Some of the best remaining ghost signs in the city of San Francisco.

21st and York. Signs for Piedmonte Fruits Veggies and Acme Beer. Acme Brewery was a local brewery active from 1907-1954. Owned by the Olympia Brewing Company, they were located on Sansome near Telegraph Hill. During prohibition, the brewery made ice cream and soda. More info on the brand can be found here  http://www.brewerygems.com/acme.htm

21st and York. Signs for Piedmonte Fruits Veggies and Acme Beer. Acme Brewery was a local brewery active from 1907-1954. Owned by the Olympia Brewing Company, they were located on Sansome near Telegraph Hill. During prohibition, the brewery made ice cream and soda. More info on the brand can be found here http://www.brewerygems.com/acme.htm

1105 Battery. Built in 1907 for the Independent Wood Co.; this building was converted to a bar & restaurant sometimes after 1912. Sailors used to be housed in the upper stories. Here are the remnants of a sign advertising the aforementioned restaurant as well as  Rainier Beer,  which was briefly brewed in San Francisco between when Washington went "dry" in 1916 and the rest of the nation followed suit in 1920.

1105 Battery. Built in 1907 for the Independent Wood Co.; this building was converted to a bar & restaurant sometimes after 1912. Sailors used to be housed in the upper stories. Here are the remnants of a sign advertising the aforementioned restaurant as well as Rainier Beer, which was briefly brewed in San Francisco between when Washington went "dry" in 1916 and the rest of the nation followed suit in 1920.

165 Natoma. As shot from the back of SFMOMA.  Historical photo  from the 1970's.

165 Natoma. As shot from the back of SFMOMA. Historical photo from the 1970's.

"You can blow your h..." Partial ad on 430 3rd, as seen from Stillman Street. My guess is that it's from this  Kleenex ad,  circa late 40's/early 50's.

"You can blow your h..." Partial ad on 430 3rd, as seen from Stillman Street. My guess is that it's from this Kleenex ad, circa late 40's/early 50's.

24th and Bryant. Handpainted 7UP bottles on the side of Sammy's Liquors.

24th and Bryant. Handpainted 7UP bottles on the side of Sammy's Liquors.

1946 Van Ness. Built in 1920 by MacDonald and Kahn architects as a showroom for the now defunct California-Oakland Motor Company; the building also showcased Kissel, Dueasenberg, Auburn, and Delage automobiles before being decommissioned as a showroom in 1930. From 1938 to 1990 the building was the site of Ahren's Brothers Pie (later renamed Ahren's Bakery and Coffee shop and finally Ahren's Bakery and Restaurant).  The building has been abandoned since Ahren's closed. Want to learn A LOT about the various automobiles sold in this building and/or see historical photos? Read this PDF from the SF Planning Department. I <3 Historical Reports. http://www.sfplanning.org/ftp/files/notice/2011.0562U.pdf

1946 Van Ness. Built in 1920 by MacDonald and Kahn architects as a showroom for the now defunct California-Oakland Motor Company; the building also showcased Kissel, Dueasenberg, Auburn, and Delage automobiles before being decommissioned as a showroom in 1930. From 1938 to 1990 the building was the site of Ahren's Brothers Pie (later renamed Ahren's Bakery and Coffee shop and finally Ahren's Bakery and Restaurant).

The building has been abandoned since Ahren's closed. Want to learn A LOT about the various automobiles sold in this building and/or see historical photos? Read this PDF from the SF Planning Department. I <3 Historical Reports. http://www.sfplanning.org/ftp/files/notice/2011.0562U.pdf

Larkin at Geary. ZUBELDA CIGARETTES THE DOUBLE PACKAGE – Larkin and Geary – building built in 1909. Hotel Toronto – formerly Leiah Hotel, Wesley Hotel, and Hotel California.  From a 1912 print ad "'You can't describe her, sighs the Khedive, because there was never anything like her. She's a poem, a little mountain brook, a rose garden, a ----.' The P. Lorillard Company named their new Turkish blend cigarette Zubelda, in honor of the Khedive of Egypt's wife. Lorillard felt that their Zubelda was just like the lady, and claimed 'They taste like shooting stars. And their fragrance is like the Garden of Eden. They're as gracious and welcome as a long-absent sweetheart.' "  Zubelda cigarettes debuted in October 1912 which would place this sign from around that period.  Packets included a  small oriental rug insert . Assorted Zubelda ads  here  and  here .

Larkin at Geary. ZUBELDA CIGARETTES THE DOUBLE PACKAGE – Larkin and Geary – building built in 1909. Hotel Toronto – formerly Leiah Hotel, Wesley Hotel, and Hotel California.

