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Traffic Jam on Mission Street in San Francisco, California

Today’s street scene image was taken on Mission Street, a major north to south thoroughfare in San Francisco, California. The photo was taken by Aaron Rubino early in December of 1946 for a feature that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle covering traffic congestion in the City. 

The photo was taken on Mission Street between 4th and 5th Streets looking to the northeast in the South of Market neighborhood . The combination of streetcars and the other vehicles on the major artery do in fact confirm the traffic problems just about every major city suffers from both then and today.

Having been taken not long after the end of World War II, the photograph apparently contains pre-war vehicles that date from the early-1930s up to 1942. Let us know if you find any post-war cars in the scene or find else anything of interest.

The photo found via is courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

33 responses to “Traffic Jam on Mission Street in San Francisco, California

  1. As a side note, I see two cars in this image with what I call “bumper over-riders” that I can’t say I’ve seen before. They’re not regular bumper guards, and appear to be specifically for the problem of locked bumpers that was so common in the `40s-early 50s.

  2. The fairing on the motorcycle seems a bit modern. I’m pretty sure it has a sidecar for delivery purposes. Perfect for getting aournd and parking in the city.

      • Yup.
        No doubt came from Dudley Perkins Harley Davidson . Selling Harleys since 1914. For years supplied the bikes for the SFPD and the California Highway Patrol. I understand the family just sold the dealership.

      • Jim, as before I’m always late to the party… but here’s my “5 cents worth”. As AML has previously stated , it is indeed a ’42 Plymouth SD with bumper extensions which do make it suggest a ’42 or the postwar Lincoln Zephyrs.

      • David , back in the seventies, I remember having my car serviced at its’ dealership and while waiting, seeing a -same make/year, but more expensive than mine-car come with the dealer’s motorcycle being towed behind it. I said to some one working there, “What’s with that?”, or words to that effect. I was told that it was a pickup/delivery service… for routine maintaince. As I recall, the cycle itself, it was a a 3 wheel affair; behind the seat it had a large hinged top loading box ; the back was big enough to handle license plate, dealer’s logo. etc. It didn’t appear to be custom. I thought , what a good idea- a reasonable branded muiti-use vehicle…good tax write off. Thgse were the days when you could write off anything.

          • Babe Zanca Auto Service on Mission Street used those trikes as parts runners and tow behinds. Their garage was located right around where this photo was taken. Also the SFPD used trikes up into the 1980s mostly for traffic and parking enforcement.

  3. Allow me to toss in my 5c worth. The 3rd car ahead of the Chevy appears
    to me, after a couple of enlargement studies, to be a ’41-’42 Lincoln sedan.
    The taillights are the deciding factor for me. Cannot seem to find any post-
    war cars. After so stating above, it occurred to me that the Lincoln might
    be a post-war model, ’46 to ’48. Dawn breaks on Marblehead. Thanks

  4. “…a 1941 CHRYSLER with fog lights and the car appears to have a flat windshield.”

    The only ’41 Chrysler series with a one-piece windshield would be the long wheelbase Crown Imperial seven passenger sedan or limousine which had curved glass windshields. On the right is a ’40 Studebaker Commander or President sedan

  5. The motorcycle is no doubt a big twin H-D and that is a “winter windshield” and they work quite well but mileage does suffer at speed. Car on right appears to be a NASH?

  6. I’m a longtime fan of the website but it is my first time to join in the discussion. Most of the time when I have something to say, someone else beats me to it. Thanks for giving us these memorable photos.

    I’m surprised no one has identified the car parked on the right. It looks to me like a 1939 or 1940 Nash.

  7. If they are still there, —(?) the (more modern) 1937 Vintage Streetcars on another part of San Francisco run on “19th” near Golden Gate Park . As to the Picture above, note the single Backup Lamp on the nearest car: Rarely, did anyone invest in two lamps, as: “One was enough”, on the Driver’s side. As to the Harley – Davidson Sidecar Rig & its “Pilot” —(who is happy to be behind a Streetcar, — (because of less fumes )! The Body of that Sidecar is lovingly referred to (by Sidecar “Pilots”) as: “A Coffin”. Because of its “Coffin” shape, (with curbside opening (coffin) lid. It was typically used by: Blueprint & Courier Services Companies, for “Pickup & Delivery” of large rolled “Blueprints” or other large rolled paper items , plus long packages like Roses! for floral delivery, in a safely covered “Carrier”. A particular “outfit: the “Rapid Blueprint Company ” figured very heavily in the commerce of any city that they provided this important service for — which has: “Now become History”! Note: the huge fairing & windshield , reminding us of : San Francisco’s Rain & Fog ! The other “Three wheeler” Harley – D. type (That is mentioned above is a “Tricycle” with a driven 2-wheel rear axle with a big Trunk. It is called: A Harley D. “Servi-Cycle”, — which: (When bumpers were real Spring steel!), carried a Clamp-On Tri-angular Mechanism — to Deliver to —or: (Pick up a Car ) to — or from a Customer! These are also used by “Meter Maids” for: marking Tires for parking tickets, and for carrying: “The (Tire) Boot” to dis-able a Scofflaw’s “Ride:, or spot a car parked wrongly — on San\Francisco’s many hill streets! Edwin W.

    • 19th Avenue is part of the 101 running north/south through SF. Buses run on it, but no streetcars. The SF Municipal Railway has an interesting collection of vintage streetcars from various US and foreign cities, but I’ve only see them run downtown. I generally avoid SF whenever I can for a number of reasons, traffic and parking being a major one.

  8. Great photo in many historic ways: The entire block occupied by the Hotel Irwin, etc., was taken down in the 1970s to house the current Fifth & Mission Garage. Across the street several buildings still stand, including the (then) SF News, one of five daily newspapers (Chronicle, Examiner, News, Call & Bulletin.) The shorter and taller buildings shown with “News” signs were the printing plant and editorial offices for The News. The former is now an indistinct office building, the latter is called “The Bulletin” (a sign over the entrance) as an homage to its long gone and earlier tenant, the SF Bulletin. Its lobby is full of old photos of that paper.

    The News, Call and Bulletin were shuttered in the late 1950s or early 60s by the Hearst Corp. which had acquired them decades earlier. At their demise, they were sold and produced as the combined daily, “The News, Call & Bulletin.”

    Curious as to the reference to the Hotel Irwin being owned by a conglomerate…more details, please?

    • The Hotel Irwin was not owned by a conglomerate, as far as I know. The reference to the ACME being owned by the ACME Corp was to recall that Wylie E Coyote and one or two other cartoon characters obtained many items from that company including giant rubber bands, anvils, roller skates, rockets and springs of all sorts.

    • I delivered the News for awhile in high school (late Fifties) and then worked for the News Call Bulletin in college. One could still occasionally park on Mission and other downtown streets then, but I paid a local gas station $10 a month to park there.

  9. Learning to drive a stick in SF was a kick, between the hills, the traffic and and the trolleys and cable cars. Fools pulled up too close behind on hills!

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