351 Turk
       
     
YMCA Hotel Golden Gate at Leavenworth
       
     
180 Golden Gate (as seen from Leavenworth)
       
     
Numerous layered signs at 151 Leavenworth
       
     
245 Leavenworth #1
       
     
245 Leavenworth #2
       
     
335 Leavenworth
       
     
766 Sutter
       
     
701 Sutter
       
     
975 Bush
       
     
776 Bush
       
     
734 Bush
       
     
California at Grant
       
     
616 Grant
       
     
1140 Powell
       
     
840 Jackson
       
     
1339 Stockton
       
     
740 Broadway
       
     
516 O'Farrell
       
     
140 Mason #1
       
     
140 Mason #2
       
     
34 Turk
       
     
923 Market
       
     
1017 Market #1
       
     
1017 Market #2
       
     
1028 Market
       
     
1015 Market
       
     
1049 Market
       
     
1087 and 1095 Market Street
       
     
1240 Market #1
       
     
1576 Market
       
     
20 12th #1
       
     
20 12th #2
       
     
1693 Market
       
     
1424 Polk
       
     
Larkin at Polk
       
     
924 Geary #1
       
     
924 Geary
       
     
Larkin at Geary
       
     
925 Geary
       
     
378 Golden Gate
       
     
1255 Polk
       
     
416 Turk
       
     
710 Ellis
       
     
921 Post #1
       
     
921 Post #2
       
     
351 Turk
       
     
351 Turk

Oasis Apartments (formerly Whitehall Apartments, formerly the YMCA Hotel). This 386 room hotel was built in 1928 by architect Frederick H. Meyer for the YMCA. It was one of three YMCA buildings he designed in San Francisco and his greatest work pre-1945. It has since been converted to apartments.

This building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the last San Francisco buildings built in the Chicago style of two-part or three-part vertical blocks. It is one of only a handful of hotels the YMCA built, and the only one in California.

To increase occupancy, the hotel began accepting women in 1935 which dates the sign to 1935 or later.

The National Register of Historic Places application - complete with architectural drawings - can be found here.

YMCA Hotel Golden Gate at Leavenworth
       
     
YMCA Hotel Golden Gate at Leavenworth

Oasis Apartments (formerly Whitehall Apartments, formerly the YMCA Hotel). This 386 room hotel was built in 1928 by architect Frederick H. Meyer for the YMCA. It was one of three YMCA buildings he designed in San Francisco and his greatest work pre-1945. It has since been converted to apartments.

This building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the last San Francisco buildings built in the Chicago style of two-part or three-part vertical blocks. It is one of only a handful of hotels the YMCA built, and the only one in California.

To increase occupancy, the hotel began accepting women in 1935 which dates the sign to 1935 or later.

The National Register of Historic Places application - complete with architectural drawings - can be found here.

180 Golden Gate (as seen from Leavenworth)
       
     
180 Golden Gate (as seen from Leavenworth)

Building was built in 1908. City Century Garage, now the 826 Valencia Tenderloin Center, on the corner of Leavenworth and Golden Gate. Due to fencing in the alley you can read the word GASOLINE but not the entirety of the sign. Public garages often offered automobile services beyond before World War II. This garage likely sold gasoline and did minor repairs for the cars parked there.

Pre-earthquake, Golden Gate Avenue was San Francisco's auto row. After the earthquake, around 1910, this industry would move to Van Ness.

Numerous layered signs at 151 Leavenworth
       
     
Numerous layered signs at 151 Leavenworth

Now the Page Hotel and the TL Tobacco and Market, this wall sports signs for the Page Apartments, The Page Saloon, and an ad for Wieland's Extra Pale Lager Beer. John Wieland's Brewing Co, was a small SF brewery that operated from the 1850's through the 1920's on 2nd Street (before operating in San Jose from the 1933-1956 ). Owned by famous San Francisco figure John Weiland, it was originally called the Philadelphia Brewery. Given the building's age and Prohibition, this ad is either from 1907-1920 or 1933-1956.

This Flickr user has a 1912 ad for Weiland's Beer.

Curbed has a larger article on the brewery.

