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This 1966 Video of Market Street Neon Signs is Spellbinding

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Back when Market Street was making news for preparing to go car free, this pretty amazing video popped back up in the world. It’s incredible to take a peek at and see what Market Street looked like in the 1960s.

Market Street used to be one of San Francisco’s bustling commercial hubs. Just look how beautiful and luminous it was in this video:

A few landmarks like The Warfield, and The Orpheum are still around but most of these businesses are long gone and have unfortunately taken their lovely neon signs with them.

I found this video on the YouTube page for San Francisco Neon, but I’m not sure where they got it. What’s extra rad is that someone in the comments figured out almost exactly when this footage was taken. As user antaresrichard mentions:

This footage of Market Street was taken no earlier than Thursday, December 22, 1966 and no later than the following Thursday. Checking the marquees of the Telenews and Paris theaters, with their one week engagements, against the San Francisco Chronicle’s archival movie listings produced the aforementioned time window.

There is further conjecture in the comments that given the quality of the footage, it was most likely recorded to be used in a movie or TV show shot in San Francisco.

Unfortunately, once they started digging under Market Street while constructing BART in the late 60s, it made the area an absolute mess and had a dire impact on many of the local businesses. In fact, most of Market from Van Ness to 5th Street still hasn’t recovered.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.

1 Comment

  1. Hank Chapot
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am

    in junior high, my best friend’s dad had a pawn shop on 7th street opposite the Greyhound bus
    terminal. We used to go up and kick it on Market street just about 1966, but in the daytime. We searched for old fashioned metal cage elevators. Great fun.