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Street Scenes in San Francisco and Grand Rapids, Michigan

Today’s lead image contains a mid-1950s view of the San Francisco Greyhound Bus terminal and Hotel, Pioneer Cocktails and the Travelers Liquor store.

The street is packed with vehicles, and the newest ones apparently to date to about 1954. Interestingly the compact 1953 or ’54 Nash Rambler in the center of the roadway next to the Greyhound bus, when viewed in contrast with full-sized cars appears to be roughly about two-thirds the size of the average automobile.

Can any of our readers identify where the Greyhound Bus Station located in the City at the time?

The Christmas time street scene in Grand Rapids, Michigan (below) appears to contain only pre-war vehicles, and if that is the case the 1941 model vehicles in the view would date this photo to the 1940 or 1941 holiday seasons? By Christmas of 1942, it is likely gasoline rationing would have cut down the number of vehicles on this thoroughfare.

Share with us what you find of interest in the photographs via This Was AmeriCar.

35 responses to “Street Scenes in San Francisco and Grand Rapids, Michigan

  1. The ‘Hound terminal was located at 90 7th Street in S.F. It’s been replaced with the S. F. Federal Building. The IOOF Hall is still there as well as the buildings on either side of the hall. Those buildings look better now than they did 65+ years ago.

  2. I have always thought the 1949 Chrysler products were beautiful, but seldom acknowledged. The ’49 Chrysler twodoor in the center of the top picture and the fourdoor behind the bus are examples, and looked best in their shinny silver paint. The cars were conservative in design but built like jewel boxes on wheels.

  3. The old SF Greyhound Station? It was on 7th St. between Mission and Stevenson streets a block south of Market Street. Pioneer Cocktails is now “Smiths” and the bus station is now the site of the new(er) Federal Building.

  4. I wonder why the Kaiser has the hood up? If traffic were standing a while overheating wouldn’t be uncommon in those days, regardless of make.

  5. The location for the terminal then was on 5th street in the Pickwick hotel between Mission and Jessie street. Looks like 1953-54

    • I went for the wrong Greyhound terminal; this one was definitely at the seventh ave site. There was one at the Pickwick hotel as well.

  6. Photo #1 is on 7th St roughly between Mission and Market Streets, heading towards Market…Stevenson St is the small street the bus is coming out of.

    The buildings to the right of the bus remain; those beyond the bus are gone, replaced by the bizarre and starkly modern Federal Building and plaza. Unseen to the left is the grandly ornate 1905 US Court of Appeals Building, that along with the US Mint, were the only buildings South of Market to survive the earthquake and fire of 1906.
    However, the quake in 1989 caused enough damage to it to warrant nearly $100 million in repairs.

    The first bus in pulling ahead of a ’54 Ford Crestline Victoria while a ’52 or ’53 Kaiser has some problems at the curb. In the lower right that appears to be a ’47 Studebaker Champion sedan (taller hood emblem vs the ’48).

    Up front in photo #2 I believe that’s a ’41 Chrysler and a ’42 Ford

  7. 1st pic, the buses look like an early 50’s “Silversides”. Probably running together. Lot of people rode the bus, this was probably always a busy place. I like the Ford sedan delivery, (53?) which looks pretty new, and a Willys pickup and an early 50’s GMC box truck in the corner.

  8. Could that be Lois Lane driving that Nash Rambler? Is the Kaiser broken down or is the driver stalling for time to pick up an order at Travelers. The bus riding public looks like it was well served.

  9. The Odd Fellows Hall and the shorter building next to it have survived. The address is 26 7th Street. The Greyhound terminal and hotel was replaced with the San Francisco Federal Building.

  10. Wonderful “Shot”. Buicks, Chevys, Fords and Others and great architecture on the buildings. First Picture, on left side, rear is a nice GMC box truck, a pick-up in front of that., not sure what make. I’m wondering about the man on the left sidewalk near the parking meter. My first thought was he is digging in his pocket for a penny for the meter. On further observation, he seems to be looking at the back of that nice 1940 Buick Special. Then I noticed the car in front of the Buick appears to be smashed into the front of the Buick. The front bumper appears twisted upward by the front license plate. Now I am wondering if that’s his Buick or is he the smasher? If he can get across traffic, he could use the pay phone in the Pioneer Cocktail to call the police and he a few cocktails while he’s waiting for them to get through traffic. I hope that bus that’s turning the corner doesn’t run over the rear quarter panel on that other Buick in front of Pioneer Cocktails.

  11. In the Grand Rapids photo the horizontal chrome trim on the trunk lid of the Ford at the lower right side of the photo marks it as a 1948 model. The impressed word “FORD” is covered with snow. The license plate, dark letters and numbers on a light background (black on silver) with the word “MICHIGAN” below them, is also from 1948 (or 1950 or 1952, but no cars of that era are visible) so it’s doubtful the photo dates to 1940 or 1941.

    • Joel, thanks for your correction…it is indeed a ’48 Ford. Good eye!
      Perhaps someone who dabbles in Facebook will inform the This Was AmeriCar site of the erroneous date on the photo.

        • 48s had the wide horizontal chrome trim piece bearing the word “FORD” on the trunk lid, 47s did not. Do not be misled by the numerous incorrectly labeled photos that may be found on the internet.

  12. The Odd Fellows Hall is on 7th St in San Francisco between Market St and Mission St. It still looks the same on their site.
    I’m guessing the traffic is even worse today on 7th.
    Greyhound is gone

  13. The San Francisco Greyhound station was located at 7th Street and Stevenson St. Building gone, replaced by Federal Building. Is that a Lincoln with the hood up?

