ELLIS ST
1915. Architect: August Nordin. 6 stories, brick & painted terracotta facade, fine brickwork and terracotta trim, aluminum sash.

Though somewhat austere when compared to his other buildings, the Windeler nevertheless bears the unmistakable imprimatur of its designer, August Nordin; namely, the unique "wedding cake" cornice, string course and ornamentation. For further enlightenment, please refer to Rainy Day Sunset.

Labels: 424 Ellis, August Nordin, Windeler Apartments

Jones Hotel


JONES HOTEL - 515 JONES ST.
(formerly Hotel Bruce, later Newport Hotel). 1913. Architect: Joseph Cahen. 3 stories, galvanized iron facade.

Tucked behind the Coast Hotel and across the street from the Pacific Bay Inn is the Jones Hotel; a charming, little doll house with French windows and beautiful green and black glazed tile around the entrance.

Labels: 515 Jones, Jones Hotel

Edgeworth


EDGEWORTH HOTEL - 770 O'FARRELL ST.
1914. Architect: W.J. Cuthbertson. 3 stories, brick facade, aluminum sash.

Whenever I see this building my mind is flooded with memories of my distant past. I grew up in a mid-western city, in a white-collar neighborhood on the east side of town. The west side, known as the Hilltop, was predominantly blue-collar. My mother's parents, Grandma and Grandpa Tobin, lived on the Hilltop, in a large, working-class house of dark red brick with white-painted trim, on a street lined with huge, old elm trees. Other streets in that part of town were lined with apartment buildings and rooming houses that looked very much like the Edgeworth, except that many of them had storefronts on the ground floor. One such storefront, on Sullivant Ave., was a tavern known as the tap room, as it only served beer.

The proprietor of this establishment was my other grandma, Bertha Ellinger. She would sometimes take care of me for a day or two when my parents wanted some time off. If Grandma E. had to work while I was staying with her, she would just take me along. A bottle of "pop" from the cooler, potato chips, and a Swiss cheese sandwich on rye bread with French's yellow mustard would keep me occupied for a little while as she tended the bar. On hot, summer days it was always dark and cool in the tap room. Bertha's clientele, all of them blue-collar workers, were friendly with me and would sometimes tease me because I was quiet. Grandma E's stern, Germanic nature did not inspire frivolity.

Strange, how these long-lost memories are brought into sudden, sharp focus by the Edgeworth, a hotel more than 2,000 miles and half a century away from my childhood.

Labels: 770 O'Farrell, Edgeworth Hotel

6th Street Beautification


STREET-LEVEL 6th STREET
The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency has been trying for years to beautify 6th Street. Their efforts have primarily consisted of widening the sidewalks, installing new street lights, planting $10,000. palm trees at the intersections of 6th & Mission and 6th & Howard Streets and hanging banners from the new street lights that proclaim 6th Street is being beautified. Urban Solutions, a non-profit arm of the Redevelopment Agency, has been busy repainting 6th Street building facades and replacing historic neon signs with cheap canvas awnings. I offer here some recent street-level views of 6th Street so that you may judge for yourself just how successful these expensive beautification programs have been.

6th & Jessie


6th & Mission


Club Six


6th Street in Winter


Beer, Liquor, Wine — Jesus Cares

Labels: 6th Street, SoMa

A New View



DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO from 7th & BRANNAN STREETS
16 October 2006, I moved into a beautiful, new studio apartment about six blocks away from the 6th St. hotel I had lived in for nearly six years. It took a couple of months for me to become acclimated to my new living situation. Twelve years earlier life lost meaning for me and I entered a dark night of the soul, living on the streets for six years as a homeless junkie. Narrowly escaping death, I reclaimed my stake in life during a ten week stay in hospital. Over the following six years I gradually reinvented myself. This photographic series played a major role in the process of recovery and reinvention. The buildings I photographed have become a permanent part of my psyche, just as the people who live and work in them have become a permanent part of my life.

The views from my new rooftop are very different from what I saw while standing atop the roof of my old hotel. While awe-inspiring in their own way, they have no soul. This is the legacy of downtown development and urban renewal.

Labels: Downtown, SoMa

October Fog


SARATOGA APTS. - 1008 LARKIN ST., LAUREL APTS. - 970 POST ST.
Late one afternoon in October, I took a walk through the Tenderloin with fellow photographer Theo Rigby, who was taking photos for a feature article about residential hotels. I had the honor of being his subject while I photographed shining, golden vistas of old buildings transmogrified by the setting sun (see Incandescent).