245 Leavenworth #1
       
     
245 Leavenworth #1

The Morning Side Apartments are a forty-eight unit SRO built in 1910 by Architect H. Geilfuss. From this side you can see a sign advertising it's former incarnation, The Grand Rapids Apartments. 

Old SFist article about how awful the building is.

245 Leavenworth #2
       
     
245 Leavenworth #2

The Morning Side Apartments are a forty-eight unit SRO built in 1910 by Architect H. Geilfuss. From this side you can see the overlapping remnants of two old signs - the complete, albeit faded, Apartments Leavenworth 245 sign and a partial remnant of  the Lady Florence Apartments sign. 

Old SFist article about how awful the building is.

335 Leavenworth
       
     
335 Leavenworth

This 1907 SRO by architects Welsh and Carey is currently the Hotel Western. Previous incarnations include the Hotel Rocklin and the Hotel Black. The faded Hotel Rocklin sign on the side can be dated to 1914-1923.

766 Sutter
       
     
766 Sutter

A nearly illegible sign saying Lucerne Apartments is on the side of The Lucerne; a Lower Nob Hill apartment building built in 1910. 

The building appears in the 2004 film The Assassination of Richard Nixon

A 1964 image of the building can be seen here.

701 Sutter
       
     
701 Sutter

Sign for the Sussex Hotel, a six story concrete and masonry Colonial Revival apartment building from 1910 currently serving as a Subway with boutique office space in the upper floors. 

The building is included in the historic Lower Nob Hill Apartment Hotel District.

975 Bush
       
     
975 Bush

The Hotel Mayflower is a 102 room hotel built in 1929. It was noticeable for having bathrooms, murphy beds, and "pullman buffets" , aka kitchenettes, in each room.

From the Hotel's website.

776 Bush
       
     
776 Bush

Illegible apartment sign on the side of the Burke Lewis apartment building; a classic 61 unit Lower Nob Hill apartment building from 1911. 

734 Bush
       
     
734 Bush

Faded sign for  Rockingham Hotel Apartments. Another classic 1910 Lower Nob Hill apartment building. 

Check out this great historical postcard of the Rockingham.

The building is included in the historic Lower Nob Hill Apartment Hotel District.

California at Grant
       
     
California at Grant

Wedged into a small, inaccesable alley next to the Ritz Carlton is a sign for the Sing Fat Co. Bazaar.  Built  in 1908, the building was designed with a distinctive Americanized Cantonese flair. Both the Sing Fat Co Bazaar and it's "sister building" across California Street, the Sing Chong Company, were designed by  architect Thomas Patterson Ross. Additional branches were to be found in LA and NYC.

Check out this beautiful historical postcard of the building.

And a photo of the actual sign in question from 1951. 
 

616 Grant
       
     
616 Grant

On the side of the present-day Canton Bazaar, a ghost sign is obscured by the back end of Old Saint Mary's Cathedral. Built in 1854 and destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, the church was rebuilt in 1909 and extended/remodeled in 1929. That would date this sign somewhere between 1909 and 1929. 

1140 Powell
       
     
1140 Powell

Sign for a defunct parking garage on the backside of the Powell Automotive Center in Chinatown. Shot from Stone Street, a small alley in between Powell Street and the Chinese Hospital on Jackson. 

840 Jackson
       
     
840 Jackson

Only the faintest of impressions remain on this Chinatown boarding house built in 1910. 

1339 Stockton
       
     
1339 Stockton

Painted over and faded sign on the side of a mixed use Chinatown building. 

740 Broadway
       
     
740 Broadway

FAST Call Hom Mortgage 749-2800 (notice the Chinese characters running down the right hand of the ad). A now defunct local mortgage company run by a former mayoral candidate. Also; note the strange sign from Pier 33 on the roof. Is that an ad or a salvaged piece of scrap that's been repurposed for this building?

516 O'Farrell
       
     
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.

140 Mason #1
       
     
140 Mason #1

Was the Olympic Hotel, now the San Francisco International Youth Hostel. 
 

140 Mason #2
       
     
140 Mason #2

Was the Olympic Hotel, now the San Francisco International Youth Hostel

34 Turk
       
     
34 Turk

Pic of the Dalt Hotel sign before it was restored in 2013. The Dalt is 177 room SRO from 1908 located just off Market Street.

