The Emporium, San Francisco, California



Read a new, illustrated
history of the "Big E"

The Emporium (1896)
835 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103 (1866/1906)

YUkon 2-1111

The Emporium on Market Street in San Francisco
The original facade of The Emporium - the front survived the earthquake of 1906, but the building itself was reconstructed (with a new dome) behind

Interior of The Emporium's street floor, looking towards the rotunda

Fur Salon on the second floor of The Emporium



DOWNTOWN STORE DIRECTORY

Basement
CafeteriaThe Big E Basement

Street Floor
Fine Jewelry • Costume Jewelry • Watch Repair • Precious Metals • Silver • Handbags • Small Leather Goods • Fashion Gloves • Women's Accessories • Small Accessories • Blouses • Sweaters • Hosiery • Beauty Court • Dome CafĂ© • California Sportswear • Fashion Shoes • Luggage • Notions • Stationery • Calculators • Business Machines • Books • Stamps • Coins • Linens • Bedding
Men's Store Men's Accessories • Men's Furnishings • Men's Dress Shirts • Men's Neckwear • men's Sport Shirts • Men's Toiletries • Smoke Shop • Men's Shoes • Men's Hats • Men's Sportswear • Active Sportswear • Directions • Vanguard Shops • Men's Clothing

Mezzanine
Mezzanine Restaurant • The Hofbrau • Drugs and Sundries • Bakery • Gourmet Shop • Wine and Liquor • Continental Room Beauty Salon • American Room Beauty Salon

Second Floor
California Dresses • Daytime Dresses • Casual Dresses • Misses' Dresses • Social Dresses • Misses' Coats • California Coats • Suits • Spectator Sportswear • Active Sports • Trend Shop • Action Shop • Intempo Sportswear • Signature Dresses • Signature Sportswear • Rose Room • Fur Salon • Bridal Salon • Millinery • Colegienne Sportswear • Colegienne Dresses • Colegienne Coats • Lingerie • Loungewear • Robes • Junior Lingerie • Shape Shop

Third Floor
Furniture • Sleep Shop • Broadloom • Rugs • Draperies • Custom Draperies • Curtains • Ensembles • China • Glassware • Gift Shop • Pictures • Mirrors • Lamps • Housewares • Gourmet Cookware • Decorative Housewares • Small Electric Appliances • Cutlery • Barware • Hardware • Garden Shop • Appliances • Televisions • Radios • Stereos •Records

Fourth Floor
Sporting Goods • Wheel Goods • Toys • Hobby Shop • Pet Shop • Fashion Yardage •Trim-A-Home Shop • Infants' Shop • Toddlers' Shop • Infants' Furniture • 3-6x shop • 7-14 Shop • Hi Shop • Young Peoples' Shoes • Boy's Shop • Boys 3-7 Shop

Fifth Floor
Offices

Sixth Floor
S.F. Room Auditorium



BRANCH STORES

Stonestown (1952)
19th Avenue & Winston Dr.
258,000 s. f.







Stanford Shopping Center (1956)
Palo Alto
236,000 s. f.




Stevens Creek (1957)
Santa Clara
230,000 s. f.






Hillsdale (1962)
San Mateo
200,000 s. f.







Marin (1964)
Northgate Shopping Center
San Rafael






Santa Rosa (1966)
Coddington Regional Mall
203,000 s. f.






Almaden Plaza (1968)
San Jose

Mountain View (1970)

Tanforan Park Shopping Center (1972)
San Bruno









Northridge (1972)
Salinas

Eastridge (1978)
San Jose

19 comments:

  1. Up until the late 1970's, the Downtown store had an extensive basement store. In the true sense, it featured menswear, women's wear, children's, housewares, etc, all of a lower quality (and price) than the main store. It also had a cafeteria. The Big E basement was the first place I ever bought 'pre-washed' jeans (prior to that, you bought your Levi's new and washed and sandpapered them to make them soft and comfortable). When the BART subway opened in 1972, there was a direct entrance into the Emporium basement. All this was removed in the late 1980's and The Market on Market, the Emporium's answer to Macy's Cellar was installed. The store abandoned the iconic 'E' in the 1970's and, under Carter Hawley Hale's mismanagement, began a slow, painful decline, until ultimately going out of business in 1996.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The big 'E' logo was what started my department store fascination nearly 25 years ago! Their cross-bay sibling Capwell's of Oakland also had direct BART subway access, which opened on Sept. 11, 1972. The San Francisco subway opened on Nov. 3, 1973. It was in 1980 when they combined the names into the hyphenated moniker, Emporium-Capwell. In the fall of that year, they opened their first post-merger store at Stoneridge in Pleansanton, followed by Sunvalley in Concord (1981), and Solano Mall in Fairfield (1983). Later in 1983, they moved their downtown Hayward store to the former Liberty House at Southland. A year later, they opened in the former Bullock's North at Vallco Fashion Park in Cupertino, and finally relocated their Fremont store to NewPark in 1987. I hope you plan an exhibit on their Sacramento-based sibling, Weinstock's very soon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. When I first moved to San Francisco back in 1993. I was looking for all sorts of things to furnish my apartment(I needed almost everything). A co-worker of mine said" have you been to the Emporium"? I had not heard of this store as only having been in San Francisco about a month. I had looked in MACY'S but I did not like the what they had to offer as well as they were expensive. So I walked into the Emporium store on Market Street and was so surprised to get all that I needed for my apartment at half the price of what I could have gotten at MACY'S. To this very day I still have some of the towels and Linens and blankets that I had gotten at the now long gone Emporium. I also still have my gold and red Emporium charge card.

