Polk by Geary by Van Ness by Cedar
Eventually this will become medical offices; part of a greater hospital complex for the Polk Gulch/Cathedral Hill neighborhood. For unlike other parts of the Tenderloin, there’s a purposefulness behind this stretch of seven blighted storefronts. The buildings wait, dreaming of wrecking balls and the grandiose plans of developers. Patient, quiet dreams obscured behind layers of plywood and the drab, mismatched tones of graffiti abatement paint.
Which is exactly why I love this doomed little block.
I want in this parking lot! Ghost signs stretch down the length of the Helen Hotel (formerly the El Rosa Hotel), a small SRO hotel from 1906. Besides the more visible/legible 7Up and hotel signs there are two others running the length of this building. Well preserved and entirely legible signs – except for the odd angle from which they’re currently viewable. Like I said, I take issue with this locked gate. Continue reading
Eagle Apartments – this is a horrible sign. It looks like someone painted it using a paint roller and a bucket of discount white primer. True, some of that inelegance could be from decay and ineffective restoration. However, the font is still awkwardly blocky and the letters badly scaled to one another. Continue reading
I work on Larkin Street in what is affectionately known as the TenderNob. Nestled at the base of oh so genteel Nob Hill, I must pass through slightly less refined bits of the Tenderloin to reach my office. Of all the colorful sights on Larkin Street – and there are many – this ghost sign for a long forgotten cigarette brand is my favorite.
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, produced by Lorillard Tobacco Company, debuted in October 1912 which would place this sign from around that period.