Re: The Emporium on Market Street

04/24/07 - posted by jb

What I remeber most was their toy department, perhaps the best downtown. Christmas time was a special treat because I'd hit the City of Paris to look at the tree and go to the Emporium to touch and play. I had a short attention span and ourfamily ahd hit some hard times in the early 60's, so being able to play within the confines of, what I recall, was a double L shaped department of toys was a real pleasure,second only to Ambercrombie & Fitch on Post Street, where they would let me shoot pool for hours in the lobby and play with the hunting riffles on the mezzanine. The White House also had a decent toy department but that old Emporium was the best.

Ironically, it was at their Stonestown store where I discovered there was really not a Santa...I mean, how could he be at Macy's and The Emporium at the same time? Seems they had rides on the roof there, too.

But what always amazed me about the the 5th & Market Emporium was the bridge that ran across Jesse Street in the alley. I always imagined how cool that was to connect two buildings and yet, how precarious that might be in an earthquake. Is that bridge still there? I rarely get south of Market with the BART now dropping me off on Powell or Montgomery. In the old days, it was the Number 4 Mission Street bus.

I do miss the carnival atmosphere that proliferated around the Emporium, as if its formidable structure provided just enough respectability to rise above the "going out of business" schlock stores that surrounded it. I will say that the Leed's shoe store, with its nylon-clad legs displayed in every windows, did much to leave a lasting impression.

Yes, the Emporium and 5th & Market had a profound influence on my early development or lack there of...My Dad owned the bar on the corner of 5th & Mission, Jack's Carousel Room, in the early 60's. I was paradise until it tuned into nightmare alley. Fontunately, salvation could be had from the prophets, forever communicating with a higher power, across the street at Woolworths. It was there, where I discovered the meaning of life in a Neoplitan ice cream sandwich.

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