From a 1912 print ad "'You can't describe her, sighs the Khedive, because there was never anything like her. She's a poem, a little mountain brook, a rose garden, a ----.' The P. Lorillard Company named their new Turkish blend cigarette Zubelda, in honor of the Khedive of Egypt's wife. Lorillard felt that their Zubelda was just like the lady, and claimed 'They taste like shooting stars. And their fragrance is like the Garden of Eden. They're as gracious and welcome as a long-absent sweetheart.' "

Zubelda cigarettes debuted in October 1912 which would place this sign from around that period.

Packets included a small oriental rug insert. Assorted Zubelda ads here and here.

1255 Polk Stret A fairly well preserved Wrigley's Spearmint sign on the side of 1255 Polk. Under the billboard you can see the faintest outline of an even older ghost sign. Perhaps it's related to this sign on the back of the building?  www.flickr.com/photos/kaseysmith/6287506027

1255 Polk Stret A fairly well preserved Wrigley's Spearmint sign on the side of 1255 Polk. Under the billboard you can see the faintest outline of an even older ghost sign. Perhaps it's related to this sign on the back of the building? www.flickr.com/photos/kaseysmith/6287506027


916 Clay. A sign for MJB Coffee with their classic "MJB COFFEE WHY?" slogan. MJB was one of three major coffee brands founded in San Francisco (the other two being Folgers and Hills Bros.). Founded by Max J. Brandenstein in 1881, the MJB COFFEE WHY? slogan dates to 1910.   Wikipedia  on MJB Coffee. Postcard from the Why? campaign.

916 Clay. A sign for MJB Coffee with their classic "MJB COFFEE WHY?" slogan. MJB was one of three major coffee brands founded in San Francisco (the other two being Folgers and Hills Bros.). Founded by Max J. Brandenstein in 1881, the MJB COFFEE WHY? slogan dates to 1910.

Wikipedia on MJB Coffee. Postcard from the Why? campaign.

689 Geary. One of my favorite signs in San Francisco, uncovered when a billboard was removed from this corner store. Let's count the signs on this: Rainier Beer sign, Ceramic signs for Tree Tea Ceylon &amp; Oolong and MJB Coffee why, A grocery store with free delivery featuring a telephone exchange number. These numbers were phased out in San Francisco in 1953.

689 Geary. One of my favorite signs in San Francisco, uncovered when a billboard was removed from this corner store. Let's count the signs on this: Rainier Beer sign, Ceramic signs for Tree Tea Ceylon & Oolong and MJB Coffee why, A grocery store with free delivery featuring a telephone exchange number. These numbers were phased out in San Francisco in 1953.

1586 Market. After being boarded up and abandoned for nearly two decades, the adjacent building was demolished in 2012, as can be seen  here . And some info on the brand can be found here. "Cereal Mills were close relatives to flour mills and most familiar to our area was the Albers Bros. Milling Company. Albers began in Portland and moved north to Tacoma and Seattle. It was purchased by the Carnation Milk Company of Seattle when Carnation was unsuccessful in stopping Albers from using the trade name "Carnation Mush." Albers was able to keep its local mills going right into the 1960s and 1970s by concentrating on pet and animal foods. Today, owned by the Nestle Corporation, they are still in the animal food and cornmeal business but do not have a mill in Washington."  Oh yes, and "mush" is basically like polenta or cream of wheat.  And this was the  ghost sign  on the demolished neighboring building.

1586 Market. After being boarded up and abandoned for nearly two decades, the adjacent building was demolished in 2012, as can be seen here. And some info on the brand can be found here. "Cereal Mills were close relatives to flour mills and most familiar to our area was the Albers Bros. Milling Company. Albers began in Portland and moved north to Tacoma and Seattle. It was purchased by the Carnation Milk Company of Seattle when Carnation was unsuccessful in stopping Albers from using the trade name "Carnation Mush." Albers was able to keep its local mills going right into the 1960s and 1970s by concentrating on pet and animal foods. Today, owned by the Nestle Corporation, they are still in the animal food and cornmeal business but do not have a mill in Washington."

Oh yes, and "mush" is basically like polenta or cream of wheat.

And this was the ghost sign on the demolished neighboring building.

924 Geary. A riot of faded color between two residential buildings on Geary. Two ghost signs are visible here, the lower one the ghostly geometric lines of a Wrigley's Spearmint Gum ad, the other a barely decipherable sign for the Hotel Erle. Less well preserved than it's twin on Polk Street, this Wrigley's ad is nevertheless a great find for the eagle-eyed. A view of the building's backside can be seen  here . The hotel was once a  brothel .

