Let the Chase Begin!! Bernal’s Bullitt Cameo, Then and Now

Although Bernal Heights has earned many a claim to Hollywood fame, my favorite is the role our neghborhood played in Bullitt, the 1968 Steve McQueen classic. It’s a great flick, but the most famous part, of course, is the epic car chase that screeches and sprawls around the street of San Francisco.

Bernal Heights plays a starring role here, because the chase itself gets underway just on the other side of US 101, near the intersection of Bayshore and Marin (near the site of the current car wash). The vroom-vroom action begins at the intersection  Army/Cesar Chavez and Precita Avenue, when two goons driving a Dodge Charger try to put the move on McQueen in his Ford Mustang. This screen grab shows the very moment when the chase gets underway:

Notice Bernal Hill making a cameo in the background, looking green and properly manicured. But perhaps the most interesting thing about this moment in the film is how little this corner of the neighborhood has changed in the last 40 years:

Fun stuff. From here the chase heads up York Street before turning onto Peralta, and from there it careens around San Francisco without rhyme or reason, as McQueen screeches around the corner in one part of town – only to reemerge in another. neighborhood, miles away.

The chase is a fun ride, and if you want to see it again, you can watch the thing right here:

Drive safely!

Hat Tip: @burritojustice

12 thoughts on “Let the Chase Begin!! Bernal’s Bullitt Cameo, Then and Now

  1. I take pride in the fact that San Francisco is the setting of two of the greatest action flicks ever: Bullitt and Dirty Harry.

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  7. I took three of my young kids to watch the BULLIT scene coming down on Guadalupe, to Bayshore Blvd. We hiked up to the side of a hill for a good vantage point with many others. An announcer kept announcing for quiet. Soon the exciting event was over with the speeding car going into the burning mock buildings at the foot of San Bruno Mountain. The car, hooked to a similar car came roaring around a corner and sped down to almost level ground. Suddenly the “other” car was released and shot into the buildings that exploded. My little one screamed at the sight, it was pretty intense and I felt bad for her. The Brisbane volunteer firemen raced to put out the fire. It was something to see, that I will never see again.

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