With Lisa in Chamonix, France.
The illustrations in
Hunters Point were done by Lisa Wannemacher. Lisa is an award-winning architect and not so coincidentally, my wife. She is one of those old-school architects who loves to draw and render by hand. So the opportunity to include illustrations that help to better understand the story was a natural fit.
Perspective of Hunters Point Naval Yard during its heyday as the west coast epicenter of naval operations. Today it is an industrial wasteland, though the iconic crane remains as the lasting remnant of that era.
Fort Point beneath the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most beautiful views in San Francisco. This scene is directly from the movie Vertigo. Watch the film and you will see Kim Novak tossing flowers into the bay.
Vesuvio in North Beach is a long-standing bar and was a meeting place to many of the artists of the era. It is directly across the alley (now called Jack Kerouac Alley) from City Lights Bookstore. Lisa and I enjoyed a drink there in the spring of 2022 and you can easily image Kerouac, Ginsberg and Neal Cassady chatting at the bar.
The 32 story Russ Building was completed in 1927. Designed by architect George W. Kelham, it was the tallest building San Francisco until 1964. The building has been described as the epitome of Jazz Age elegance and is designated a California Historic Landmark. So having an office in this prestigious building would of course be a goal for any business. Until they moved to the Sand Hill Road area in the 1980’s, many prominent venture capital firms had their offices in the Russ Building.
The Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) really was a seven story windowless building in the heart of Hunters Point. It is one of the few remaining buildings that still looks functional on the defunct base. Perhaps the many shady and questionable practices that went on there have forever preserved it as a reminder of unchecked science and secrecy. San Francisco Weekly published a lengthy and frightening report on the various abuses the NRDL perpetrated on city and the environment over the years.
1664 Post Street – Takemoto Family Home Post Street is in the heart of Japantown today and back in the 1950’s it would have been a multicultural neighborhood with Asian, Hispanic and African-American families. The house is fictional though the address is real.
City Lights Bookstore The iconic bookstore was founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin in 1953 in the North Beach neighborhood. The store was one of the first to specialize in paperback books. Shortly after opening, they hired Shig Murao, who worked for free for several weeks, eventually becoming the manager of the store. In 1958, City Lights occupied the lower floor and only the left side of the building. Today they own and occupy the entire building.
Ann’s 440 – formerly known as Mona’s 440. Mona’s 440 opened at 440 Broadway in 1936 and is believed to be the first lesbian bar on the west coast. Known for its bohemian and diverse clientele, the club was owned by a married couple, Mona and Jimmie Sargeant. In the mid 50’s they sold the club to performer Ann Dee who changed the name to Ann’s 440 and brought an emphasis on live entertainment while still catering to a diverse audience. Johnny Mathis got his start at Ann’s 440.
Pier 23. Today Pier 23 is home to a well-known restaurant. I have fictionalized the history of the pier to be similar to those many working piers that stretch up and down the waterfront in San Francisco. The structures that remain today are immense and harken back to a time when the waterfront was alive with maritime commerce and business instead of tourists.
The Stage Door Theatre -420 Mason Street, between Geary & Post. The Stage Door Theatre was built in 1912 as an auditorium. It became a movie house in 1946 and on May 9, 1958, Vertigo premiered there. It is now an event venue called August Hall.