San Francisco has certainly changed, that’s for sure. I thought that locating many of the filming sites would be rather simple, heck I had a book to tell me, didn’t I? Well…think again. As I walked the streets of San Francisco on the hunt for what remained of Hitchock’s “tortured Valentine” to the city, I couldn’t help feeling like Vertigo‘s villain, Gavin Elster, when he has Scottie in his office, “Well, San Francisco’s changed. The things that spell San Francisco to me are disappearing fast.” Yes, Gavin, yes the are. I chose a select few locations for my short stay. Ones that were easy for a girl on foot to get to (sorry, to Palace of the Legion of Honor or San Juan Bautista – although if I track down my photos of my last visit there, I will be sure to post them!), as well as places that had changed the least.
My visits to each location were scattered throughout my journey, and not in the order as seen in the film, however for simplicity’s sake we will go through them in the order they appear in the film. Except for Mission Delores that is, which will be covered tomorrow. Please note, this entry is full of spoilers for Vertigo. However, I would assume that you would only read this if you’ve seen the film…
In the Vertigo, Scottie visits Ernie’s to catch a glimpse of Madeleine, we first see an exterior shot of the restaurant.
What is so very surprising is that, although Ernie’s was an actual establishment, and Hitchcock had a very close relationship with the owners, he chose not to film at the location. Instead, both the outside and the inside of the restaurant were recreated on a sound stage. Hitchcock went to great lengths to recreate Ernie’s perfectly, which included art work and table settings borrowed from the actual restaurant.
The real Ernie’s closed in 1995, and was replaced by the Essex Supper Club, which apparently kept much of the original decor of Ernie’s. However, Essex didn’t last long, and closed in 1998, the original furniture and fixtures went to auction, according to Footsteps in the Fog.
Today, the location of the real Ernie’s is now a place called Carrots, “a luxury emporium” (according to their “about” page). The page also notes that they are indeed located at where Ernie’s once was, and claim that Ernie’s closed in 1999, contrary to Footsteps. Sadly, the outside maintains none of the original glamor of Ernie’s.