Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Quid enim est aetas hominis, nisi ea memoria rerum veterum cum superiorum aetate contexitur?
To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man’s lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?
–Marcus Tullius Cicero
Welcome to Up From The Deep, an historical and very personal exploration of the heart of San Francisco. My Personal History explains my intimate and idiosyncratic relationship with the central city. An overview of this project and details of its genesis are contained within the Project History. Central city history has been divided into three photo essays corresponding to the vicinities that comprise it: Sixth Street, Mid-Market, and The Tenderloin. In the Blog section you will find detailed histories of numbered blocks and individual buildings, illustrated with my own photography and, where possible, historical images and clippings from various Bay Area archives; narratives and anecdotes about characters both famous and infamous; and news of current neighborhood events and exhibits. Of course, there is also a search engine to help you navigate. Archival quality prints of my photographs can be purchased via the Prints page.
Source: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library
Mason and Market, 1905. Center left is the third incarnation of the Tivoli Opera House in the reconfigured Panorama Building at Eddy and Mason, across from the mansard-roofed Golden State Hotel and Spider Kelly’s saloon. In the distance, near the center of the skyline, is the Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill.
I have found that, as a general rule, people rarely look upward past eye level. They are most often surprised when their attention is directed above to something they have passed by without seeing, perhaps for years. One friend of mine had lived for a long time in a Central Towers apartment, across Turk Street from the old YMCA Hotel (now the Oasis Apartments). When he first saw one of my photographs of the Oasis, he asked me where the building was located. He was shocked to learn it was the same building his balcony window had opened onto all those years, for he had never noticed what was right before his eyes. He later told me that when out and about, he had begun to look upward and had discovered many beautiful and pleasing aspects of his city he had never before appreciated, which of course delighted me no end. Cast your gaze aloft every now and then just to see what is there . . . you might be surprised.
Just about the time I began photographing the architecture of San Francisco’s central city, Serge Echeverria came into my life, offering not only his friendship, but also both encouragement and critical assessment of my work. To him, Up From The Deep is dedicated.
Photo by Theo Rigby
Except where otherwise indicated, text and photos on this site are copyright © 2004-2014, Mark Ellinger. Any use and/or duplication of this material without prior written permission from the author is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mark Ellinger and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.