We covered a lot of ground that day. As the sun sank below the horizon we found ourselves roaming the Tendernob, a problematic borderland between the Tenderloin and Nob Hill. I was babbling about my fascination with Classical-revival fabrications of galvanized iron, terra cotta, stucco and brick when, as if on cue, we came across two buildings that perfectly delineated what I was trying to describe.


Photo © 2006, Theo Rigby

Labels: 1008 Larkin, 970 Post, Laurel Apartments, Saratoga Apartments, Tendernob

6th & Natoma


ST. CLOUD HOTEL - 170 6TH STREET
The building on the far left is the St. Cloud Hotel, a wood frame rooming house with a storefront occupied by the San Francisco Mission, now City Team Ministries, a respite for the City's dregs that has been in operation for over 107 years. The yellow building behind the St. Cloud is part of the Dudley Hotel, a renovated SRO that now operates as non-profit housing.

Labels: 170 6th St., 6th Street, Dudley Hotel, SoMa, St. Cloud Hotel

Chronicle


CHRONICLE HOTEL - 936 MISSION ST.
The Chronicle Hotel is located a couple of doors away from the Alkain and across Mission Street from its namesake, the San Francisco Chronicle. If awards were given for old residential hotel signs in San Francisco, the Chronicle Hotel would win hands-down for "Most Illegible".

Labels: 936 Mission, Chronicle Hotel, SoMa

Incandescent


COAST HOTEL - 516 O'FARRELL ST., PACIFIC BAY INN - 520 JONES ST., FIFTH CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST - 450 O'FARRELL ST.
Fifth Church of Christ Scientist. 1923. Architect: Carl Werner. 2 stories, steel and reinforced concrete structure, stucco facade, Greek Tuscan order with decorative panels, vents with clathery, cornice, stained glass side windows; temple composition; Greek classical ornamentation. Vestibule: marble steps, bronze doors with decorative friezes and clathery. Signs: “Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist” at each end, marble cornerstone with “1923”. Alterations: chain link fence across front.

This image exemplifies why I love San Francisco so much. Fiery sunsets such as this set my mind and emotions ablaze, making life's problems seem mere trifles; elevating me to some higher plane of awareness by making me conscious of what a tiny cog I am in the vast machinery of the Universe.

Labels: Coast Hotel, Fifth Church of Christ Scientist, Pacific Bay Inn, Painted Advertisements, Shawmut Hotel

Golden Gate Theater


GOLDEN GATE THEATER - 1 TAYLOR ST.
1922. Architect: G. Albert Landsburgh (also designed Warfield Theater & S. F. Opera House). 8 stories, dome, arcaded top story, brick & fine terra cotta facade, wrought iron balconets, entry & marquee altered, storefronts boarded shut.

The Golden Gate Theater stands at one of the busiest entries to the Tenderloin. Featuring vaudeville, the theater first opened its doors in 1922. Over the years, theatergoers saw everything from the Marx Brothers to Cinerama. Most recently, it has been a venue for Broadway shows, including Rent; the film version of which was shot less than a block away on 6th Street.

The building's owner, one of the wealthiest men in San Francisco, has kept its office space at 25 Taylor St. vacant for over a decade and closed down its retail spaces on Golden Gate Ave. The terracotta and wrought iron details of this Art Deco palace have suffered greatly from neglect and the five-story neon signs haven't worked in ages. In the bright light of day, the building's exterior looks tawdry and run-down, and at street level, except for the theater entrance, it appears to be abandoned.

Labels: Golden Gate Theater, Market Street, neon signs

A New Day


HAMLIN, K & H and ALLEN HOTELS - 385, 395 & 411 EDDY ST.
The brickwork of the K & H (St. George) Hotel is exceptionally beautiful, with its suggestion of a columned arcade. The cornice is of an unusual design that compliments the columns and arches perfectly. The intersection of Eddy and Leavenworth is to me one of the most photogenic locales in the Tenderloin, so the buildings surrounding it appear in a number of my images.

Labels: Allen Hotel, Hotel St. George, K and H Hotel, Painted Advertisements

Early Morning - Eddy Street


JEFFERSON, FAIRFAX & KINNEY HOTELS - 440, 420 & 410 EDDY ST.; HOTEL VERONA - 317 LEAVENWORTH ST.; CADILLAC HOTEL - 380 EDDY ST.
My favorite stretch of Eddy St., photographed at my favorite time of day.

Labels: Hotel Cadillac, Hotel Fairfax, Hotel Jefferson, Hotel Kinney, Hotel Verona

Jefferson


HOTEL JEFFERSON - 440 EDDY ST.
(formerly Hotel Ormond) 1906. Architect: M.J. Lyon. 5 stories, brick, terracotta & granite facade.

