Amos - the unorthodox SF historian

While partaking in the July 1 Sunday Streets on Valencia Street today, we stopped by Amos Goldbaum t-shirt stand selling. We've appreciated his art and t-shirt designs for years - so much we have one of his Muni Boeing Light Rail Vehicle t-shirts.
"San Francisco Muni Streetcar" by Amos Goldbaum
We noted a new t-shirt design showing the Dolores Park skyline view over San Francisco. The image includes the playground – not the new snazzy 2012 playground, but the former playground with its large boat and classing metal jungle gym with monkey bars. It suddenly dawned on us that Amos was essentially chronicling disappearing elements of San Francisco.

He has three t-shirt designs that show a piece of San Francisco that is no more:
  • Muni Metro's Boeing Light Rail Vehicles 
    • used from 1970s to early 2000s (retired ~2001)
  • Embarcadero Freeway with Ferry Building
    • Freeway opened with Broadway terminus in 1959 
    • The Washington and Clay street ramps pictured in Amos' design were added later in the 1960s. 
  • Dolores Park view of San Francisco with Playground
    • The pre-2012 playground is clearly shown with its signature wooden boat.
Goldbaum notes that in fact all three images "were made after the fact. The first one I made was the Boeing streetcar. I grew up riding these and wanted to pay homage to them." We recall riding them as well. Although they were never considered modern or advanced light rail vehicles, they did have interesting charms and idiosyncrasies.

He was inspired to make the Embarcadero Freeway/Ferry Building image after selling his art at the Ferry Building. Finally, when the old wooden boat at the Dolores Park Playground was torn out, "I decided to draw it." The new Hellen Diller Playground has received all the attention and hubbub, but some precious memories and playground equipment was lost in the process. Golbaum, who grew up in Bernal Heights, notes, "The boat was awesome! I'm glad they put in some boat accents in the new playground." To make the image with its view over the playground, park and the city skyline, he had to piece several pictures together.
Muni Metro Boeing vehicle at West Portal Staton. Photo: Mod As Hell (flickr)

"Ferry Building and Embarcadero Freeway" by Amos Goldbaum
More images after the break.

Washington & Clay street ramps: 1965. Charles Cushman Collection via FoundSF
View of San Francisco skyline from Dolores Park, including playground, Mission High School, and the SF Armory.
"Dolores Park with Playground" by Amos Goldbaum
Former Dolores Park Playground with Boat (pre-2012).
Photo whatwhatwhatwhat (flickr)
Goldbaum, who has been selling his art since 2007, says that he's been drawing forever. His "nostalgic" San Francisco work is only a small part of his artwork, although the San Francisco based art is often his most popular work, especially on apparel.
Precision Printing by Amos Goldbaum
With his work on the "nostalgic" San Francisco, we feel he's actually giving greater exposure to our San Francisco history. Big historical sites and events often get the most exposure, but sometimes the daily life things like streetcars, an unloved freeway, and a beloved former playground mean just as much. Now if we could just get Amos to make some designs with the original SF street signs (that are gradually disappearing), the 17 Reasons billboard, or the soon to be former San Francisco Airport tower (as viewed from the tarmac), then we would be really happy.
San Francisco Int'l Airport control tower (circa 1960s). Photo: Nemo's great uncle

One of our favorite non-SF images is the Muttonchoperator.
Muttonchoperator t-shirt


  1. I dunno, I'd say the Muttonchoperator is totally an SF image. :-P

    1. Alas, Tamagosan you may be right. ;-) In fact I had wore a muttonchop for 2 weeks and was a resident of SF. Sadly the Muttonchoperator t-shirt is no longer available. However, you can get a print of it on Amos' web site.


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