Tag Archives: gym



“Sentinel” (2005)

(348/6) 100-120 McAllister Street, Temple Methodist Church and William Taylor Hotel (1927), Empire Hotel (1936), McAllister Tower (1981); church and palace hotel with 609 rooms and 391 baths; 28B stories; steel frame structure with brick walls; articulated steel frame with recessed copper spandrels; set-back skyscraper; Gothic ornamentation; vestibule: iron marquee; lobby: pier order with decorative ceiling, balcony with iron railing; alterations: some aluminum windows, doorway. Architects: Miller and Pflueger and Lewis P. Hobart. 1927.

(322/1) 601-609 O’Farrell Street, Farrelworth Apartments. Architect: H.C. Baumann. 1918.

About a year after I captured the above image, I had the pleasure of gazing down at the City from atop the tower at 100 McAllister Street, a remarkable building that appears in a number of my Tenderloin and South of Market photographs.

“Encroaching Fog” (2004)

Built by the Methodist Church, the building first opened in 1927 as the luxury William Taylor Hotel and Temple Methodist Church; in 1936 the building was sold and reopened as the Empire Hotel. While its status as the tallest hotel west of the Mississippi was short-lived, at a height of twenty-eight stories it remained by far the tallest building in the Tenderloin until the encroachment of the 493 foot Hilton San Francisco Tower I in 1971.

Summer Fog

“Summer Fog” (2004)

The McAllister Tower’s purchase in 1981 by UC Hastings College of the Law should ensure that this neighborhood landmark, still undergoing long-term restoration, will be well cared for long into the future.


“UC Hastings and McAllister Tower” (2008)


(left) Postcard, c. 1927. (center) W. Taylor dining room, c. 1927. (right) Engraving, c. 1857. The apocalyptic gaze and breathtaking beard belong to Methodist minister William Taylor, from the frontispiece to his book Seven Years Street Preaching in San Francisco. Taylor was working in and around Baltimore, Maryland, specializing in street preaching, when he was sent by the Methodist Church as a missionary evangelist to California in 1849. For the next seven years he worked the streets of San Francisco, earning a reputation as “the pioneer scourge of moral slackers” for his fire-and-brimstone sermonizing. The Reverend Taylor later became Bishop Taylor, and it is he for whom the McAllister Tower was originally named.


“Lobby – McAllister Tower” (2008)


“Mezzanine – McAllister Tower”


“Gymnasium – McAllister Tower” (2008)

UC Hastings CFO David Seward kindly took me on a personal tour of the tower including the observation deck, where I was able to walk about in the open air twenty-seven stories above the street, with the Tenderloin, Civic Center and South of Market spread out before me. Our time was limited, so I was able to take only a few photographs. If you examine them closely, you can see the spatial relationships between many of the buildings I’ve singled out in my other photographs.


“Downtown” (2008)

Since 1968, the year I moved to San Francisco, the beautiful Beaux Arts-inspired architecture that once defined the City’s downtown skyline has been occulted, if not replaced, by towering and impersonal skyscrapers of glass and steel.


“Nob Hill” (2008)

To the north toward Nob Hill appears some of the lovely and inviting city that arose from the ashes of the 1906 fire; where the skyline still shows the graceful rise and fall of San Francisco’s hills.


“Boundary Lines” (2008)

In the upper left is the Flood Building at Powell and Market, which for many years was considered the eastern boundary of the Tenderloin. The diagonal swath of Market Street separates the Tenderloin on the left from South of Market on the right.


“Hive” (2008)

Gazing into the heart of the Tenderloin, we see the largest and densest concentration of intact residential hotels and apartments in the City; possibly in the entire country. Clearly seen from this perspective is the uniformity of architectural style. Nearly all the buildings have details that were drawn from Renaissance and Baroque sources, manifesting the influence of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the City Beautiful Movement on the various architects responsible for the district’s reconstruction.


“Intersection” (2008)

In the midst of century-old buildings rises the new Curran House at 145 Taylor Street.


