GATTACA, futuristic sci-fi thriller released in 1997 starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law. Several scenes were shot on location at the Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael, Calfornia. Below are some "then and now" location shots.
Entrance to Sutro Heights park at Land's End, San Francisco, Ca.
The lion statues date to 1885 when Adolph Sutro opened his estate garden, a promontory overlooking the Cliff House and Seal Rocks, to the public. The lions flanked the ornate entry gate. Palm trees are a remnant of the once elaborate gardens.
The Sun Valley neighborhood of San Rafael, Ca. was the location of the California Motion Picture Company (CMPC), a pioneer of feature-length films specializing in films about the early history of California. The studio complex was built in 1912 by George E. Middleton, a prominent San Francisco automobile dealer for the purpose of shooting promotional footage of the automobiles he was selling. He determined that his pretty wife, actress/singer Beatriz Michelena could star in movies made by his company and Middleton starred Michelena in 11 features for the San Rafael studio between 1914 and 1917. Michelena was talented but her demands for star treatment brought heavy expense to productions that continued to lose money and in 1916 CMPC filed for bankruptcy. Middleton and Michelena bought out the company in 1917 and renamed it Michelena Studios, finally closing for good around 1920 due to lack of profits and the rise of Hollywood. Today, almost 100 years later, the studio site where there once were cowboys and stagecoaches is now a quiet residential neighborhood with houses and trees.
Photographer Arnold Genthe's famous photo "Street of Gamblers", Ross Alley, Chinatown, San Francisco, Ca. (c.1900) on the left and the same location in 2012 on the right. Chinatown was completely devastated by the great earthquake and fire of 1906.
Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, Ca. This building at 800 Van Ness Ave. was a showroom for the short-lived Mark Motor Co. in 1921. They were distributors for Elgin and Dupont automobiles. Beautiful ghost sign on the back of the building with art deco flourishes and Egyptian pyramid motiff, which was popular at that time. The top of the sign says "Elgin Six" (within 3 pyramids), the latest model six-cylinder Elgin automobile. At the bottom are the company's locations: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Fresno, Boise, Spokane. The vertical ghost on the left that overlaps it is for the Pioneer Motor Bearing Co. which occupied the building beginning in 1923. Pioneer manufactured motor bearings, shims, bolts and nuts.
San Francisco, Ca. Van Ness Ave. auto row, at Bush St.,1926, Chevrolet dealership on corner......and now an office building and coffee shop, 2012.
Ansel Adams (1902-1984) American photographer. Adams was born in San Francisco in 1902. In 1903, his family moved to a new home near the Seacliff neighborhood. The home sat on a bluff surrounded by sand dunes and had a view of the Golden Gate and the Marin Headlands. (From wikipedia:) Uninjured in the initial shaking of the 1906 earthquake, the four-year-old Ansel Adams was tossed face-first into a garden wall during an aftershock three hours later, breaking his nose. The house still stands today in it's original location although it has been extensively remodeled. Adams built another house adjacent to it that he lived in until 1962 when he moved to Carmel, Ca.
The elaborate Cliff House and Seal Rocks, San Francisco, Ca., c.1900. Built in 1896 by Adolf Sutro, the Cliff House was a seven story Victorian Chateau (called by some "the Gingerbread Palace") below his estate on the bluffs of Sutro Heights overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The Cliff House survived the 1906 earthquake with little damage but burned to the ground in 1907. The Cliff House Restaurant has gone through many incarnations and modern remodels. It has presently been restored to it's 1909 version.
San Francisco's Italian North Beach district was the location of several early Italian immigrant photography studios in the early 1900's. The JB Monaco, Vitalini Fotografia and Pisa Foto (founded by Gino and Carlo Sbrana) studios were all located near the intersection of Columbus and Broadway. The buildings still exist today and in the case of the Monaco and Pisa studios the original skylights still exist. In the early days of still photography portrait studios (like artist studios) were located on the top floor of buildings in order to take advantage of the natural skylight. Example
© Joseph Greco