Tag Archives: commercial building

Mid-Market 2014, Part Five


Contained within the Mid-Market area is the Market Street Theatre and Loft District, a National Register district listed in 1986. First identified in 1977 by Michael Corbett in Splendid Survivors, the district spans 982 to 1112 Market Street on the northwest side, including One Jones Street and 1-35 Taylor Street, and 973 to 1105 Market Street on the southeast side. Comprising the district are eight loft buildings, four office buildings, five theaters and two theater sites, two hotels, a bank, a fraternal lodge, nine small commercial buildings, and two fine intersections. Twenty of the buildings are contributors, the rest are intrusions. Constructed for the most part between 1900 and 1926, the buildings manifest a singular visual harmony, known as the Commercial Style, with two- or three-part vertical composition, Renaissance-Baroque or other historicist ornamentation, and prominent cornices. The architecture looks much like the rest of San Francisco’s post-fire downtown because the same architects and property owners were responsible.

The district’s true beginning took place in 1889, when Albert Pissis published his designs for the Hibernia Bank, the City’s earliest surviving Beaux-Arts building, in California Architect and Building News. Highly admired in the 1890s, widely copied after the Fire, the Hibernia Bank was the progenitor of San Francisco’s Beaux-Arts classicism. Perhaps more than any other structure, the Hibernia Bank was enormously influential in San Francisco’s rebuilding. Four of the district’s contributing buildings, the Hibernia Bank (1889-1892) and the Wilson (1900), Hale Brothers (1900) and Grant (1902) buildings, are in varying degree survivors of the 1906 earthquake and fire. These four facades share the design qualities of the district and all of post-fire downtown, showing that foresight and preparation for San Francisco’s post-fire City Beautiful-inspired architecture were developed in the six to sixteen years beforehand. Of the district’s twenty contributing buildings, twelve were constructed between 1906 and 1913. Between 1920 and 1926, four more buildings were added, three of them theaters: the Golden Gate (1922), Loew’s Warfield (1922), and the Egyptian (1924).

Theater & Lofts

“Theater and Lofts” (2014)

Pictured here are Weinstein’s Department Store (blue facade, an intrusion), Sterling Furniture Company, Kaplan’s (another intrusion), the Ede Building, Globe Building, and the Egyptian Theatre. The two-story building of relatively modern appearance, known only as Kaplan’s Surplus in recent years, is all that remains of the 1908 Forrest Building, a fine seven-story loft building heavily damaged in a six-alarm arson fire that also damaged the Sterling Building next door on 04 January 1979. While the Sterling Building was repaired, Kaplan’s, the owner-occupant of the Forrest Building both before and after the fire, sadly decided to demolish and not restore, leaving only a pathetic two-story remnant. Now that Kaplan’s has closed up shop forever, the building will be razed and replaced by market rate, high-rise condominiums.

Forrest Bldg_Humbert

“Forrest Building Restored” (2014, Mike Humbert)

My friend Mike Humbert, who is as engrossed with Market Street’s history as I, with great patience created this image showing the Forrest Building, unabbreviated, on present day Market Street. Michael Corbett likened the original facade to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Luxfer Project.

Imperial Theatre

“Imperial Theatre” (2014)

Due to extensive alterations over the years, the Imperial Theatre numbers among the district’s intrusions and therefore lacks the protections afforded to buildings with historic status. Predictably, the building’s owners have decided to raze and not restore because high-rise condominiums will be far more profitable. Or so they hope. Sooner or later, the tech bubble will burst and with it the housing bubble. In the meantime, San Francisco is erasing its history at an unprecedented rate.

Federal Hotel

“Federal Hotel” (2014)

Grant Building

“Grant Building” (2014)


“Prager’s Department Store” (2014)


Filed under Mid-Market

Mid-Market 2014, Parts 3 and 4

The fair and wondrous city that embraced me half a century ago has been transfigured. In the space of just a few years, so much of San Francisco’s urban fabric has been effaced that I barely recognize it anymore. My documentation of what has been and will be so carelessly thrown away and forgotten is necessarily limited and leaves much of the City unaccounted-for, although it is representative of what is happening to San Francisco as a whole. As San Francisco is transformed, so too is my relationship with the City. My daily life is infused with sadness, a wistful kind of sorrow, the melancholy of lost hopes and forgotten dreams.


“Matrix” (2014)


“Gateway” (2014)


“Rooftop” (2014)


“Stacks” (2014)

6th Street Hotels

“6th Street Hotels” (2014)

SoMa and Beyond

“SoMa and Beyond” (2014)


Filed under Mid-Market, Sixth Street, Tenderloin

Mid-Market 2014, Part 2

The revitalization, so to speak, of the mid-Market corridor was already well underway when I shot this series of photos. Cranes and construction curtains are evident in many of the images. Years after the Great White Way had faded and died, its residuum sustained the landscape’s familiarity. Now, even that is disappearing. The St. Francis Theater was demolished April 2013. Soon, everything on the north 900 block of Market, except the Warfield Building and Crest Theater (Crazy Horse), will be razed. On the south 1000 block of Market, both the Imperial Theater and Kaplan’s (remnant of the Forrest Building) are slated for demolition. The old buildings will be replaced by high-rise condominiums, a multi-level shopping mall and a purported arts center,* all quite aloof and aseptic. Too soon, I fear, I will feel like an outlander in a strange and surly domain.

*Other than Hospitality House on Market Street, there is only one center for the arts in this town that has my undying love and respect, and that is Galeria de la Raza on 24th Street.

(Reminder: all images can be enlarged with a single click.)

Gone is the Glamour

“Gone is the Glamour” (2014)

Faded Beauty

“Faded Beauty” (2014)


“Courthouse” (2014)


Filed under Mid-Market

Mid-Market 2014

Last summer, I photographed a series of bird’s-eye views of the central city, which I am just now getting around to processing and editing. Rather than wait until they are all finished, I will post them in small batches as I go, starting with these.

Central City

“Central City” (2014)

Market and Taylor

“Market and Taylor” (2014)

Central Market

“Central Market” (2014)

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Filed under Mid-Market, Tenderloin