Similar to today’s San Francisco, exactly 100 years ago, the city didn’t have much fun on New Year’s Day either.
In contrast to the 2021 pandemic holiday, the cause of their unfavorable entry into the New Year was a catastrophe in the city center. Market Street was “full of fun,” the San Francisco Examiner reported, when the air was ripped by “a crash near midnight.” Hundreds of people fell out of sight and disappeared into a hole 20 feet deep in the ground.
The culprit was a collapsed temporary sidewalk in Market and Taylor that was being built outside of the Warfield Theater, which was under construction. An estimated 500 people were on the temporary sidewalk when it gave way, sending at least 100 people “down a drop”. Seventy people were seriously injured, which seriously affected the city’s celebrations.
In 1921, San Francisco was a city just trying to break away from its chaotic past. The streets of the Barbary Coast vigilantes and trucks were cleared after the 1906 earthquake left hundreds of bars and brothels around Pacific Ave. .
In the downtown area, new skyscrapers have been built into the misty skies to rival major American cities on the east coast.
Prohibition didn’t stop the roaring 20s, and speakeasies and bootleggers took advantage of the city’s coastline. And the parties continued unabated, including one at the St. Francis Hotel that was tossed by Fatty Arbuckle and resulted in the death of a starlet and scandalized Hollywood.
Here’s a look at life in San Francisco 100 years ago.