Friday, May 17, 2013

Five of the Most Notorious Locations in San Francisco

By Paul Iorio

Patty Hearst, making a withdrawal from the Hibernia Bank in
the Inner Sunset, 1974. [photo by Hibernia security camera.]

1. The Bank Robbed by Patty Hearst. (1450 Noriega St.)

The site of the Hearst bank robbery as it looks today.
[photo by Paul Iorio.]

Everyone remembers the shocking security camera video of Patty Hearst

holding an assault rifle while robbing a bank with members of

the so-called Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974.

Where did it happen?

On the corner of 22nd Street and Noriega Avenue – 1450 Noriega, to be

exact -- in the Inner Sunset district of San Francisco.

At the time of the robbery, on April 15, 1974, that was the site of

a Hibernia Bank branch.

Today, the building is the home of North East Medical Services (NEMS),

but has ATMs for Bank of America on an outside wall (as well as

a colorful mural on the west wall).

Visitors to the 'hood also get to glimpse the deep urban suburbs

of San Francisco, which few tourists ever see.

For the record, Hearst, a granddaughter of mogul William

Randolph Hearst, was eventually convicted of bank robbery,

though her sentence was commuted by President Carter and

she was released in 1979.


2. Jim Jones’ People Temple. (1859 Geary Street.)
The building that was once the Peoples Temple is now
a post office. [photo by Paul Iorio.]

Before the infamous Peoples Temple was relocated to Guyana, it was

in San Francisco, right next door to Bill Graham’s Fillmore concert


In the 1970s, the building on Geary was the epicenter of the

lunacy of cult leader Jim Jones, a one-time legit power broker in

San Francisco who, at one point, actually ran a municipal

department under Mayor George Moscone.

But by 1978, transplanted to Guyana, Jones had become alarmingly

grandiose – not to mention homicidal and suicidal. On his orders,

on November 18th of that year, 920 of his followers committed

suicide by drinking poison. (And several who didn’t kill

themselves were murdered by security personnel.)

Hard to believe that such depravity had its roots in such

an ordinary-looking building in San Francisco. Today, the

former Temple is a post office.


3. Where O'Shaughnessy Offed Archer in “The Maltese Falcon.”  (Bush Street above the Stockton Tunnel.)

The most noir neighborhood in San Francisco?
[photo by Paul Iorio.]

In both the book and film versions of “The Maltese Falcon,” Sam

Spade’s business partner, Miles Archer, was murdered by Brigid

O'Shaughnessy on Bush Street over the Stockton Tunnel.

Using her feminine wiles, O'Shaughnessy (played by Mary Astor

on screen) lured Archer to the obscure corner of the city and

then killed him. “He would have looked you up and down and licked

his lips and gone, grinning from ear to ear,” says Spade (Humphrey

Bogart) to O'Shaughnessy (Astor) in the film.

Today, the corner still looks suitably noirish, what with its

location above a tunnel and its double-stairways – though

the area has been considerably urbanized in recent decades.


4. The Spot Where President Ford was Nearly Shot.
(The Westin St. Francis Hotel.)

President Ford was almost shot here.
[photo by Paul Iorio.]

Perhaps the least-mythologized presidential assassination or

attempted assassination in U.S. history happened in downtown

San Francisco, right off Union Square.

There are no major conspiracy theories around it – and that’s

something for San Francisco – and no ambiguous Zapruder-esque


This was just a meat-and-potatoes crazy taking a potshot at

President Gerald R. Ford, the 38th president, as he left the

St. Francis Hotel on September 22, 1975.

The would-be assassin, Sara Jane Moore, shot at Ford twice from

across the street, missing him by a mere six inches.

Moore, an admirer of the SLA, was convicted of attempted

assassination and served 32 years in prison before being

released in ’07.

The Westin St. Francis, one of the few buildings to have survived

the 1906 quake and fire, still stands on the western side of Union

Square, one of the busiest parts of San Francisco.


5. Kezar Stadium, Golden Gate Park.

Where Dirty Harry tortured a perp!
[photo by Paul Iorio.]

Until Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” the most famous on

screen torture of a perp by a cop or government agent was arguably

in the Clint Eastwood movie “Dirty Harry.”

And that scene – in which Dirty Harry shoots a psycho on the field

and then proceeds to step on his arm in order to find out where he

had hidden a kidnapped girl – took place inside Kezar Stadium.

“Go on out and get some air, fatso,” Harry orders his police

colleague as the physical abuse begins.

Today, the killer from the flick is long gone, but Kezar remains

largely unchanged: an open-air stadium on the southwestern

corner of Golden Gate Park that hosts sports and other events.