Repainted sign can be seen here.

An article about the renovation of the hotel (and it's sordid history of deaths) can be found here.

Street in front of the Dalt circa 1944.

923 Market
       
     
923 Market

1907 building with a half obscured ad on the side. The middle line is definitely Shoe Co. Any ideas on what the upper and lower lines read?

1017 Market #1
       
     
1017 Market #1

1017 Market Street was built in 1909 by Architect George Applegarth as the headquarters for the local chain department store Eastern Outfitting Company. Changed to Union Furniture Co in the late 1940's, remnants of both signs are visible on either side of the building. 

From the Up From the Deep Blog:
"From a Market Street sidewalk perspective, the Eastern Outfitting Company Building’s enormous, unrelieved expanses of brick are mostly hidden by the buildings on either side. The illusion created by the false front is largely dependent on looking upward from street level. The giant Corinthian order columns and capitals are constructed of terra-cotta tiles; and the entablature, seemingly so massive, is in fact hollow—a galvanized-iron box. Architecture like this is for me transcendent; it turns the street into a stage set, which makes otherwise hidden parts of the building even more tantalizing. The deus ex machina, you might say, is the utilitarian brick that makes up the building behind the facade."

Great historical photos here.

And article in the San Francisco Call circa 1909.

And here is a pic of their Los Angeles location. Additional locations were in Oakland. Portland, Seattle. Tacoma. Spokane, and Sacramento. 

1017 Market #2
       
     
1017 Market #2

1017 Market Street was built in 1909 by Architect George Applegarth as the headquarters for the local chain department store Eastern Outfitting Company. Changed to Union Furniture Co in the late 1940's, remnants of both signs are visible on either side of the building. 

From the Up From the Deep Blog:
"From a Market Street sidewalk perspective, the Eastern Outfitting Company Building’s enormous, unrelieved expanses of brick are mostly hidden by the buildings on either side. The illusion created by the false front is largely dependent on looking upward from street level. The giant Corinthian order columns and capitals are constructed of terra-cotta tiles; and the entablature, seemingly so massive, is in fact hollow—a galvanized-iron box. Architecture like this is for me transcendent; it turns the street into a stage set, which makes otherwise hidden parts of the building even more tantalizing. The deus ex machina, you might say, is the utilitarian brick that makes up the building behind the facade."

Great historical photos here.

And article in the San Francisco Call circa 1909.

And here is a pic of their Los Angeles location. Additional locations were in Oakland. Portland, Seattle. Tacoma. Spokane, and Sacramento. 

1028 Market
       
     
1028 Market

Closed in 2003, this is part of the signage for the boarded up and derelict Hollywood Billiards. Sign was removed when the building was renovated in 2013/2014. 

History of Hollywood Billiards. 

Historical photo of the exterior.

1015 Market
       
     
1015 Market

 

Converted to loft apartments in 2005, this building used to house the Weinstein Co. department store. There are at least two obscured ghost signs here. At the top of the building you can make out the whiter-than-the-surrounding-white of the W,E, I, and N in Weinstein Co. Below this is a different, perhaps newer, white-on-blue sign with a solitary N visible. Why the bad, half-assed paint job property managers?

 

Historic photos:

upfromthedeep.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/weinsteins_1950...

 

 

 

1049 Market
       
     
1049 Market

A sign partially obscured by the old Weinstein Co. Department Store. All that remains is S-T-E-R-L-I but a little digging through the photo archives reveals that this building was once the home of Sterling Furniture Store.

Historical pictures of Sterling Furniture Store can be seen at the San Francisco Public Library Image Archive here and here and here.

1087 and 1095 Market Street
       
     
1087 and 1095 Market Street

Old painted signage for the Aida Hotel and Grant Building. 

The Grant Building, built in 1904, is one of the few Market Street buildings to have survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. 

Great historical photos from FoundSF.

1240 Market #1
       
     
1240 Market #1

Signs advertising a piano company on the side of a 1908 concrete masonry office building. Running vertically, parallel to the face of the building, it says C.G. Horn Pianos. Across the top, just under the roofline, is says ______  _______ Pianos for Rent. 

