Now: Similar to Geary Boulevard, Van Ness Avenue is a traffic thoroughfare where larger stores, car dealerships, and chain restaurants find a home. Some highlights of the street include the Opera Plaza center and theatres, and a few unique restaurants. The Cathedral Hill area is named for the cross-shaped St. Mary's Cathedral and Geary and Gough.
Then: The homes that originally existed on Van Ness Avenue were sacrificed to create a line to hold back the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake, and protect the residences to the west.
How To Get There: Van Ness Avenue probably isn't a street that you would want to stroll the length of on foot - there isn't enough going on for that to be fun. Some of the various spots (like Opera Plaza) can be reached by jogging over from Polk Street, or parking on one of the streets separating Franklin and Van Ness.
Van Ness Avenue near Post Street
The Opera Plaza Center, on Van Ness Avenue at Golden Gate Avenue
Books Inc., in the Opera Plaza Center
City Hall in the evening, facing Van Ness Avenue
Mel's Drive-In, on Van Ness at Geary Boulevard
The AMC Theatres, on Van Ness Avenue at O'Farrell Street
Fast food restaurants on Van Ness
Tommy's Joynt, on Geary Boulevard at Van Ness Avenue
End of the California Street Cable Car line at Van Ness Avenue
Inside the 2-Clement bus on Sutter Street, crossing Van Ness Avenue
Matterhorn Swiss Restaurant and Bar, on Van Ness Avenue at Green Street
Helmand Palace Afghan Cuisine, on Van Ness Avenue between Union and Green Streets
The 49 bus on Van Ness Avenue
Looking east toward St. Mary's Cathedral, from Laguna Street
North edge of Jefferson Square Park, at Eddy Street between Laguna and Gough Streets
Jefferson Square Park
Jefferson Square Park, facing east
Looking south toward Hayward Playground from Jefferson Square Park