Past / Present

September 4, 2020

Did you know about the fabulous OpenSFHistory, a repository of scanned images donated by a private collector who was active from the 60’s through the early 2000’s”? It’s a time sink.

I’d usually rather wipe my eyes with mud than trawl through old photos. You’re unlikely to come across any creativity, interesting composition or subjects in a city photo archive. But two things struck me as I browsed.

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We’ve come a long way.

First off, Cole Valley in 1894. Over 120 years ago, a large swath of San Francisco was for cows. No cars, no airplanes etc. What astounds me is how much the world has changed, and honestly in such a short space of time. 120 years, my great grandfather was still alive.

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But some things never change.

But a few photos later I spot a familiar corner shop, 85+ years old. 85+ years of selling groceries. Same corner. Same corner shop. For whatever reason, zoning, family businesses, convenience, a deli in 1907 was still a deli in 2020.