C.G. Horn Pianos was painted over in 2013. The roofline sign is still intact.

1576 Market
       
     
1576 Market

George Cassar A-1 Moving and Storage. On Market near Page. 

UPDATE: As of 10/24/11 this building is gone. However, it's demolition exposed an even more spectacular sign

20 12th #1
       
     
20 12th #1

Layers upon layers. I think there are three signs visible in this shot for a grand total of six for the building as a whole. This building is eventually slated to be torn down and replaced with 500+ condos.

20 12th #2
       
     
20 12th #2

Layers upon layers. I think there are three signs visible in this shot for a grand total of six for the building as a whole. This building is eventually slated to be torn down and replaced with 500+ condos.

1693 Market
       
     
1693 Market

 

Long gone black, red, and white sign on the side of the Allen Hotel. Only random letters and partial pieces were still showing. The entire wall was painted over in 2014.

 

Historical photo from 1964. Looks like the signs were long gone by that point in time. webbie1.sfpl.org/multimedia/sfphotos/AAB-1907.jpg

1424 Polk
       
     
1424 Polk

Harvester Cigar
Record Breaker Now 5¢

A pic of the sign before vandals tagged the horse head emblem: 

As was common with cigars, Harvester Cigars were named after The Harvester, a moderately successful racehorse who set a long-standing half mile record in 1925. The cigar price was cut from 10¢ to 5¢ in 1933 which would place this ad between 1933 and 1939 when prices rose back to 10¢.

The Harvester Brand continued into the 1960’s and 70’s but with a different aesthetic to their advertising and packaging. 

Notice the very faint apartment sign towards the top of the cigar sign. Wonder what that originally said and when it was painted. 

You can see part of the sign in this pic from 1957. 

Larkin at Polk
       
     
Larkin at Polk

 

Great mid-century meatpackers sign. Patek-Ecklon Division of Durham Meat Co. The bottom half of the sign and the slogan "Exclusively Selected Custom Contr------- has been painted over. A pre-paint job photo can be found here (expreshletters.blogspot.com/2011/03/patek-ecklon.html).

and a great painting of it can be found here (www.jessicahess.com/patek-ecklon.htm).

 

In 2013 the sign was incorporated into a mural by the artist Augustine Kofie. A photo of that mural can be seen here (www.flickr.com/photos/kaseysmith/10063415246/).

  

In 2014 the sign and mural were whitewashed and covered by a new mural. A photo of that mural can be seen here (www.flickr.com/photos/kaseysmith/13898408364/).

924 Geary #1
       
     
924 Geary #1

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
       
     
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 Wrigley's sign on the front-side can be seen here.

The hotel was once a brothel.

Larkin at Geary
       
     
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.

925 Geary
       
     
925 Geary

The Dunloe Apartments as seen from Myrtle Street. This five story, 48 unit building was built in 1913. Not to be confused with the Dunloe Apartments on Eddy Street  (built circa 1923).

378 Golden Gate
       
     
378 Golden Gate

Sign for Hampton Court Apartments wedged into an alley.

And here's a picture of the building in 1925.

1255 Polk
       
     
1255 Polk

 

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

 

 

 

416 Turk
       
     
416 Turk

The Glenwood Apartments - not to be confused with The Glenwood on Mason or the Glenwood Hotel on Sutter - is a 68 room SRO built in 1907. Note the illegible sign underneath the main building sign. Anyone know what it originally said? 

710 Ellis
       
     
710 Ellis

Marathon Hotel - formerly the Marathon Apartments. A four story, brick facade SRO built in 1907 by architects Crim & Scott. 
 

921 Post #1
       
     
921 Post #1

When the facade of 927 Post was removed, the full sign was unobstructed. While there was no single style for Owl Cigar signs of this vintage, here are some images of complete, unobscured signs from Google Images, and here is an aerial view of the sign from Google Maps
 

921 Post #2
       
     
921 Post #2

As seen from Google Maps. From this angle you can see portions of the Owl Cigar sign not visible from street level. The "standard" Owl Cigar sign would have said Owl Cigar 5¢ and possibly had a rendition of an owl on it. I'm assuming the white paint is obscuring the 5¢ and/or the owl although I could be wrong. 

The street level view can be seen here.