An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Action on the Streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon

Today’s feature contains two videos of film shot on the streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon in the late-1930s and the 1940s.

The first video begins with almost two-minutes of fantastic color footage of cars and trucks on the streets of the City via the San Francisco Public library. Also included are cable cars on the Presidio Avenue, California and Market Streets route and the O’Farrell, Jones and Hyde Streets run. The balance of the video is made up of other interesting black and white stock footage shot in Los Angeles and a short film clip taken in a foreign city beginning at 5:18.

  • O’Farrell, Jones and Hyde Street cable car.

  • Stock footage (above and below) on the streets of Los Angeles.

“1940s Cars, Cities and Traffic Footage” contains San Francisco and Los Angeles street scenes

This second fast-paced video proving that aggressive driving is nothing new found via Clayton Pattison was filmed in Portland, Oregon in 1939 at the intersection of Sandy Boulevard and 33rd. Avenue (the video title is incorrect.)

Share with us what you find of interest in both of the videos.


29 responses to “Action on the Streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon

  1. Item 1 of 4 I believe shows California St. climbing west up to Nob Hill with possibly the Stanford Court on the right..and a ’39 Ford DeLuxe at the last intersection.

    In Item 3 of 4, a trio of ’41’s: a Ford, an Olds and a Buick behind the officer in Mexico City, I think

  2. In the 1st video, at the beginning after 1:47, the ’41 Olds in Mexico city made the other cars around it look so much older…as the ’42 Ninety Eights would soon do to the ‘41’s The ’41 or later Clipper taxi and ’39-’41 Lincoln Zephyr seen after 5:30 were a treat

  3. These films confirm what I’ve said about myself all along. I was born way too late! To have been a kid in the 40’s must’ve been a special time. I know it’s all relative, but still. Beautiful footage taken at the dawn of color film!! Thank you Mr. Greenlees!

    • Hi Will, don’t kid yourself, my folks and grandparents said there was nothing glorious about the “good ol’ days”. Loved ones died like flies and war was a constant threat. If you made it through the 70’s, now THOSE were the good ol’ days.

      • There’s that too, Howard. Every generation has their views as to what was ‘good’ about their past I guess. The period after WWII was one of huge growth in this country, and America prospered. To have been say, 25 and buying a brand-new `57 Oldsmobile, or a new home had to be a memorable occasion!

  4. Just love the videos, except these are a bit before my time. One thing is clear back then, it was every person for themselves, and a lack of regard for traffic laws, if any. Non-lined streets looked the most hazardous. Not many trucks, looked like a Ford bus early in the 1st video, and a mid-30’s IH C series bus in the mystery city, Poland maybe? @ 6:24, 3 friends in a hot rod and another hot rod, looks like a nicer one @ 7:41. @ 9:36, looks like a mid 30’s Chevy cabover. In the 2nd one, the truck “muscling” his way through the intersection@ .38, I believe is a mid 30’s GMC and @1:25, the biker almost buys it. Thanks for the videos, not many sites offer that, making OM still #1!!

    • Howard, the tip-off that the city was likely Mexico City was the “Cerveza” billboard @ 4:00, seeing the people alighting from the bus @ 4:35…it’s got a prominent label on the side of “Chapultepec.”
      With multiple scenes of ’41 American cars, it’s unlikely to be any city in Poland with its utter devastation following the German and Soviet invasions in September of 1939.

      • Quite so. The several ads in Spanish indicate it is a large Latin American city and exclude Brazil (Portuguese language). At the time there was no other town in the continent with so many new American cars as Mexico City. Buenos Aires would have lots of European models.

  5. That second video reminds me of a trip to Boston.
    Signs and traffic lights are just roadside decorations.

  6. No doubt some of the footage shot from the rear of moving vehicles was intended to serve as studio backdrop for movie scenes taking place in ostensibly moving automobiles. With all of the footage available, one has to wonder why in many old-movieauto scenes the same backdrop appears more than once.

  7. I recognize the third photo as being a single frame shot that was taken from a 6 minute video called “A Drive Through Los Angeles” that dates from early 1947. The shot can be seen at 3:20 in the video which is definitely worth watching at least once.

  8. In one of my favorite old films, the 1940 Barbara Stanwick, Fred MacMurray holiday romance “Remember the Night”, the stars are in a car and the rear projection background is clearly from a couple of decades earlier.
    Nothing but 20s cars and very old looking trucks…and if I remember correctly, a horse drawn wagon…

    • I recall Barbara Stanwyck & Fred MC Murray in “Double Indemnity” (1944) when she’s driving what appears to be a `39 Olds sedan, on her way to have her husband killed on the train. She flashed her headlights at Fred McMurray to pick him up at the train station after the “deed”.

  9. In the first film, Cars of the ’40s, at 0:59 you see an olive-drab Packard coming uphill on the left; must be a military car. The black-and-white section that starts at around 5:00 must be in Europe, probably Germany, as it shows several Mercedes-Benzes. At about 7:40 there’s a parked Ford hot-rod. Finally, at about 9:35, it’s interesting to car folks to note the Winton Hotel and the Stanley Hotel are “parked” across the street from each other. Thanks for these films, David!

  10. The first photo looks like it could be Leavenworth and California sts area in Frisco. The laundromat may well be the one where the wife went to do laundry once a month (military pay).

  11. Isn’t the SF Cable Car closeup on lowerJones St. shot just past the corner of Golden Gate Ave., with the old Hibernia Bank building columns on the left?

    • I do not think that it is, as that shot which is taken directly from the video of 1940’s cars is of a cable car which belonged to the long defunct Jones and O’Farrell line which got truncated back in 1954 with only a relatively small portion of it on Hyde street being preserved. So the picture would likely be about five blocks up from Golden Gate Avenue.

  12. The ’41 Lincoln seen driving next to the Packard Clipper taxi is a long-wheelbase Custom sedan or limousine. Those were the only sedan models with a rectangular rear window. When both cars take off, a gust of oil smoke appears, question was it from the tired taxi six or the notorious Lincoln H-Series V-12?

  13. Pretty cool, riding around in an old time street view Google mobile. That hill in the first photo and in the video clip would have been a nightmare driving up and down! The bottom of that hill would have been a great place for a wrecker service. I can’t see a day going by without a wreck or pile up. Thanks for the show!

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