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Mid-1950s San Francisco Rush Hour Traffic

Today’s feature image is a view of fairly heavy rush hour traffic on an unidentified street in San Francisco. The majority of the vehicles on the thoroughfare date to the early-to-mid fifties and a number of them date back into the forties. If any of our readers can home in on the location, we will know if this picture was taken in the morning or evening and which way the motorists where headed.

Note the black and white dice hanging from the rear view mirror of the lead car, and share with us what you find of interest in the photograph or can add to this post. The picture is via contributor Benjamin Ames.

24 responses to “Mid-1950s San Francisco Rush Hour Traffic

  1. I’ve always thought of the designs of this era as being gentle and rounded. But looking at it in context, that Buick with the waterfall grille looks pretty aggressive.

  2. When fuzzy dice and smoking cigarettes and 2 door ’55 Mercury’s were cool. ( Mercury hood ornament) The Packard on the left is a ’48 or ’49. My ’50 had a one piece front bumper. The Chrysler on the right has a hemi.

  3. I know cars pretty well but can’t make out the lead car. The hood ornament will identify it by someone here. I do love the fuzzy dice. LOL

  4. I found a 1954 SF City Directory online and based on the business names, I believe this is Post St. looking east. These business match the ones visible in the picture:

    272 Post: Lanz of Calif, dresses; LANZ is on the side of the awning at far left
    230 Post: Malm C A and Co, Luggage; next door to Lanz store (the L is behind the utility pole)
    259 Post: Ransohoffs Inc., womens clothing; on the awning at far right is …HOFF and the last 2 digits 59
    253 Post: American Express Travel Services; next door to Ransohoffs

  5. Figured it out. The lead car is a 1955 Mercury. My dad had a ’56 Mercury Montery which had almost the same hood ornament but slightly larger. Rear center speaker was also a clue.

    • I believe you are right. You can also see the contrasting color panel just below the side windows, that I believe were always the color of the roof. You can also see along the side the vertical chrome accent that is just behind the door and once you know that it is a 55 Merc, you can also see a chrome piece where the front fender badge is on a Monterey.

      • The lead car is a 1955 Mercury Montclair. Montclairs had in the center of the rear seat the courtesy light whereas Montereys had it at the C-pillar, two, one at each side

  6. Avery –
    How can it be Post St. “looking west” when the Market St. buildings pictured are east of the point where the photo was taken? Just asking….I think you mean east… 🙂

    Assuming this is Post St. — Post St. TODAY runs TOWARD Market St. ONE-WAY from Van Ness Ave.
    The photo, interestingly, shows a REVERSE one way west direction away from Market St. toward Van Ness Ave.

    This photo represents the time when SF street planners had common sense….and when you could easily navigate The City thru alleys and predictable one-way and 2-way streets.

    Nice to see Hastings Men’s Clothiers. Ransohoff’s, and Malm Luggage again. All long gone, regrettably.

    ((JEFF: Used to buy suits from Bond’s, as well as Roos/Atkins, Grodin’s and , of course Brooks Bros. and Cable Car Clothiers — when I could afford he latter two!))

  7. Looks familiar, at various times from late 53 to early 55 I was stationed at the 6th Army headquarters and did the Van Ness avenue thing daily. Good training for todays driving.

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