Adrian and Lafayette

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“Adrian and Lafayette” (2003)

(337/15) 493–499 Eddy Street; Adrian Hotel. Stores and rooming house with sixty rooms and twenty-four baths. 5B stories; brick structure; arcaded top story, brick quoins, flat arches and decorative panels, galvanized iron cornice; three-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; vestibule: arch order entry, tile floor; lobby; stair landing only; storefronts: corner store with display windows, tile bases, transoms; signs: cruciform neon blade sign at corner “Adrian Hotel”, round neon “Lafayette Coffee shop Prime Rib” sign; alterations: some storefronts, security gate; replaces three-story wood flats building of 1903 by same owner. Original owner: George Schaefer, owner of National Brewery, resident of Ross. Architects: Salfield and Kohlberg. 1907.

On the Hyde Street side of the Adrian Hotel is the locally renowned Lafayette Coffee Shop. I like this photo because it shows nothing more recent than the Coca-Cola sign, making it a real window to the past.

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“Dusk – the Lafayette” (2006)

Lafayette Coffee Shop. 250 Hyde Street.

The Lafayette Coffee Shop is the diner of choice for many people living in Tenderloin residential hotels. What makes this diner so attractive to me are both the original yellow tiling along its base and its many signs, which have remained largely unchanged for many decades. At night, in its blaze of neon lights, the Lafayette is reminiscent of a carnival midway. Shortly before I took this photograph, the Lafayette’s blade sign was repaired. At the same time, the original hand-lettered signs along the bottom of the windows were painted over with stenciled lettering. Alas, sic transit gloria mundi! (Did I mention that Edward Hopper’s “Night Owls” is one of my favorite paintings?)

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“Just Before Dawn” (2003)

One of my earliest photographs, this image was captured one morning in 2003, just before dawn. I like it for its existential overtones: the angst of a pivotal moment in time. “Just Before Dawn”—sometimes my photos just name themselves.

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