924 Geary. A riot of faded color between two residential buildings on Geary. Two ghost signs are visible here, the lower one the ghostly geometric lines of a Wrigley's Spearmint Gum ad, the other a barely decipherable sign for the Hotel Erle. Less well preserved than it's twin on Polk Street, this Wrigley's ad is nevertheless a great find for the eagle-eyed. A view of the building's backside can be seen here. The hotel was once a brothel.

Gorgeous mural signs on the east end of historic Pier 31. Per NoeHill.com, "Pier 31 consists of a bulkhead wharf and a substructure for the transit shed built in 1917 and a transit shed and bulkhead building built in 1918." It's been occupied by the China Mail Steamship Company, the Luckenbach Gulf Steamship Company, and the Matson Navigation Company among others.

Gorgeous mural signs on the east end of historic Pier 31. Per NoeHill.com, "Pier 31 consists of a bulkhead wharf and a substructure for the transit shed built in 1917 and a transit shed and bulkhead building built in 1918." It's been occupied by the China Mail Steamship Company, the Luckenbach Gulf Steamship Company, and the Matson Navigation Company among others.

1018 Mission. On the side of the Kean Hotel - several layers of signage including a classic Coca Cola sign and one for the Hotel Andrels.

1018 Mission. On the side of the Kean Hotel - several layers of signage including a classic Coca Cola sign and one for the Hotel Andrels.

Willie "Woo Woo" Wong Playground. Shot through the chain link fence separating the tennis court from Hang Ah Alley, this is the backside of a building with frontage on Clay. I had trouble deciphering the sign and/or finding any information on it. It seems to say something along the lines of Cobillard's/Gobillard's Cumax/Sumax/Climax 700. My guess is it's Cobillard's Cumax 700 and that it advertises an old nutritional supplement. While I didn't find anything terribly concrete I did find spattered info on the internet about CUMax-500 being a vitamin. Seems somewhat close.

Willie "Woo Woo" Wong Playground. Shot through the chain link fence separating the tennis court from Hang Ah Alley, this is the backside of a building with frontage on Clay. I had trouble deciphering the sign and/or finding any information on it. It seems to say something along the lines of Cobillard's/Gobillard's Cumax/Sumax/Climax 700. My guess is it's Cobillard's Cumax 700 and that it advertises an old nutritional supplement. While I didn't find anything terribly concrete I did find spattered info on the internet about CUMax-500 being a vitamin. Seems somewhat close.

2224 Mission. Partial ad for the infamous Hunt's Donuts at Mission and 20th. This ad was uncovered when Commonwealth opened in 2010. From their website:  "Before Commonwealth opened, 2224 Mission was occupied by a Mexican restaurant known for the enormous orange “Aztec” plastic tiles that covered the top half of the building. We removed the tiles during our renovations and were surprised to discover evidence of an even earlier business: Hunt’s Quality Donuts. Since then, long-time Mission residents have stopped by to share their memories of Hunt’s, where a dozen donuts cost a dollar. Apparently, there were eight donut shops on Mission between 16th and 24th in the early 90s, and the Hunt’s at the corner of 20th and Mission was the most notorious, known as “the epicenter of crime” in San Francisco."  Great story on Hunt's Donuts and the history of the neighborhood.  http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=The_Epicenter_of_Crime:_The_Hunt%e2%80%99s_Donuts_Story

2224 Mission. Partial ad for the infamous Hunt's Donuts at Mission and 20th. This ad was uncovered when Commonwealth opened in 2010. From their website:

"Before Commonwealth opened, 2224 Mission was occupied by a Mexican restaurant known for the enormous orange “Aztec” plastic tiles that covered the top half of the building. We removed the tiles during our renovations and were surprised to discover evidence of an even earlier business: Hunt’s Quality Donuts. Since then, long-time Mission residents have stopped by to share their memories of Hunt’s, where a dozen donuts cost a dollar. Apparently, there were eight donut shops on Mission between 16th and 24th in the early 90s, and the Hunt’s at the corner of 20th and Mission was the most notorious, known as “the epicenter of crime” in San Francisco."

Great story on Hunt's Donuts and the history of the neighborhood. http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=The_Epicenter_of_Crime:_The_Hunt%e2%80%99s_Donuts_Story

516 O’Farrell. A reinforced masonry hotel built in 1912 by architect L.B. Hutton, this 140 room SRO currently goes by the Crosby, changed from th Coast Hotel, it's most previous incarnation.  Per the wonderful Up From The Deep blog  "If you look up from Jones Street at the back of what is now the Coast Hotel, you’ll find this lovely fading relic of a time gone by. Shawmut is the original Native American name for the neck of land on which the city of Boston, Massachusetts was founded. Anglicized, the word has also come to mean spring. The Shawmut was so named because many of its rooms have private baths, something of a luxury at the time the hotel was built."   Photo of a car crash in front of the hotel, circa 1941.