“Ad Art” (2008)

A few doors down Turk Street from Jones is the old El Rosa Hotel (now the Helen), with its beautiful old painted advertisement for 7-Up.

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Cadillac Hotel

Sunset - the Cadillac

“Sunset – the Cadillac” (2003)

(333/12) 366-394 Eddy Street; Cadillac Hotel. Mid-priced hotel with 170 rooms and ninety-one baths in two-, three- and four-room suites, dining room converted to boxing ring 1924. 4B stories. Brick, terracotta trim, decorative moldings and keystones with flat arches, galvanized iron cornice; two-part vertical composition in an E-plan; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; alterations: security gate, remodeled ground level, vestibule. Original owner: Andrew A. Louderback, poultry, game and distilling (Louderback lived in a house on this site until 1906). Architects: Meyer and O’Brien. 1907.

A spacious lobby with a red marble fireplace, a mezzanine-level gallery, and grand stairways to a former dining room together indicate that the Cadillac was designed to attract tourists as well as permanent residents. Owned and operated since 1977 by Leroy and Kathy Looper’s Reality House West, the hotel was the first nonprofit-owned SRO in California and was the model for supportive housing as a means to reduce homelessness in the United States.

Source: San Francisco History Center, S.F. Public Library

Cadillac Hotel, 1907.

In 1924 Billy Newman leased the hotel dining room and converted it to a boxing gymnasium. For sixty years Newman’s Gym was the training ground for hundreds of local boxers and numerous world heavyweight champions, including Sonny Liston, George Foreman, and Gerry Cooney. Nineteen-year-old Cassius Clay (the future Muhammad Ali) was Billy Newman’s guest at the gym for several days in 1960, when he was stranded at the San Francisco Airport on his way home from the Rome Olympics with a gold medal and no cash. Legendary jazz artist Miles Davis would often spar at Newman’s when he was in town for a gig. According to gym director Don Stewart, Davis was a very capable boxer who would say to his sparring partners, “Don’t hit me in the face. I’ve got to play tonight.” The oldest boxing gym in America moved in 1984 from the Cadillac to 136 Leavenworth, where it continued to operate until the passing of Don Stewart in 1995.


Miles Davis at Newman’s Gym, 1971. (Photo by Jim Marshall)

Jerry Garcia lived at the Cadillac in 1961. His appointment with destiny came several years later, when a newly-formed band named the Warlocks (Garcia, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Phil Lesh) dropped acid with Ken Kesey and changed their name to the Grateful Dead.


Postcard, circa 1907.

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Central YMCA

Central YMCA 02

“Portico, Central YMCA” (2007)

(345/4) 200–222 Golden Gate Avenue; Y.M.C.A., Shih Yu-Lang Central YMCA (2002). Athletic facilities, offices, classrooms, auditorium, and hotel with 207 rooms and fifty-five baths. 8B stories; steel frame structure with brick walls; granite and terra cotta trim, rusticated base with bronze sconces, galvanized iron cornice; two-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; vestibule: Ionic pedimented portico in terra cotta with bronze arched window; alterations: doorway, entry pediment, many aluminum windows, painted terra cotta, lobby remodeled. Architects: McDougall Brothers. 1909.

After the Mason Street Y.M.C.A. was destroyed in the 1906 fire, funds raised in the east financed its replacement on Golden Gate Avenue. The building’s portico, granite and terra cotta trim, and enormous bronze arched window make it one of the more impressive structures in the lower Tenderloin. Purchased by the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation in 2007, the building is currently being renovated for conversion to health care facilities and low-cost housing. The Central YMCA has temporarily relocated to 387 Golden Gate Avenue.

YMCA, Mason & Ellis, 1906
Source: San Francisco History Center, S.F. Public Library

Y.M.C.A. at Mason and Ellis, 1906.


“Central YMCA” (2007)

Mason Street YMCA, 1906
Source: San Francisco History Center, S.F. Public Library

Entrance to Mason Street Y.M.C.A., 1906. “The damnedest finest ruins.”


Postcard, circa 1909.


Postcard, circa 1920.

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