Hints of History

You can still see the existing interior of the City of Paris department store, especially at dusk when the pillars that support the dome are illuminated. Glass and steel are fine, but the building that now houses Neiman Marcus is no match to the old classic department store that once stood on the corner of Geary and Stockton streets.

The old department stores of San Francisco-City of Paris, Emporium, the White House, I Magnin, Wilkes Bashford, and others who have been lost to history and development, were places of glamour and made shopping a thrill. My grandmother and I shopped in downtown Oakland when I was a child, and many of the same stores were there, on Broadway. 

Coming into the City with grandma or dad to shop was always an exciting trip. Now, shopping at Ross or the Rack or Marshalls is nice, but I can’t help but remember what once was. Union Square was a magnificent urban space, where ladies who lunch mixed with the sightseers, shoppers and the downtown regulars.

A worker repairs the vintage neon sign that hangs outside of Britex Fabrics, on Union Square.

I am lucky to work at a local business that’s been on Union Square since the 1950s, and they have only occasionally made efforts towards modernization. We are still in our original, four story building with an elegant elevator, and a truly international staff that serves the public in an old fashioned way. I hope we can stay the same in years to come.

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