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Leftward Ho: 1919

Leftward Ho: 1919

San Francisco, 1919. "Cadillac touring car at marina." Putting rubber to the road with a variety of treads. 5x7 glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.


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Formerly the Fair?

If this is Chestnut Street, would that bare land on the left have been the site of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition?

[Yes; in this area specifically, "The Zone," the area of amusement concessions. -tterrace]

It's Chestnut Street, not Bay Street.

This would be Chestnut St, which is the original 1913 route of the Lincoln Highway It was the northernmost street in this area and had a streetcar line on it. The bare land was developed into the Marina District neighborhood, with Chestnut being the main commercial strip.

[Which would place the row of similar houses in the background on the 2900 block of Van Ness Ave., where at least one of them seems to remain. -tterrace]

Scary Stuff

I used to ride motorcycles with no turn signals well into the 90's, it was always a little scary and iffy approaching turns and stops. People rarely knew about hand signals and what they meant, which made me extra cautious about turns and stops. It felt like I was riding with a big old target painted on my back.


I don't know about the rest of the country, but in West Virginia we still had to know our hand signals to pass a driving test in 1975. Many motorcycles still didn't have turn signals and believe it or not, quite a few old cars and trucks were still around with only a single stoplight. Never had to turn my palm rearward for left or right turns. Came naturally for stops though.


Note the "fat man's steering wheel," with hinged spoke, that could be swung out of the way for ease of entry.

Illegal Hand Signal

Where, in the South, I passed my driving test 67 years ago, one had to have the palm facing rearwards in hand signals. The palm was said to be lighter in color.

Hand Signals

As the owner of a 1930 roadster lacking turn signals, I can attest to the reactions of modern drivers to hand signals such as that pictured here: they wave back.

Location clue

Over on the left is the sign and tower of the Ghirardelli chocolate factory, so my guess is that we're probably on Bay St. and the empty block is an as yet undeveloped part of Fort Mason.

Good Roads Movement

At first I thought that window sticker said "Yes Cool Roads" but then I realized it's Good Roads. Here's some info:

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