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Vehicles Involved in the 1934 West Coast Longshore Workers Strike

The West Coast Longshore Workers Strike, one of a series of labor strikes in the US in the early to late-1930s was a long and bloody battle between the strikers, police, and authorities. It was initiated on May 9, 1934, by disgruntled dock workers in San Francisco, was centered there and quickly expanded to encompass the entire coast. The labor action ended over two months later on July 17, when the strikers and shipping companies entered into arbitration which was finally settled on October 12, 1934.

Instead of covering the strike in detail, today’s coverage includes press images of vehicles that were involved in the action or in the background. The lead image shows motorists lined up at a gasoline station that was affected during a general labor strike in San Francisco. More information and photos of the Strike is covered in a Historical Essay at Foundsf.

We will return on Saturday morning with another set of images involved in the West Coast Longshore Workers Strike. The images are courtesy of the Bancroft Library.

  • Press photographer wearing googles to protect his eyes from tear gas. 

  • Longshore workers gather on Mission Street in San Francisco – Below a convey of trucks arrive with food for the strikers. 


31 responses to “Vehicles Involved in the 1934 West Coast Longshore Workers Strike

    • If you are referring to the four passenger coupe it would be a Model 28. To its right, the coupe with dual side mounts and cowl lights is – maybe – a 1930-31 Dodge, and to its right is another Buick, a regular two passenger coupe.

      The 1933/34 style car top left, with the truck rack, could be an Buick or Olds from that period.

      • Mark,

        Thanks for your comments. The car I’m referring to as a 1926 BUICK model 26-20 is the automobile to the right of the car parked in the foreground center with dual side mounts. I miss identified the vehicle as a model 26-20 [four-door]; it looks like either a two-door model 26-48 [with standard motometer]. or as you state a model 26-28. The ’26 BUICK’s radiator is partly hidden by the white object in the lower right of the photograph.


  1. According to the August 1934 issue of The Log, Toumey Electric and Engineering Co. was located at 115-117 Stuart Street, so presumably the third photograph is looking at Stuart St.

  2. In the lead photograph, are those mud flaps on the roadster to the left? I’ve never seen that accessory on a car of that vintage before.

    • Mud flaps were standard on all 1930 – 1934 American Austin cars and trucks (front fenders only). The little cars had no running boards to protect the rocker panels and rear fenders from rock chips, etc.

    • The Model A Roadster also has a Kari-Keen accessory trunk, an aftermarket accessory that opens into a large luggage carrier also.

  3. The fourth picture I think is on Larkin Street, based on the F Patek & Co building. They were a wholesale butcher listed in the 1899, 1909, and 1916 business directories. I haven’t seen any references to the business dated later than 1916.

  4. In the first photo it is amazing how many Model A Fords there are.
    The 1931 Slant windshield Fordor is a rare blindback ( no rear quarter glass) sedan. Very few of this model were produced. Rear visibility was very poor in this model. I suspect a lot of right rear fenders were bent up due to backing into objects due to not being able to see that corner of the vehicle.

    • I’ve often wondered about that when I see a limousine with their enclosed rear cabins or, say, a Packard Waterhouse Victoria that has all that convertible top fabric wrapped around the back seat. Early Lincoln Continental convertibles too. With their tiny mirrors, not to mention lack of turn signals, it must give the driver some anxiety when changing lanes.
      I read that the original Thunderbirds of 1955 posed a similar problem. So the famed porthole, introduced on the 1956 models, solved that problem.

      • PMD, Just an FYI….All Lincoln and Lincoln Continentals came standard with turn signals starting in 1941 models. They were well aware of the blind spot issues of course, so the Continental coupe was a little more desirable for rear vision, unless your weather permitted your cabriolet top to be down! But remember, we had more road courtesy in the last century and drivers used hand signals pretty often too. Ask anyone under 21 years old today if they know what they are!

  5. The camera appears to be a 4×5-inch Busch Pressman with a focal-plane shutter (and another shutter in the lens).

  6. The first photo shows Station Number 10 of McKale’s Inc. Service Station System. This station was at the corner of 1600 Mission, Van Ness, and Otis Street which was also the location of the corporate offices. This building still exists, in modified form, at 1600 Mission, and is currently an Enterprise Car Rental location. Note that the corner originally was Mission, 12th, and Otis.

    There were at least three other San Francisco McKale stations: Station 11 at Funston Ave. and Geary; Station 12 at 7th Ave. and Irving; and Station 16 at Ocean Ave. and Miramar. The company had a substantial presence in the Seattle, Washington area. Eventually there were over 50 stations in the corporation.

