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This is what San Francisco regarded like 100 years in the past

Although 1922 — exactly 100 years ago — feels as far away as the Andromeda Galaxy, a quick trip out to San Francisco’s Lands End will give you a glimpse into the past.

On Oct. 7, 1922, the oil tanker SS Lyman Stewart left Martinez loaded down with barrels of oil. Her destination was Washington state, and the day was soupy with fog so thick it muffled the sound of ship whistles. As the Lyman Stewart navigated out of the Golden Gate and north toward Washington, the cargo ship Walter A. Luckenbach emerged from the fog. Too late, the ships’ captains turned to avoid a head-on collision; the Luckenbach tore through the port bow of the Lyman Stewart, gashing her hull. For a few minutes, the ships were stuck together, trapped in a dangerous embrace, until the current began to decouple them.

Although the Luckenbach was badly damaged, it was able to limp back to port. The Lyman Stewart, however, was sinking — almost. Capt. John G. Cloyd ordered his dozens of crew members to abandon ship and sailed the tanker toward Lands End with the help of the few remaining officers. His men safe ashore, Cloyd attempted to beach the Lyman Stewart but ran aground in the rocky coastline.

The tanker Lyman Stewart stranded at Lands Ends after a collision in fog with the USS Walter A. Luckenbach on Oct. 10, 1922.

SF Maritime National Historical

Some of the ship was salvaged for parts, but much of it was unreachable in the swirling surf and jagged rocks. Today, ye may still see pieces of the Lyman Stewart off Lands End at low tide.

Curious to learn more about what San Francisco was like 100 years ago? Scroll down to see our favorite archival photos of the city in 1922.

A 1922 view of Market near 4th, with the California Theatre, Humboldt Bank building and Call Building visible.

A 1922 view of Market near 4th, with the California Theatre, Humboldt Bank building and Call Building visible.

OpenSFHistory/wnp67.0753

Construction boomed in the Roaring Twenties. This view of Market and 4th Streets shows the California Theatre, the Humboldt Bank and the magnificent Call Building.

A car stops at a brand new stoplight in San Francisco's downtown.

A car stops at a brand new stoplight in San Francisco’s downtown.

CORBIS/Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

More cars meant more traffic — and more accidents. In an effort to regulate the new drivers rushing to the roads, San Francisco implemented its first traffic signal. This one was designed by San Francisco electrical department chief Ralph W. Wiley, and a gong sounded when the signal changed.

A man tests out a new invention from the San Francisco Fire Department: a call box.

A man tests out a new invention from the San Francisco Fire Department: a call box.

Bettmann/Bettmann Archives

Another new invention for a bustling city? The call box. If you needed help, you could run to one of these boxes, pull the lever and the machine would send a Morse code message to the nearest fire station.

“It wasn’t uncommon that when a medical emergency or crime would happen — not just a fire — the closest thing people could get to was one of these,” the San Francisco Fire Department Museum’s David Ebarle told us earlier this year. “This was in the days before cellphones, of course, but they knew help would come.”

If you want to learn more about these nifty machines, many of which still dot San Francisco’s streets, read our story.

A view of 660 Market circa 1922.

A view of 660 Market circa 1922.

OpenSFHistory/wnp27.4560

Market Street was changing rapidly in the 1920s. This spot is 660 Market. Today, that stretch houses a few restaurants and the Ritz-Carlton Club. Big changes have come to the view at Clay and Grant (below), too. If you stand at that spot now, you’ll be looking straight down toward the Transamerica Pyramid.

The view of Clay near Grant with Portsmouth Square visible to the left.

The view of Clay near Grant with Portsmouth Square visible to the left.

OpenSFHistory/wnp67.0556

The elaborate exterior of the Granada Theatre.

The elaborate exterior of the Granada Theatre.

Print Collector/Getty Images

If you wanted to catch a movie, there was no more glamorous spot in San Francisco than the Granada Theater at 1066 Market. The theater opened to great fanfare in 1921 and featured a $100,000 Wurlitzer and thousands of seats. The marquee in the photo above reads: “Open to-day one of the finest motion picture theaters in the world. A new standard in presentation of photoplays and music.”

And here’s a look at the spectacular interior. The Granada closed in 1965 and, sadly, was demolished shortly after.

The stunning interior of the Granada Theatre.

The stunning interior of the Granada Theatre.

Print Collector/Getty Images

The worker at San Francisco's elegant The Emporium department store cleans the famed rotunda windows.

The worker at San Francisco’s elegant The Emporium department store cleans the famed rotunda windows.

Bettmann/Bettmann Archives

If you wanted to do a spot of shopping after your movie, you undoubtedly made a stop at The Emporium, San Francisco’s elegant department store. Here, a worker freshens up the paint job on the store’s iconic rotunda. In order to accomplish the nail-biting task, a steel cable was suspended from the middle of the dome. From that, four ropes were attached, complete with center seat, to create a sort of scaffold for the unlucky worker. On his perch, the worker could then paint and clean the interior dome.

The Emporium rotunda can now be seen inside the Westfield shopping center on Market Street.

A San Francisco family gathers in their parlor to listen to a concert on their Victrola.

A San Francisco family gathers in their parlor to listen to a concert on their Victrola.

Bettmann/Bettmann Archives

As more affordable home radios hit the market in the 1920s, Victrolas became all the rage for affluent families. Above, a San Francisco family enjoys a concert from the comfort of their own parlor. A 1922 Victrola ad in the San Francisco Examiner listed the cheapest model at $25 (a little under $400 adjusted for inflation). If you wanted your Victrola in a large mahogany stand, it cost up to $410 (nearly $6,500 today).

Love local history? So there we go! Visit our San Francisco history page for more quirky tales, infamous crimes and forgotten moments.

A cityscape of San Francisco's business district taken from California Street on April 28, 1922.

A cityscape of San Francisco’s business district taken from California Street on April 28, 1922.

Library of Congress

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the rotunda as the City of Paris department store. The photo is of The Emporium.

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