The End of the Innocence: Market Street, 1957


Muni No. 176 and a couple of Twin trolley coaches pass Weinstein’s department store near Sixth Street. Clark Frazier photo.

Few felt it, but a seismic shift in American culture had begun. Grandfatherly Ike was President, friendly dairyman George Christopher was Mayor, stalwart Republicans both. Most white, middle-class San Franciscans (the majority then) saw these as comfortable times, and change as not terribly threatening.

Now over there in North Beach, we’re getting some weirdos: Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, what was that Herb Caen dubbed them? Oh, yeah, beatniks, like Sputnik, that Russian satellite. Those Russians are getting a little scary with their nuclear weapons, but the kids took those ‘duck and cover’ lessons in school, so I guess we’re ready.


From Second Street, looking east … no PCCs in sight. Clark Frazier photo.

Speaking of the kids, they might be going a little wild with that Elvis and those other rock-and-roll guys, but hey, the wife did the same with Sinatra when she was a kid. Meantime, we’ve got the best town in the world here, and to prove it, we’re getting a major league baseball team next year. Took ’em away from New York City. Seals Stadium’s not big enough, but it’ll only be for a couple of years, because we’re going to build the most modern stadium in the country out at Candlestick Point. With parking for 12,000 cars!

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Comments: 2

  1. As a Redwood City boy I would spend a week each summer in the 1940s with my aunt who owned the “family home” at Maynard and Mission in the Excelsior. I well remember a Redlicks’s “17 Reasons Why” store on Mission east of Alemany. My aunt dragged me all over The City where I learned a lot. I rode the 12, 14 and 40 Market Street lines, plus the M Ocean of the Muni. Later, as an adult, I rode the N Judah car when I lived on Mt. Sutro. The 40 line ran from the Ferry Building out thru Daly City, behind San Bruno Mountain and went all the way to the S-P depot in San Mateo which is where my mother would put us on for the ride to the Excelsior. I remember how exciting lower Market was with the “roar of the four” and marveled at all the streetcars. I loved them and even fashioned a motorman’s controls out of a wooden box.

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