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Chuck Burgers: 1966

Chuck Burgers: 1966

The corner of Grant and Bush in San Francisco in 1966. I took this Kodachrome to show Big Ben's, my favorite place for hamburgers while I was in the Navy, stationed on Treasure Island. View full size.

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Mandarin Cafe building

The building where "Big Ben's" was located has gone through some interesting changes - it was built in the mid-1920s as the Mandarin Cafe, a Chinoiserie showpiece which claimed to take architectural inspiration from the Forbidden City in Beijing. It provided dining and dancing with an Oriental flair to a non-Chinese clientele; an ad from the late 1920s in the San Francisco Musical and Theatrical News indicates that Herb Meyerinck's orchestra played there. The cafe - a casualty of the Depression - declared bankruptcy in 1930 and was later refashioned as the Kubla Khan nightclub, which was popular with servicemen during the 1940s. Sometime between then and when this photo was taken Big Ben's took over the premises. The "City Of Hankow" sign is a holdover from the Kubla Khan days, but with the letters painted out and the neon rearranged. It's now a tourist souvenir shop. If only the original interiors had survived - luckily the exterior of the building is mostly intact.

That's some great parking!

Impressive parking skills shown on this street! With all of the manual transmissions back then, and all the hills in San Fran, I can only imagine the opportunities for parking fender benders.


Well, here's the thing, OTY: as part of my job in the fab world o' printing, a couple of times a year I have to find special tassels (graduation programs, other ceremonial booklets). So no lie, I went to Google and looked to see if they were still in business. Sadly, long gone. Yes, I need a life. (I think mg2288 is right about the Dodge Dart and 62 Chev, not sure abt Mustang.)

51 years

And still no place to park! Ford panel #1, VW #2 and Galaxie #3, for me. And any left over is fine too.

Looks Like

1963 Dodge Dart, 1964 Mustang and 1962 Chevy in front of the American.
I am usually wrong though, so I come on here merely to be made fun of.

This answers my question

I always wondered where people in San Francisco get their tassels.

1958 Plymouth

Looks like Roland LeBay from "Christine" rolled into San Francisco in 1966.

Great burgers!

Ate there many a time when I worked downtown. I don't know if it was called Big Ben's then though. Happy older Chinese gentleman made them.

Takes a lot of practice to parallel park like that on a hill. I'll take the T-Bird in the middle of the pack.

[You mean that 1962 Ford Galaxie sedan? - Dave]

Yes, that one. Our family had one like it, but it was a convertible. Same color though. The tail light got me on that one.

And I wish I'd visited the Rustic Lodge back then. I bet the interior was something else. Too young in 1966.

Not even hiding

Glad to see the VW bug isn't even trying to hide this time. I think it is either a '65 or '66. Kinda hard to tell in the early years. Although yup I would take the old Rambler American too.

Parking excellence

I think this is some of the finest and most consistent parallel parking I have seen. Everyone is close to the curb and has their wheels cut properly for the hill.


That's what this street view reminds me of. Loved Steve McQueen in that movie. The chase scenes are incredible.

Steam Beer

Notice the advert for steam beer leaning against the light pole. I wish I could make out the brewery name, but I can't. Steam beer, also known as California Common, is one of the few original American beer styles, originating in California in the 1800's. It was nearly extinct by the 1960's. Anchor Steam Beer is the prototypical example of modern steam beer.

[The Anchor Brewing Company had just been rejuvenated the previous year. -tterrace]


Heck, I would like to own any car parked on this street. If I had to prioritize, maybe the Ford panel truck 1st, bug 2nd and then I would struggle to choose. Is that a Studebaker up there in front of the Rambler?

[I see a 1961/3 Rambler American ahead of a yellow Metropolitan. -tterrace]

Yup, tterrace: what's in front of the Rambler American tho? Not sure.

I just knew it

I knew if I Googled this address there would be a Starbucks within 50 yards.

[Rotating right brings us to the 1966 angle and the "Dragon Gate," built 1970. -tterrace]

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