THE POWELL STREET CABLE CAR (TROLLEY): BUSY STREET SCENE (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This vintage real photo postcard features the Powell Street Cable Car Trolley on it’s turn-table at Powell and Market Streets in San Francisco, California. This image offers a great look back at early San Francisco history. There is a lot happening in this photograph. Look carefully and you will see two conductors working to turn the trolley around. Actually one seems to be doing all the physical labor while the other checks out the action on the street. In addition to the pedestrians in the image, you can also see a woman and her child boarding the cable car as it turns around. It is also interesting to note the businesses that appear in the photograph. The Clinton Cafeteria and the Owl Drug Company are clearly seen. Preliminary research reveals that the Clinton Cafeteria was located at 18 Powell Street. The book, San Francisco Art Deco (2007) asserts that the restaurants basement dining room had marble floors and potted plants. From six to eight PM the restaurant offered self served diners live dinner music provided by a string orchestra. The second business in the photograph, The Owl Drug Company, was a drugstore chain headquartered in San Francisco. It was established in 1892 and was a subsidiary of Rexall. The photographer of this photograph is Alexander J. “Zan” Stark (1889-1967). He was born in Michigan and moved to California in his early twenties. Zan Stark was a postcard photographer. He worked out of his studio in Mill Valley.  He used the professional name of “Zan of Tamalpais” between the 1920’s and the early 1950’s. This postcard is credited to Zan (no. 316). The stamp box on this vintage postcard indicates that it was published on Eastman Kodak paper  sometime between 1939 and 1950.

 

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Published in: on October 27, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. Great picture! All these years later, the cable cars are still manually turned by the conductors in the same way (though passengers are no longer allowed to board while it’s in motion like that). The businesses aren’t there anymore (the drug store is now a Gap), but the building itself is the historic Flood Building, which actually predates the 1906 earthquake.


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