Guest Post by the team at JCDecaux and Community Arts Inc.
San Francisco is one of the most beloved cities in the U.S. Why? For starters we have natural beauty, monuments, culture, welcoming people, great food and exciting nightlife. Union Square offers many of these attractions in one place, and for the past year it has been home to our Kiosk Museums. These sprung from our vision to activate the JC Decaux kiosks with fun and interesting mini exhibits about art and culture.
Our spring exhibitions feature some unique historical items from the city’s restaurants and night life during the mid-20th century. By visiting, you can learn the popular dishes invented here and how residents and visitors amused themselves. The Kiosk Musems are located at Grant Avenue & Maiden Lane and Stockton & Post Streets.
A half century ago, a multi-course meal at Tadich Grill or the Cliff House (both still in operation) could be enjoyed for only a few dollars. Union Square was home to many popular favorites of the 40’s and 50’s that are now gone, like Charlie's Fashion, Omar Khayyam's and the Clinton Cafeteria.
During this time, San Francisco was renowned for its nightlife. Dressing up for dinner and dancing was part of the fun. For $1.50, fashionable couples could have their pictures taken by women sporting 8 pound cameras and receive souvenir photographs mounted in fancy portfolios.
Today, you can still get a taste of the past at restaurants and clubs like John’s Grill, Sears Fine Food, the Starlight Room, Top of the Mark and the Tonga Room. But in the age of selfies, there’s no longer a need for camera girls to memorialize the occasion. Restaurants and clubs like Sinaloa, the Old Poodle Dog, Ernie's (of Vertigo fame ) and the Blue Fox are now gone, but you can still share those memories at the Kiosk Museums.
Ephemera courtesy of the James and Mary-Lou McDonald Collection. The Kiosk Museum is a project of Community Arts Inc., JCDecaux, and the Union Square Business Improvement District.