Cliff House Project
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Prof. W. E. James, Photographer
Images courtesy of the Randolph James Collection
Visit for more information
Contact: Randolph I. James

William E. James, 1865

View from Cliff House of Ocean Beach, wagons in foreground


[John Hall comment on 1.5, 2, and 3 – I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think these three photos are of the Central Pacific ferry slips at the Broadway Wharf taken prior to July 1875 when the ferry terminal was moved to the foot of Market Street. W. E. James began working in California for Thomas Houseworth & Co. in 1875. Note the three stereoviews are not marked. All three photos may have been taken from the same place by just rotating the camera. #3 was probably taken first, looking north. Note the Apple sellers with full boxes sitting at the gates in the foreground. #1.5 was taken next by rotating the camera 90 degrees to the east. And #2 was taken last with the first ferryboat already in the slip on the right.]

Ferryboat approaching San Francisco, likely the Broadway Wharf in early 1875.  - John Hall  2/7/2015

The Central Pacific Railroad Ferryboat El Capitan approaching San Francisco, likely the Broadway Wharf in early 1875.  - John Hall  2/7/2015

This is likely the Broadway Wharf in early 1875. The Broadway Wharf was the Central Pacific ferry and steam ship terminal prior to the ferries being moved to the foot of Market Street in July 1877. Based on the photo, the Broadway Wharf also provided ferry service to “Saucelito” and the North Pacific Coast Railroad which began operations in January 1875.  - John Hall  2/7/2015


The San Francisco Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street. The building on the left with the clock tower is the Central Pacific/Southern Pacific Railroad ferry to Oakland. The building on the right, with the “Narrow Gauge” sign is the South Pacific Coast Railroad ferry to Alameda. After May 1881 both railroads provided service to both Alameda and Oakland. The CP/SP building was constructed in July 1875 and the SPC building was constructed in August 1877. The SPC Oakland branch was opened June 1881. The SPC building has a sign for both Alameda and Oakland ferries. The two sheds were connected together in October 1882. The photographer began working for Taber in 1881. Therefore the photograph was taken sometime between May 1881 and October 1882.  - John Hall  2/7/2015





"WASHINGTON, First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of his Countrymen"
(Close-up of banner overhanging parade route)






One of the rooms in Houseworth & Co. studio located at 12 Montgomery Street. James is on the left and Houseworth on the right.  - Randolph James  2/7/2015


The Central Pacific Railroad Ferryboat Alameda. The ferry originally provided service between San Francisco and Alameda until the Central Pacific constructed an Alameda branch from the Oakland Ferry terminal in September 1873. The ferry Alameda then was used in the San Francisco to Oakland service. After many years of service and retirement, the Alameda, stripped of all valuable equipment, was sunk and filled with rubble in August 1899 to shore up sinking railroad tracks in the mudflats near what is now the North Field of the Oakland Airport.  - John Hall  2/7/2015



Prof. W. E. James