    More details regarding this property are at the following link. Replace the three instances of the word “dot” with a period to view the document.

    50 dot 17 dot 237 dot 182/docs/DPRForms/3512001.pdf

    • Good research. I had found that one McKale’s had survived, but hadn’t been able to determine which one it was.

  7. The “Helmet” the photographer is wearing is a “Bullard” Fire helmet that was an “economy” model made during the Depression…. I used to have one in my collection, long sold to move on to other “Goodies”…..

  8. I had mud flaps on my 31 A roadster in High school they hat small red lights in them. I was a good Western Auto Customer. I have a 34 Chev now with mud flaps and skirts .

  9. As we have a ’30 Ford AA Truck, the Model A’s are no surprise, as there was a Nearby Ford Factory Assembly Plant to the S.F., Calif. , gas station picture, that helped in making the A & AA vehicles locally popular! Our AA was also assembled there, in mid-1930. The gas station has the usual water & air hoses at the service Island . These were always getting damaged, or inadvertently damaging Customer’s vehicles. Only later did the “Reel back in” (underground , flush to the ground “Pairs of hoses ” with: Rubber ended radiator filler and air chuck /with gauge “Set” come into use. Station Attendants had to be: “Well trained” to prevent spilled gasoline from setting the car on fire or exploding! because the ten gallon (Gravity fed carb. tank, —- Is the Cowl in front of the windshield!!! On top of the station is a large Spot or Flood Lamp, either: pointed at a sign or a rear lot area. In the background you will see a Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Bldg., typically devoid of any fancy architecture, — as it was designed solely for Exchange Switching Equipment, Telephone Operators and Toll Testboard/Repeater- Men, plus huge banks of batteries, charging equipment and Emergency Stand-by Generators.

    • The Ford Assembly Plant referred to in San Francisco was located at Van Ness and Fell streets. It was opened in 1911 and operated to do final assembly only of primarily Model T vehicles shipped by rail in knock down kit form Ford in Detroit. The multi-story building had elevators for the small vehicles, both incoming and outgoing. Major work was to re-install the wheels onto the “knock-down” Ts and final test for dealer delivery. The facility was antiquated badly by 1930 and work was already underway by then over on the East Bay in City of Richmond for the new 500,000 sq. ft. modern Ford full assembly plant of great significance to the West Coast. It was the largest auto assembly plant on the West Coast and benefitted by full rail sidings and ocean going shipping docks. It greatly increased Ford’s presence and was a very significant help for the Pacific Theatre during WWII. Ford Motor Co. has had a long history as a major employer in the Bay Area (and in California in general). They presently operate an R&D center in Silicon Valley for autonomous and connectivity vehicle systems. The Ford Richmond plant still stands but now as a repurposed multi-function public and private historic site with retail shops, etc.

  10. Not too far from San Francisco, ( at that time) were: “Cow Counties” with dirt roads! this meant that: “Schmutzfengers” ( German ,for: “mudflap”)for That area, which is considerably wetter than So. Cal. In that case, it’s an “out of town “car, where (larger) mudflaps are a necessity, to prevent” Caking – Up of the chassis & wheel wells, with a thick layer of axle stopping – “Adobe Mud! It was the early ’30’s !!!

  11. Re: Pic #1:
    Ace – very sharp eye, and you beat me to it re: the Enterprise Rent A Car location scoop. I work for E and deliver cars there at least once a week. The property is a funny little wedge, as you know. The filling station is long gone, now just a fenced in pkg lot. The main building (rear) is intact and its details are still fascinating, but sadly, the bathroom inside hasn’t been updated since the 1930s! The Tire space is now E’s washstand, and the space on left is an auto audio business, I think.
    Note also the building further down Otis Street (three upstairs windows) on right is now a Japanese motorcycle sales/repair shop with usually 20+ bikes parked in front daily. The PacTel exchange building further down still exists, tho repurposed. Otis now runs 1-way the opposite direction. The tall tile-roofed building far behind to the left, still stands.

    Speaking of Car Culture, Mel’s first and ORIGINAL Drive-In was directly across Van Ness (to left, out of photo) where the a car wash is now, though was set back quite aways from the Market/Van Ness corner.

    Thanks for background on McKale’s….

  12. Recent to this site. These photos are just too, too cool! The vehicles AND the settings are a most interesting combination particularly the ’30’s and ’40’s. More!!! Cheers! Vin

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