I stumbled across the photo above a few years ago. It shows the corner of South Van Ness Avenue at Army (Cesar Chavez) as it looked in 1953, shortly after the completion of the now-infamous widening that turned Army into a major east-west thoroughfare.
Since I just happened to be just a few blocks from that very spot when I first saw the 1953 photo, I wandered over to see how the scene changed after all these years. Behold, the same view, as it looked on August 12, 2008:
In a way, the most impressive thing is how *little* has changed, overall. Gas used to cost 25 cents a gallon, but in 2008 it sold for $4.17. (It’s cheaper now, unfortunately.) Notice that the microwave tower that sits atop Bernal today was just a little sproutling in 1953. It took a long time for it to grow so big and tall and beautiful.
Otherwise, Bernal Hill look very much as it did 50 years ago. My favorite detail is the Golden Gate Cleaners, visible at center left. The shop is still there, and with the same neon signage. Like a bug in amber.
The 1953 photo came from the Cushman Collection at Indiana University, which, for reasons unknown, maintains an excellent online collection of vintage color photographs of San Francisco. PROCRASTINATION WARNING: Do not click this link to the Cushman Collection website unless you have at least an hour to burn in blissful Technicolor historic reverie. You have been warned.