The Jefferson was the first SRO to be purchased and renovated by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and converted to supportive housing. Especially at night, the hotel looks like the setting for an old Alfred Hitchcock film.

Labels: Hotel Jefferson

Reflection #2


LAWRENCE & HILLSDALE HOTELS - 48 & 51 6th ST.
I was standing in the middle of Jessie Alley just off of 6th Street when I took this photograph of the Lawrence and Hillsdale hotels. On the street level of the Lawrence is a very trendy nightclub called Club Six. Before it became Club Six, the ground floor was a decades-old bar named Frisco, a name that I loved for its glaring perversity.

At one time, calling San Francisco "Frisco" would have curdled the blood of a native San Franciscan, or anyone who had lived here long enough to feel a native's sense of pride for the City of Saint Francis. Alas, that pride in place seems to have all but entirely vanished, having been replaced by the morès of the culture of greed.

Labels: 6th Street, Club Six, Hillsdale Hotel, Lawrence Hotel, SoMa

Dawn - Hotel Alder


HOTEL ALDER - 175 6TH STREET
Renovation of the Alder was completed mid-2006 and the hotel is once again open for business. The hotel's neon sign was also refurbished. It is the only neon sign remaining on 6th Street, thanks largely to the Six on Sixth plan, a loan program for property and business owners that is, in effect, run by the redevelopment agency through the non-profit Urban Solutions.

In an attempt to modernize the street, the program director encouraged loan applicants to replace their historic but decayed neon signs with inexpensive canvas awnings. The result was a disaster. The canvas awnings subvert the visual and historical integrity of the neighborhood, which could have been enhanced in a most striking way by restoring the neon signs.

Labels: 6th Street, Hotel Alder, neon signs, SoMa

Page


PAGE HOTEL - 161 LEAVENWORTH STREET
(formerly Page Apartments) 1907. Architect: Martens & Coffey. 4 stories, brick facade, base painted.

The Page Hotel sits at the intersection of Leavenworth and Turk Streets, one of the Tenderloin's riskier locations, especially after dark. Drug dealers abound and battles of their ongoing turf wars are occasionally fought here. On the other side of Turk Street, visible to the right, is the Hotel Hurley.

Labels: Hotel Hurley, neon signs, Page Hotel

Hospitality House


HOSPITALITY HOUSE - 146 LEAVENWORTH ST.
Across Leavenworth from the Page and providing a counterbalance to the dark side is Hospitality House, an open art studio with classes and its own gallery that serves both the neighborhood's homeless and residents of SROs. Anyone who wants to explore self-expression in nearly any medium but hasn't the means to buy materials or a studio to work in is welcome there.

Defenestration


HUGO HOTEL - 6th & HOWARD STREETS
2006 marks the tenth anniversary of the derelict Hugo Hotel's sculptural mural Defenestration. Most of the sideshow-themed paintings that were part of the original installation have been painted over, but the remarkable graffiti that has appeared in recent years more than makes up for their loss. The escaping furniture has remained completely intact, despite a decade of constant exposure to the elements.

I admire the building as a work of public art, but the underlying reality is that its owners have allowed the hotel to sit empty and deteriorating for eighteen years because they have been unable to find anyone willing to pay the outrageous price they are asking for it. Their outspoken contempt* for those who are less fortunate reflects an attitude that for years was tacitly encouraged by the policies of local government.

*"They can put the low-income people somewhere else... you can be homeless somewhere in Idaho." — Varsha Patel, owner, Hugo Hotel

Labels: 6th and Howard, Defenestration, Hugo Hotel, SoMa

Bristol Hotel


BRISTOL HOTEL - 56 MASON ST.
(formerly The Athens lodgings; later Hotel Belmont) c.1908. Designer unknown. 4 stories, painted brick facade, base altered below string course.

Across Mason St. from the Ambassador Hotel is the Bristol, a hotel with many problems, not the least of which is an ongoing rodent infestation. It is perhaps best known for having been the San Francisco residence of Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker.

Labels: Bristol Hotel

Ambassador


AMBASSADOR HOTEL - 55 MASON STREET
1911 & 1922. Architects: Earl B. Scott & K. McDonald. 6 stories, brick & stucco facade.

The Ambassador, renovated and operated as supportive housing by the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, is such a stately old building; I wanted to capture it in its entirety. "Full frontal" shots such as this have the inescapable look and feel of presentation photos, so I deliberately enhanced it to give it the appearance of an old postcard.

Labels: 55 Mason, Ambassador Hotel

West


WEST HOTEL - 141 EDDY STREET
(formerly Hotel Langham; later Hotel Dunloe, Hotel Zee) 1908. Architects: Cunningham & Politeo. 5 stories, painted brick & galvanized iron facade.

