Here’s fun comparison showing the view from Cortland Ave. looking east from Nevada St. That’s July 31, 1931 up above, and January 18, 2016 below.
The most surprising thing about the two photos is that (apart from the sepia-tone coloring and more modern cars) the streetscape from this location hasn’t changed a whole lot in the last 85 years. The buildings on all four corners of the Nevada intersection are still in place and mostly unchanged.
Look a little more closely, and there’s one charming detail from way-back-when: There’s a young girl near the northwest corner riding a scooter down the hill toward Bayshore. Without a helmet! <Insert horrified parental gasp>
But in a more substantive way, the view from this angle is somewhat misleading. Yes, the view looks similar today when you look down the hill, but when you’re at the bottom of the hill looking up, the changes are far more dramatic.
Here’s what that looked like. This is the view from Cortland at Bayshore, looking up the hill toward Nevada. There’s no date on this photo, but the cars on Cortland tell us it’s from roughly the same era as the older photo above; circa mid-1920s or early 1930s:
Different! That first left turn is Hilton Street, and the embankment behind it now supports the highway 101 overpass. But most noteworthy is the big row of greenhouses visible just up the hill on the north side of Cortland. And, of course, no houses!
IMAGES: 1931 view, via UC Berkeley Bancroft Library. 2016 view by Telstar Logistics. View from Bayshore courtesy of the Bernal Heights History Project.