    ReplyDelete
  4. There was also a branch in Walnut Creek ion the East Bay of San Francisco. It is now a, what else...Macy's!

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Market Street store had a great Winter Wonderland every year. Ice Skatting mini show, Santa and the Roof Rides. Later the Stonestown store also had Roof Rides for the Christmas season.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My first charge account in the 1960's was a metel "Charge Plate", when your credit was approved the different department stores would notch the cards to fit their machines. Mine was notched for the Emporium and Macy's.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The big E had a wonderful Christmas display, roof rides and Santa visit on the roof of the Market Street store. Other less well known trivia ... they used a massive pneumatic tube system until sometime in the 70s and there were operators in the basement sending them on to their final destinations. Tunnels under the store ran out under Jesse Street to the warehouse/stockrooms/buying offices building (a construction that would never be allowed today). There was also an over-street walkway (enclosed) but by the final years the store was operating it was considered unsafe to use.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I remember in the 1960's my parents driving to San Francisco from San Jose to by my "Camp Fire Girls" uniform at the BIG Emporium....It was a very impressive day go to the big city....Camping took I NOW love a big RV...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have enjoyed this blog so much. So glad I found it. The Emporium was my favorite store in 1948 through 1950 when I lived in San Francisco and worked down the street at the ADT Burglar Alarm Company and walked down there lots of times on my lunch hour to shop. Fortunately had a great boss that let me take as long as I wanted. I would like so much to see Market Street now after all those years! It is definitely on my bucket list!

    ReplyDelete
  10. There was a mini Emporium in Lafayette,CA a neighbor town of Walnut Creek. I remember going with my mom there. The same metal charge plate was used. The store was in a shopping center and was really just like a normal store with a second floor. As I remember, a total of no more than 5,000 sq ft as our house was half that size an all I can compare it to.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I grew up in the 70s in the Palo Alto area and the Emporium was one of my favorite stores. We used to go to the store at Stanford Shopping Center (now Bloomingdale's) all the time. A newer store was built in Mountain View at ElCamino and Highway 85, which we visited much less.

    ReplyDelete
  12. In the 50's my Christmas memories always included the Emporium window displays, Santa, the roof top rides and the decorations. The dome was always too my breath away and still does now in the Bloomingdale center.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I remember shopping at the Emporium on Market with my parents around 1960. On an open mezzanine above the 1st floor were a group of women sitting and mending silk stockings. Does anyone remember that? I asked my mother what the women were doing.

    ReplyDelete
  14. In the mid-50s there was a stamp collector's counter on the main floor. The best of all was the Muffie Doll counter in the toy department. The roof rides at Christmas were always a highlight. One year Roy from the Mickey Mouse Club came to do a presentation in the toy store. I was invited to go with my friend Susan, but we got there too late and the show was over!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I grew up in the late 80s/early 90s in SF and still live here. I remember when i was little wandering around this magical store while my mom shopped. I wandered up some stairs to the rooftop and found a vintage trolley/ streetcar parked there with no one around. I was nervous to go in and play around in it since i didnt know if this place was off limits. I also didnt know if i would be locked up there when the door closed behind me. I risked in and played around in it. It seems like a surreal dream now. After graduating from a university, I went back to SF and actually worked in the emporium building for a while, although, of course it is now called the westfield mall and it is so lame, nothing compared to the old days. I worked in a store there because it was the only job i could find even with a bachelors degree. I still am underemployed.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Some of my favorite childhood memories, circa 1954-1958 or so.

    ** The roof rides, of course.

    ** My mother giving me $1 to buy Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" record

    ** Going with a friend to see Roy of The Mickey Mouse Club in the toy department.

    ** Taking my allowance and buying packets of stamps for my stamp collection

    ** Being fitted for my first bra!

    ** The absolute best of all was the Muffie Doll counter. All those stacks of blue and pink polka-dotted boxes with the cutest outfits. It was almost impossible to pick. One Christmas my grandmother gave me the wedding dress costume that cost $5.00.

    Wow, I bet I could think of many more.....

    ReplyDelete
  17. I remember the roof top rides at Christmas, in Stonestown. One of the highlights of the season, in my childhood. And going to the downtown store, we had to dress in our Sunday best, when I was very young. The Big E was our family department store of choice, where I always got my girl scout uniforms. A friendly place that I miss, in these days of Walmart and Costco.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My mother and I used to take the E Streetcar from the Presidio all the way downtown to the Emporium.....one time at Christmas, I saw Santa after standing in a long line....unfortunately, Santa terrified me and the photo of the two of us is of me crying and Santa trying to put on a happy face!......another time, I had been looking forward to going to the Emporium with my mother, but it rained that day and she cancelled our adventure....I was so sad...I really treasured those adventures with my mom....

    ReplyDelete
  19. O I love this blog! So glad to see others with memories of the roof rides at Christmas! That was the first time I saw a corn dog, and always associate them with Christmas, somehow!

    ReplyDelete

Comments