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How San Francisco Has Changed Since Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ (Photos)

| February 22, 2013
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The view from the roof of 1302 Taylor St., which features in the opening sequence of "Vertigo." At top, how it appears in the movie; bottom, the view today. (Courtesy Reel SF)

The view from the roof of 1302 Taylor St., which features in the opening sequences of “Vertigo.” At top, how it appears in the movie; bottom, the view more recently. (Courtesy Reel SF)

Alfred Hitchcock (Wikipedia)

Alfred Hitchcock (Wikipedia)

“Lincoln,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and the other Academy Award nominees won’t be the only films being discussed in San Francisco this Oscars Sunday. At 11 a.m., a few hours before the Oscars begin, Jay Sherwin will be talking about “Vertigo” and “The Birds” when he helps lead his latest walking tour of Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco.

Here is how the tour is described on the San Francisco City Guides website:

The Master of Suspense loved San Francisco and used its beauty, elegance and mystery to great effect in several films. From Nob Hill to Union Square, you’ll see some of the hotels, clubs, retail stores and other locations featured in Vertigo and other Hitchcock classics.

Sherwin said during the tour he talks about what the Hitchcock movies illustrate about the city. You can hear him describe the tour in this story that aired Tuesday on The California Report.

Those who take part in the tour also will most likely realize how the city has changed since Hitchcock filmed his movies. It also can be seen on Reel SF, a website that collects and shares photos that show how the locations of movies set in the city appeared during filming and today. Many of the films feature a bustling mid-20th century City by the Bay; today’s San Francisco is in some parts bigger and sleeker. In other sections, it appears more run-down or in transition.

Here are some of the Reel SF photos showing the filming locations from “Vertigo,” a Hitchcock classic that was filmed in San Francisco and released in 1958. The captions on the photos include descriptions quoted from Reel SF.

The Rooftop

"In the dramatic nighttime opening sequence detective John 'Scottie' Ferguson (James Stewart) trails a policeman chasing a suspect across a series of rooftops.  Scottie slips and ends up hanging perilously from a gutter causing him to suffer a severe case of acrophobia - a feeling of vertigo.  The chase spanned almost a whole block from Washington Street towards Jackson Street on the rootops of 1302 to 1360 Taylor Street" (Courtesy Reel SF)

“In the dramatic nighttime opening sequence detective John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson (James Stewart) trails a policeman chasing a suspect across a series of rooftops. Scottie slips and ends up hanging perilously from a gutter causing him to suffer a severe case of acrophobia – a feeling of vertigo. The chase spanned almost a whole block from Washington Street towards Jackson Street on the rootops of 1302 to 1360 Taylor Street” (Courtesy Reel SF)

"The background building is the Brocklebank Apartments, featured later in the movie, and behind it the Fairmont Hotel Tower, not there when Vertigo was filmed." (Courtesy Reel SF)

“The background building is the Brocklebank Apartments, featured later in the movie, and behind it the Fairmont Hotel Tower, not there when Vertigo was filmed.” (Courtesy Reel SF)

Scottie’s Apartment

The exterior scenes (for Scottie's home) were filmed at 900 Lombard Street on the corner of Jones ...  From inside the house, Hitchcock chose a window view of Coit Tower." (Courtesy Reel SF)

The exterior scenes (for Scottie’s home) were filmed at 900 Lombard Street on the corner of Jones … From inside the house, Hitchcock chose a window view of Coit Tower.” (Courtesy Reel SF)

" ... from outside 900 Lombard we see the same view today plus an unsightly apartment building blocking the distant twin spires of Sts. Peter and Paul church on Washington Square." (Courtesy Reel SF)

” … from outside 900 Lombard we see the same view today plus an unsightly apartment building blocking the distant twin spires of Sts. Peter and Paul church on Washington Square.” (Courtesy Reel SF)

St. Paulus

Scottie in front of St. Paulus' German Evangelican Lutheran Church. (Courtesy Reel SF)

Scottie in front of St. Paulus’ German Evangelican Lutheran Church. (Courtesy Reel SF)

The church burned down in 1995, and remains a vacant lot. (Courtesy Reel SF)

The church burned down in 1995, and remains a vacant lot. (Courtesy Reel SF)

Midge’s Apartment

"Scotty visits his old flame Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes).  The vista from her apartment window looks west to Russian Hill from the top of Union Street on Telegraph Hill.  The building on the skyline to the left of Midge's shoulder is the La Mirada apartment building at 1100 Union Street.  This scene was filmed in a studio using a photograph to virtually set the location." (Courtesy Reel SF)

“Scotty visits his old flame Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes). The vista from her apartment window looks west to Russian Hill from the top of Union Street on Telegraph Hill. The building on the skyline to the left of Midge’s shoulder is the La Mirada apartment building at 1100 Union Street. This scene was filmed in a studio using a photograph to virtually set the location.” (Courtesy Reel SF)

"The same view today from near the same spot.  The twin spires to the right belong to Sts Peter and Paul church on Filbert Street at Washington Square." (Courtesy Reel SF)

“The same view today from near the same spot. The twin spires to the right belong to Sts Peter and Paul church on Filbert Street at Washington Square.” (Courtesy Reel SF)

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Category: Arts and Entertainment, San Francisco

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  • http://twitter.com/CO2Insanity CO2 Insanity

    Let us not forget all the drug dealers, homeless people and poop all over the place.

  • ek

    The spot where St. Paulus used to be is now a beautiful free garden

  • danemodsandy

    Don’t forget that the owners of Scottie’s apartment building just put up an ugly, nasty wall to keep all the rest of us from visually enjoying a bit of SF and Hollywood history. Very, VERY selfish!

  • @AndrewChamings

    Fascinating. I actually just researched these locations while writing an article on movies shot in the Lower Haight, which includes Vertigo… http://haighteration.com/2013/02/the-lower-haight-in-film.html

  • Jenni

    Mr. Hill, please do your research before going live online. It’s a really short little piece, after all. On a stroll down Eddy Street at Gough, you will notice that the site of St. Paulus Church is not “a vacant lot”. There has been a very green and active urban farm there, called The Free Farm, for more than three years. St. Paulus leases it to these folks. Three years. Check it out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046973189 Mike Tiano

    For a pretty complete look at “Vertigo” then and now visit the Wayback Machine, a site that archives sites both still present and those long forgotten, including a late (and great) fan site about the movie. While the “now” photos at this link are as of a few years ago it still provides what is probably a pretty accurate look at the locations today, with the possible exception of Scottie’s apartment, where recently the owners put up a wall for privacy reasons. http://web.archive.org/web/20040203202738/http://www.basichip.com/vertigo/main.htm

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    mother was like trully erning money parttime at their computer.. there sisters
    roommate has done this 4 only about 19 months and resently repaid the dept on
    their cottage and purchased Land Rover Range Rover. we looked here, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT