Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Intersection Adrift in Time, 1953 vs. 2008

South Van Ness at Army Street, 1953

A friend recently sent me a link to an amazing gallery of vintage color photos of San Francisco from the Cushman Collection at Indiana University. (PROCRASTINATION WARNING: Do not click this link unless you have at least an hour to burn.)

About 30 minutes into my procrastination, I stumbled across the photo above, which shows the corner of South Van Ness Avenue at Army (Cesar Chavez) Street in San Francisco as it looked in 1953. Since I happened to live two blocks from that spot, I wandered outside to reshoot it. Behold, the same view, on August 12, 2008:

South Van Ness at Cesar Chavez (Army), 2008

The most impressive thing is how *little* the view has changed, overall. Gas used to cost 25 cents a gallon but now it goes for $4.17. Otherwise, the streetscape and development on Bernal Hill (in the background) look much as they did 50 years ago. My favorite detail is the Golden Gate Cleaners, visible at center left. The shop is still there, and with the same neon signage. Like a bug in amber.

The Cushman Collection's vintage San Francisco color photo archive

photos: Top, the Cushman collection; below, Telstar Logistics