Crawford Apartments

Starting today, I’ll be posting photos, architectural data, and relevant history about individual buildings within the Tenderloin and Mid-Market districts. To get things started, here is where a young Dashiell Hammett lived when he began writing detective stories.

Crawford-Apartments

“Crawford Apartments” (2007)

(740/9)* 620 Eddy Street; Crawford Apartments. Apartment building with thirty-four two-room units. 4B† stories; reinforced concrete structure; stucco facade, rusticated base, central aedicule, galvanized iron cornice; two-part vertical composition; Spanish Colonial ornamentation; vestibule: marble steps, cornice molding, hanging lamp; alterations: security gate and grilles, aluminum windows. Original owner: F.A. Meyer. Contractor: Mess-Nicholson Company. 1910.

*block and lot numbers

†number of above-ground stories and “B” for basement.

In January 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, Hammett resided with his wife and infant daughter at the Crawford Apartments.

The Black Mask, January 1923.

Dell #129, 1946
Cover design: Ruth Belew.

Dell Mystery Book #129,The Continental Op (1946). Between 1944 and 1951, some of Dashiell Hammett’s stories were republished by Dell as part of their long-running series of paperback mysteries, called “map backs” because the back covers were beautifully rendered maps, drawn by Chicago artist Ruth Belew, that delineated for each story the locations and spatial relationships of important characters, objects and events. Dell #129 was The Continental Op, a collection of Hammett’s early stories that included “Fly Paper,” “Death on Pine Street,” and “Zigzags of Treachery.”

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