The West, located next to the Ambassador on Eddy Street, was recently rehabilitated, as was its jaunty neon sign. The hotel is now operated as supportive housing by the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Labels: neon signs, West Hotel

St. Boniface


ST.BONIFACE - 133 GOLDEN GATE AVENUE
St. Boniface is the home of San Francisco's Order of Franciscan Monks. It is located in the Tenderloin, next to the order's St. Anthony Foundation. Headed by Fr. John Hardin, a man of unflagging hope and energy, St. Anthony's provides clothing, shelter, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, social services, and feeds an average of 2,600 people every day of the year in its dining room. The foundation is funded entirely by private donations.

Labels: St. Anthony's, St. Boniface

Dawn - Hotel Boyd


HOTEL BOYD - 41 JONES STREET
The Boyd Hotel is sandwiched between the old Hibernia Bank and the St. Anthony Foundation. The hotel was recently renovated, except for its two beautiful, old neon signs. No other SRO can boast of having two neon signs. Comparing the Boyd's signs to those of the West and the Hurley, it is evident that the same sign company manufactured them all.

Labels: Hotel Boyd, neon signs

Roofscape


(VANTAGE POINT: PACIFIC BAY INN – 520 JONES ST.)
From the rooftop of the Garland Hotel to the spire atop the City Hall rotunda, the view here spans nearly seven city blocks. The building dominating the midground of this photograph is the 15 story Mosser Towers (formerly the Central Towers), low-income housing built in 1964 that consists of one-bedroom and studio apartments.

Labels: Garland Hotel, Mosser Tower

Hurley


HOTEL HURLEY - 201 LEAVENWORTH ST.
(formerly Kenyon Hotel, later Hotel DeWalt) 1914. Engineer: Albert W. Burgren. 6 stories, brick & galvanized iron facade.

The Hotel Hurley's sign is rather odd. Its spooky, dark-violet neon tubing is very dim and difficult to read from down the street, but it compliments the dark and gloomy colors of the building very nicely.

Labels: Hotel Hurley, neon signs

Neon - Pacific Bay Inn


PACIFIC BAY INN - 510 JONES STREET
(formerly Hotel Sequoia). 1907. Architects: Welsh & Carey. 7 stories, brick facade with painted terracotta entry, marquee.

The Pacific Bay Inn never turns off its neon sign, which allows for daytime images such as this one, shot against the backdrop of summertime fog coming in from the bay.

Labels: neon signs, Pacific Bay Inn

Hotel Mentone


HOTEL MENTONE - 387 ELLIS STREET
1913. Architects: Smith & Stewart. 6 stories, Flemish bond brick, stores & marquee intact, new door.

Most of the residential hotels in these photographs have been around for close to a century. Until 1930, 60% of San Franciscans were permanent hotel residents. Between 1975 and 1980, landowners eliminated 6,085 units, almost a fifth of the city's entire stock of residential hotel units. Today, the City's residential hotels house nearly 30,000 people.

Labels: Hotel Mentone, Painted Advertisements

National


NATIONAL HOTEL - 1139 MARKET STREET
Erected in 1906, the National Hotel is typical of rooming houses built to house a maximum number of occupants in a small space. There are storefronts at street level, while the hotel occupies the second and third stories. The building is long and narrow, with 45 roughly 10' by 10' rooms on each floor. There is no lobby: a room at the top of the stairs serves as the hotel office. The rooms all have small sinks and case closets; bathrooms are located at the end of the hallways in the back of the building. A window that opens onto a narrow light well provides room ventilation. Monthly rent in 2006 was $600.

Labels: Market Street, National Hotel

Kinney


HOTEL KINNEY - 410 EDDY STREET
(formerly Hotel Leo) 1907. Architect: Emil John. 4 stories, brick & imitation stone facade.

Seven years after being closed because of fire damage, the Kinney was at last repaired. The hotel reopened mid-summer, 2006.

Labels: Hotel Kinney

Sunrise - The Hurley


HOTEL HURLEY - 201 LEAVENWORTH STREET
(formerly Kenyon Hotel, later Hotel DeWalt) 1914. Engineer: Albert W. Burgren. 6 stories, brick & galvanized iron facade.

Under most lighting conditions, the Hotel Hurley's architectural details are obscured by the building's murky, dismal colors. It glowers and stares in bright sunshine and broods sullenly under overcast skies. The light of a rosy dawn softens all that it touches, making the Hurley an ideal subject for an early morning photographic foray.