516 O’Farrell. A reinforced masonry hotel built in 1912 by architect L.B. Hutton, this 140 room SRO currently goes by the Crosby, changed from th Coast Hotel, it's most previous incarnation.

Per the wonderful Up From The Deep blog

"If you look up from Jones Street at the back of what is now the Coast Hotel, you’ll find this lovely fading relic of a time gone by. Shawmut is the original Native American name for the neck of land on which the city of Boston, Massachusetts was founded. Anglicized, the word has also come to mean spring. The Shawmut was so named because many of its rooms have private baths, something of a luxury at the time the hotel was built."

Photo of a car crash in front of the hotel, circa 1941.

787 Brannan. Mural layered over ghost signs. The very faded and partially obscured sign for Cribben and Sexton Co. Universal Stoves &amp; Ranges/Furnaces. Wonder when the change from furnaces to ranges was made?  Historic picture  from the SF Library taken in 1933.

787 Brannan. Mural layered over ghost signs. The very faded and partially obscured sign for Cribben and Sexton Co. Universal Stoves & Ranges/Furnaces. Wonder when the change from furnaces to ranges was made? Historic picture from the SF Library taken in 1933.

166 Turk.Ghost signs stretch down the whole length of the Helen Hotel, a small SRO hotel from 1906. Besides the more visible/legible 7Up sign there are two other signs running the length of this building.  The middle sign is for Sorensen Co, a jewelers with outlets on the 700 block of Market and the 2500 block of Mission.  Historical pics  of Sorensen Co: Another, more simple  Sorensen Co sign . The back sign is a Wrigley's gum sign over/under a Rainer Beer sign..

166 Turk.Ghost signs stretch down the whole length of the Helen Hotel, a small SRO hotel from 1906. Besides the more visible/legible 7Up sign there are two other signs running the length of this building.

The middle sign is for Sorensen Co, a jewelers with outlets on the 700 block of Market and the 2500 block of Mission. Historical pics of Sorensen Co: Another, more simple Sorensen Co sign. The back sign is a Wrigley's gum sign over/under a Rainer Beer sign..

As shot from Mason and Eddy. The Crystal Hotel, formerly Jesse Hayman’s brothel, formerly the Gotham Lodgings, formerly the Belva Hotel. This rooming house was built in 1908 by Architect: Charles R. Wilson.  More info on it's time as a brothel, and additional pics of the sign, can be found  here . A great history on the Omar Cigarette brand can be found  here .

As shot from Mason and Eddy. The Crystal Hotel, formerly Jesse Hayman’s brothel, formerly the Gotham Lodgings, formerly the Belva Hotel. This rooming house was built in 1908 by Architect: Charles R. Wilson.

More info on it's time as a brothel, and additional pics of the sign, can be found here. A great history on the Omar Cigarette brand can be found here.

166 Turk. El Rosa Hotel 166 Turk St. Transient Rooms and a very intact 7up sign. A thirty room SRO most recently known as the Helen Hotel, this building was built in 1906 by architect: C.A. Meussdorffer. Many of the participants in the Compton Cafeteria Riot lived in this hotel.

166 Turk. El Rosa Hotel 166 Turk St. Transient Rooms and a very intact 7up sign. A thirty room SRO most recently known as the Helen Hotel, this building was built in 1906 by architect: C.A. Meussdorffer. Many of the participants in the Compton Cafeteria Riot lived in this hotel.

420 Jones. The only ghost sign with a typo in San Francisco. As shot from Ellis. Riveira Hotel (notice the typo). Built in 1907 it was originally known as the Avon Hotel. Once a quasi-luxurious hotel it's now a 37 room SRO.

420 Jones. The only ghost sign with a typo in San Francisco. As shot from Ellis. Riveira Hotel (notice the typo). Built in 1907 it was originally known as the Avon Hotel. Once a quasi-luxurious hotel it's now a 37 room SRO.

302 Eddy. Hotel Herald. (not the punctuation) Steel Frame BLDG. 200 Rooms With Bath &amp; Shower Seven story hotel built in 1910. This would have been a high end building back in the day, with the “steel frame building” line nodding to the expense and care of the post-earthquake construction.

302 Eddy. Hotel Herald. (not the punctuation) Steel Frame BLDG. 200 Rooms With Bath & Shower Seven story hotel built in 1910. This would have been a high end building back in the day, with the “steel frame building” line nodding to the expense and care of the post-earthquake construction.

3296 22nd . No Percentage Drug Co. Cut Rate Druggist Est. 1891. This sign was revealed and refurbished during a 2008 renovation. Building dates from 1927.

3296 22nd . No Percentage Drug Co. Cut Rate Druggist Est. 1891. This sign was revealed and refurbished during a 2008 renovation. Building dates from 1927.