‘Hidden gems’ capture Mission of yesteryear

Christina Moretta has a really cool job.

She’s the photo curator for San Francisco’s public library system, and has the absolute honor of sifting through old-time photographs and negatives that are donated by city agencies like SFPD and the Department of Public Works.

Moretta says she’s found some really special images of the Mission District’s formative years, and wants to share what she calls the “hidden gems” of the library’s collection with a new exhibit depicting a “grittier, more industrial” Mission.

Showing everything from traffic accidents, to the Bi-Rite storefront in 1947 (complete with an uncannily similar lack of available parking), the collection serves as a precious resource for anyone wondering what the “Mish” was like way back when.

Interesting as they may be, and because of various judgement calls, not all of the images Moretta found are going to be on public display. One of those is of a woman who had been hit by a train that once ran through the neighborhood:

“It was too gory. I decided not to share it.”

The photos date back to the earlier parts of the 20th century and are mainly focused on locations that captivatingly reveal the ever-changing nature of the neighborhood and The City.

Moretta’s finds will be on display, along with other photographs, at Open Show’s Mission Photo Party tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.