Labels: Hotel Hurley

Allen


ALLEN HOTEL - 411 EDDY STREET
1907. Architect: Julius E. Krafft. 3 stories, brick facade.

The Allen Hotel is another example of a rooming house with upstairs rooms and ground floor storefronts.

Labels: Allen Hotel, neon signs

Shawmut


HOTEL SHAWMUT - 516 O'FARRELL STREET
(now the Coast Hotel). 1912. Architect: L.B. Dutton. 6 stories, brick facade with terracotta details, some store sash & prism glass transoms intact.

Although the Shawmut has been renamed the Coast Hotel, the old painted sign on the rear wall is still there, a lovely fading relic of a time gone by. "Shawmut" is the original Native American name for the neck of land on which the city of Boston, Massachusetts was founded. Anglicized, the word has also come to mean "(water) spring". The Shawmut was so-named because its rooms have private baths, something of a luxury at the time the hotel was built. Hopefully, the new owners of the hotel will preserve this historic sign, or at least allow it to fade away with dignity.

Labels: Coast Hotel, Painted Advertisements, Shawmut Hotel

Sai


SAI HOTEL - 964 HOWARD STREET
In March of 2001 I moved into the Sai Hotel, into the tiniest room outside of a closet I have ever seen. My room was at the very back of the hotel on the top floor. It was just large enough for a narrow single bed, with about twelve inches to spare at the foot of the bed and about twice that distance from the side of the bed to the wall. A very narrow door opened inwards, just missing the miniscule sink attached to the wall opposite the bed. I had to climb onto the bed to close the door, because there wasn't enough room between the sink and the bed for me to fit. I had to face the sink sideways in order to use it.

The only furniture was a small nightstand at the head of the bed. There was no closet, not even hooks or nails on the walls. The one electrical outlet was situated on the wall about two feet above the sink; a perfectly useless location for me, since I had neither hair dryer nor electric shaver. A very small window near the head of the bed kept the room fairly bright during the first half of the day. A single, unshaded bulb hanging from the ceiling provided the only other light. My rent was $400. a month.

It was like living in a broom closet, but it was the first place I could call home after nearly six years of living on the streets.

Labels: Sai Hotel, SoMa

Aldrich Restored


ALDRICH HOTEL – 439 JONES ST.
1910. Architect: Charles Peter Weeks. 5 stories, brick & imitation stone facade.

When an old neon sign is restored, it reinforces our sense of place by maintaining a connection to our city's history. The restoration of the Aldrich's sign is truly superb — compare this image to the photo I took three years earlier.

Labels: Aldrich Hotel, neon signs

Elm


HOTEL ELM - 364 EDDY STREET
(formerly Hotel Rand) c.1909. Designer unknown. 5 stories, glazed brick & galvanized iron facade.

The Elm is a fine example of how the restoration of an old neon sign can uplift and brighten the urban environment. Compare this beautiful sign with the modernized signs of the National, the Seneca or the Whitaker.

Labels: Hotel Elm, neon signs

Warfield


HOTEL WARFIELD - 118 TAYLOR ST.
(Formerly St. Ann Hotel; later Hotel Lennox, Bard Hotel, Hotel Winfield). 1907. Architect: Ross & Burgren. 4 stories, brick facade.

Old signs and painted advertisements had a simple, direct & engaging way of communicating that is sorely lacking in the advertisements of our time. The old PARKING sign, with its lovely, curved arrow pointing the way, invites one in. The Par-T-Pak ad for mixers is direct and to the point, without implications of increased sexual attraction or any of the other fantasies advertisers nowadays use to sell products. Sadly, the PARKING sign no longer exists.

Labels: Hotel Warfield, Painted Advertisements

If Walls Could Speak


HUGO HOTEL – 6TH & HOWARD STREETS
The Hugo Hotel is the oldest hotel on 6th Street. A four-story masonry structure, it has been tenantless since a fire burned out a number of rooms in the late '80s. In 1996 a group of artists headed by Brian Goggin staged a "defenestration" event at the Hugo, turning the hotel into an immense sculptural mural.

Taking a liberty with the definition of defenestration, the artists cut apart and reassembled various types of scavenged furniture to give it the appearance of running or writhing. Tables leapt from windows and ran across the outside walls. Lamps corkscrewed from some windows, and sofas, refrigerators, bath tubs, even a grandfather clock squirmed and leapt from others. The furniture is there to this day, still running, leaping, and squirming out the windows.

Now a designated sightseeing stop, untold thousands of photographs have been taken of the Hugo and its famous furniture — a housing crisis turned into public art. I took this photograph of what used to be the Hugo's service alley because it shows the one wall of the hotel that has not been altered, save by the hand of Time.

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