Before the San Francisco Centre : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Does anyone know what was housed in what is now known as the San Francisco Centre (5th & Market) before it became a shopping mall? Thanks for your help.

-- WT Haidhman (, December 06, 2001


The San Francisco Centre was built as a shopping mall and has always been used as that. It replace some older retail/office structures on the same site.

-- Glenn Koch (, December 06, 2001.

I'm not so sure about that. You have to remember that the entire section south of the old Emporium was torn down. If there were some stores there, I don't recall them but if there were any stores there then they were women's things because I used to go in every shop there was around that area and I never recall going in any at that North corner area. Before it was torn down that section running down fifth street toward Mission from Market had at least the upper floors abandoned for what seemed forever. There was an old entrance way on the Fifth street side that hadn't been used forever and when you looked through the glass door it said something like Lincoln school or something like that. I actually think that the name of that building was something like the Lincoln building. I'm sure there are some old photos somewhere around. I took some really great photos when they dug down about 40 feet in that whole North Corner from some very unusual angles from some other buildings nearby. -- I know this much that back in the old days in 1855, the first college of San Francisco sprung up on that site of where the old Emporium and current shopping center are. (Sorry, I don't even know what is currently in the old Emporium. I haven't even been in there yet.) Anyway, that whole area shopping center and Emporium in the old days of 1855 was St. Ignatious College and later on they moved several times and then changed the name to the University of San Francisco. Some huge long sand dunes, a church, a school, a brick building with some dorm rooms was all that was there.

-- Harry Murphy (, December 06, 2001.

I remember a smaller department store next door to the Emporium called (I think) Weinstein's. Not quite as upscale as the Big E and they had a real bargain basement. Speaking of older department stores, does any one remember O'Connor, Moffat, and Co. on Union Square? It was THE place to buy Catholic school uniforms.

-- Don Martinich (, December 07, 2001.

As the plaque on the S f Centre suggests, the building replaces the old "Lincoln Realty" building. The building housed a a variety of retail outlets including Joe Jung's restaurant and Woolworth's. (check the "Lincoln building" in the online Photo section of the SF Library. The land for the building was leased from the S F Unified School District. It was named for the Lincoln School that formerly occupied the site.

-- Kurt Iversen (, December 07, 2001.

Here is the link to the Library's Lincoln Building server=photos&item=3

-- Kurt Iversen (, December 07, 2001.

It doesn't look to me as though there has been any change in the appearance of the building housing the San Francisco Center at 5th and Market since the 1920s at least.

For many years, Hales Department Store occupied the north east corner of 5th and Market but in 1951, or thereabouts, Hales moved to the building in question. Its former location was then occupied by Pennys.

From photographs, it appears that at the same time Hales Department Store was there, the lower floors of the building were occupied by such retail stores as Woolworth, Leeds, Zukor, Burts and Moss, among others.

I don't know in what year Hales or any of the other stores vacated the building, but I feel sure it must have been after 1972. I'd be interested in knowing what year the building was reportedly torn down because if it actually was, I think they must have left the front of the building intact. Bernard C.Winn

-- Bernard C. Winn (, December 15, 2001.

Before the San Francisco Shopping Centre was there, it was the original site of USF. In 1855 the University of San Francisco was founded there.

-- Jacqueline White (, January 24, 2002.

Where Norstrom's, or SF Center is now there was a huge Manning's Cafeteria (in addition to other small businesses). The main entrance to the cafeteria was on Market St.. There was another entrance on Fifth St.. The cafeteria "surrounded" a jewelry at the corner of Market and Fifth. I worked at Manning's Cafeteria for several years in the sixties, while attenting school.

-- Jose Segovia (, November 03, 2002.

I remember working at the Emporium in the 80's and going to lunch next door to Joe Jung's ENORMOUS cafeteria on the ground floor, next to Leed's shoes. Seemingly acres and acres of tables and chairs, never full. By this time it was huge and run down, but one could have large quantites of chinese food from the buffet for about 2 bucks. Yesterday was the ground breaking for the new Bloomies - goodbye big E! file=/chronicle/archive/2003/11/14/MNGPP322071.DTL

-- Dave Baker (, November 14, 2003.

I just wanted to add that my grandmother Margurite Adele Groesbeck from Michigan(1890-1973) (her brother was Michigan's Governor Alex J. Groesbeck in the 1920's)she is my (mother's mother) Did open the first beauty salon in the Emporium Dept. Store there in San Francisco on Market St. She was also named the best dressed woman one year pre aunt has a photo of my grandmother who was dressed for that occasion. Also, my grandmother's sister Helen Swan, her husband and her owned and operated the old Swan's Public Market in mother was named after Helen Swan my mother's aunt one day Helen Swan was walking from parked car to the front door of store she died of a heart attack before she entered the store. My grandmother married my grandfather who was born in San Francisco (Franklin Joseph Kinsey 1895-1969) San Francisco area I am also related to any and all Kergan's who come from the family of (Sir John De Pew Kergan).

-- christopher novak (, February 02, 2004.

OK, this brought back a few memories especially that of Manning's cafeteria which was huge but whose food was way below average. They had absolutely horrible speghetti so I didn't go there too much. I really can't understand why the quality of their food was so bad.

I had totally forgotton about Manning's cafeteria because it went out of business around the early 70s and so it's location just faded from my memory. My lasting memory about Mannings was that in the late 60s I met an old friend there and weeks later found out he died the day after so I was like one of the last people to see him alive. I wonder if the food had anything to do with it.

Mention was also made of Joe Jung's restaurant. I now think that Joe Jung took over the premises after Manning left. I also think he went out of business somewhere around the mid 80s.

-- Harry Murphy (harrymurphy*, February 02, 2004.

This should help refresh people's memories:

The other thing you have GOT to see is the photo of Manning's on Market that the SFPL has in its historical photo collection. I love the light pouring out into the night:,14,28 ,E/2exact&FF=drestaurants+mannings&1,2,

By the way, the site for the photo collection seems to have been updated. Good way to fill up an afternoon exploring!

-- Rosa (, February 03, 2004.

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