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Streetwise: Costumed Western Neighborhoods

by Frank Dunnigan
October 2023

Frank Dunnigan, WNP member and columnist. -
Residents of the western neighborhoods have a long history of dressing in costume for various occasions, including Halloween, civic celebrations, movie premieres, and sporting events. Let’s take a look through the photo archives at some classic examples throughout the past century.

Golden Gate Park, circa 1928 - photo by Christopher Helin; Courtesy of a Private Collector.
1928 — Four women pose in clothing from different eras in front of a clearly-marked Studebaker automobile in Golden Gate Park, in what is likely a vehicle promotion shot.

Golden Gate Park, May 1, 1928 - Horace Chaffee, SF Department of Public Works; courtesy of a Private Collector.
1928 — May Day was a major celebration and school holiday for San Francisco in the first half of the 20th century. Here, John McLaren poses with little girl dressed as the May Queen for 1928’s festivities in Golden Gate Park. Read more about the history of May Day Queens in this article by Woody LaBounty.

Golden Gate Bridge, May 27, 1937 - Courtesy of a Private Collector.
1937 — The opening of the Golden Gate Bridge to pedestrians on May 27, 1937 was part of a week-long “Fiesta” to celebrate the bridge’s completion. Many attendees dressed in costumes reminiscent (by their interpretation) of earlier times.

34th Avenue near Lincoln Way, 1946 - Courtesy of a Private Collector.
1946 — This neighborhood crowd of trick-or-treaters lines up on a stairway near 34th Avenue and Lincoln Way on Halloween night in 1946.

39th Avenue and Noriega Street, circa 1955 - Courtesy of Stephen Hood.
1950s — Stephen Hood on 39th Avenue wears the cowboy attire popular in the 1950s.

Juan Crespi School, 1950s - Courtesy of Jeanne Warden.
1950s — Halloween parade in the school yard of Juan Crespi School at 24th Avenue and Quintara Street. Read Lorri Ungaretti’s 2005 article about the history of Juan Crespi School.

3rd Avenue and Clement Street, October 31, 1958 - Courtesy of a Private Collector.
1958 — Clement Street merchants welcomed a Halloween parade and clusters of spectators from Arguello Boulevard to Park Presidio Boulevard for many years, including these revelers in 1958.

Alexandria Theatre, June 1960 - Jack Tillmany Collection; courtesy of a Private Collector.
1960 — The Alexandria Theatre at 18th Avenue and Geary Boulevard followed the example of some downtown theatres of the era with costumed employees for certain screenings, such as this one in June 1960. The film, Can-Can (starring Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, and Juliet Prowse), played at the Alexandria for 19 weeks. Fred Levin, whose family owned the theater, stands third from right. See a series of photos showing the architectural detail of the Alexandria prior to its 2004 closure. Read this September 19, 2023 article about the future of the Alexandria in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Kezar Stadium, December 31, 1960 - photo by Walt Lynott, Examiner Negative Collection; courtesy of a Private Collector.
1960 — The annual East-West Shrine Game at Kezar Stadium on December 31, 1960 saw a capacity crowd watching a costumed parade of Shriners as part of the day’s entertainment.

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