  14. The Traveler’s Liquors, 22 7th St, San Francisco, CA 94103 existed ’till at least 2009.
    Bus station is long gone, but the Pioneer Cocktails building & Odd Fellows Hall still exist.

    Grand Rapids appears to be Franklin & Division. Vandenberg Jewelers sign in photo. They still exist elsewhere in town.

  15. Regarding your comment about the relative size of the Rambler, I guess it was 1958 before cars get bigger, and kept getting bigger.

    • Mark, Rambler went to a 108” w/b in ’54 and were 193.4” long…the longest wheelbase and overall length Ramblers (apart from 117” w/b Ambassadors from 58-’61) until the ‘63s at 112” w/b… and didn’t reach the 193” overall length again until ’65 (when Ambassadors had 116” w/b, 200” overall length…197″on wagons).

      • Interesting, those numbers for the w/b and length of the Rambler are actually a couple inches more than that of a Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4 or other of that compact CUV ilk, which many people find to be more than enough car these days.

  16. Surprised no one has mentioned the ’54 Lincoln hardtop coupe and the ’53 Ford Courier sedan delivery in the San Francisco traffic. The two oldest cars are both 1940 models, the light-color Chrysler near the Ford and the dark Buick at the curb. The Plymouth and Ford under the “BUS” sign appear to be taxis.

    As interesting as the pre-war cars including a ’40 Hudson in the Grand Rapids image are the long-gone Rexall Drug Stores with fountain service, Sinclair H-C gasoline and ubiquitous neon signs.

  17. San Francisco has seen a drastic change in the number of new car dealerships over the years. In 1955 S.F. had 63 new car dealerships (24 of them on Van Ness Ave.). Today there are 12 new car dealerships in the city (7 of them on Van Ness Ave.). The only “domestic” make there is Tesla. Of course other cities have seen similar changes.

  18. When I first arrived in San Francisco late at night in December of 1978 I had come by Greyhound Bus and walked out of that depot shown above. I don’t believe that the hotel on top was still in operation back then; instead I walked up a few blocks and got myself a room at the now closed YMCA. When I next visited SF for a short stay in the summer of 2000 the bus pulled up at the Transbay Terminal on Mission and Second Street which is a few blocks further downtown. Cheap rooms were a lot harder to come by then, so I had to walk quite a distance until I found an inexpensive flophouse to stay for a few nights. The Transbay Terminal closed a few years ago, and the Greyhound Bus depot is now located at the newly built Salesforce Transit Center at approximately the same location. Originally however, the bus station was located inside the Pickwick Hotel Building on 5th and Jessie Street just off of Market Street from the late 1920’s up until the late 1940’s, at which time the new depot on 7th Street was built. I have fond memories of that bus depot and its environs as I used to travel by Greyhound quite regularly when I was a sales manager working in Vallejo during the mid 1980’s.

  19. Under the s of bus is a line of cabs ; a54 Plymouth probably a plaza , then a ford product , followed by I think a Desoto ,very popular for cabs . They had very loud horns , there was a Desoto Cab company .One of the New York Mayors complained about Desoto horns .in the middle lane over from the Plymouth is another Plymouth of the same year 54 , perhaps a cranbrook .Directly behind it looks like either a 50 Dodge or another 50 Desoto .The 2 cars gas very similar bodies ,and windshield shapes ,Dodge has a horizontal bar across the front of the grill and Desoto has more vertical treatments evolved from the 40’s waterfall into the later 50’s iconic teeth coveted by customizers.The cousin Plymouth also had a horizontal styling que across the front grill which by 54 wrapped all the way aground the front extending onto and around around the front fenders
    They a had essentially the same
    L head inline .6 motor , 230 cubic inches except Desoto had the 25” block instead of the 23”
    Wow think about a Desoto in SF , no park because of the fluid drive ,only that shaft mounted parking brake .The plymie cranbrook had Hydrive transmission
    Speaking of SF , the Studebaker had “Hill-holder “ brakes. Itty bitty little drums 8” compared to massive 12” Desoto . But they had this hard to adjust thing that would apply brake if the car was rolling backwards ,Aldo they had s wear gizmo which was a hole in the brake pad on the right side with a button like thing out of some alloy that was designed to wear at the same speed as the pad material and attached tontgebddjustment star wheel to automatically make up for pad wear
    Only 80 y.o.’s know how to adjust these !

  20. In the Greyhound picture, only the following bus is a Silver Sides (note the fluted siding). They were built into the 1940’s. Both buses are on suburban runs. Back then, Greyhound had all SF suburban service tied up. Down the peninsula all the way to San Jose, Over the “hill” to Pacifica and somewhat further southbound, Marin County to the north, and east across the Bay Bridge to Walnut Creek and Concord. Greyhound’s SF operation was unique for this reason. No one got laid off in the winter in SF! And drivers all over the west knew this. While layoffs in the winter season were the norm all across the US, not so in SF. Hence drivers who were laid off in Nevada, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, would “bump in” in the winter months until they had enough seniority in their own area to hold all year. That could easily take 4-5 years. The bordering hotel was the “Gordon.” It was famous for certain short term activities. However, the management kept two floors for the exclusive use of Greyhound drivers.

    I also noted a lack of GM autos in that photo.

  21. Why do you assume the Kaiser is having engine problems? Most likely he or she is showing off the new mill to their friends! LOL

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