Bullitt Locations in San Francisco

April 1968, July 2002

Poster for the movie Bullitt

"BULLITT" is a trademark of Warner Bros./Chad & T. McQueen Testament Trust. Still captures from the Bullitt DVD are copyright Warner Bros., are included here for review puposes, and are for personal viewing only. Photos of present-day San Francisco are copyright ©Ray Smith. All rights reserved.

The Steve McQueen movie Bullitt was filmed in and around San Francisco in late April 1968. It featured a tremendous amount of on-location filming. Best remembered for the car-chase, the progenitor of all subsequent movie car chases, Bullitt is an excellent film. Below are some photos of places featured in the film as they appeared in 1968, and more recently in July and September of 2002.

The production company used two Mustangs and two Dodge Chargers to film the chase scenes. The Highland Green Mustangs had 390 cubic inch engines, while the Chargers had 440 cubic inch engines. The Chargers were 4-speeds, as were the Mustangs. The Dodge Charger was driven by Bill Hickman, who also played one of the hitmen in the film. The Winchester shotgun-toting hitman was played by Paul Genge. The Mustangs were driven by Bud Ekins, Carey Loftin, and McQueen. The camera car, built upon a Corvette chassis, was driven by Pat Houstis.

In the film, Bullitt lived at 1153 Taylor Street, at the corner of Clay Street (thanks to Brian Hollins for identifying the address). Here is the house as it appeared in the movie, and as it appeared in August of 1999. It had been painted beige and it looked better in blue. In September of 2002 the house had been repainted gray. This is a view of Bullit's house looking down Taylor Street in 1968 and again in 2002.

Frank Bullitt shopped at a market at 1199 Clay Street, directly across the street from his house. The market is still there (along with the fire alarm box), although the name has changed.

One of the film's scenic location shots (there are many) is of a house at 2700 Vallejo Street, at the corner of Vallejo and Divisadero in the Pacific Heights section of the city. In the film the house is the home of Walter Chalmers, a smarmy bureaucrat who requests the services of Detective Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQeen) to guard a state's witness, one Johnny Ross. The house appeared very much in 2002 as it did in 1968 (note the white Pontiac Firebird). The trees have grown quite a bit. Here it is on a sunny day.

Bullitt and his partners, Delgetti (played by Don Gordon), and Carl Stanton (played by Carl Reindel) drive to the Hotel Daniels at 226 Embarcadero Road. The hotel, which was actually the Kennedy Hotel across from Pier 18 at Howard and Embarcadero, is no longer there. In its place is the new corporate headquarters for the Gap Inc. An elevated highway ran right outside the hotel's west side, but it too is gone. Both were victims of the 1989 earthquake.

After being shot by two hitmen at the Daniels Hotel, Johnny Ross and Carl Stanton are taken to San Francisco General Hospital at 23rd Street and Potrero Avenue. Views of the exterior of the hospital may be found in the "Special Features" section of the Bullitt DVD. Here is one of the main entrance in 1968, and this is how that entrance appears in 2002. The brick center-section has been demolished and replaced with different architecture. Another view from the DVD shows one of the hospital's original buildings. Here is that same building in 2002.

Chalmers confronts Bullitt's superior Captain Sam Bennett at Grace Cathedral, on California Street at Taylor Street. The building in the right portion of the frame is no longer there. The cathedral looks very different in 2002 with the building gone. Chalmers serves Captain Sam Bennett with a writ of habeas corpus and has his minions witness the service from their position on California Street. You can see a gas station in the background. The gas station was razed in 1969 to make way for a Hyatt Hotel (which was later built at 5 Embaradero Center). The building which now occupies this space is the Gramercy Towers apartments. In another shot filmed at Grace Cathedral you can see the Pacific Union Club and the Fairmount Hotel behind Chalmers. Here is that view in 2002. There is also a shot looking south from the Cathedral showing the Masonic Temple on California Street. Here is that view in 2002.

Meanwhile Frank Bullitt enlists the aid of a Sunshine Cab driver named "Weissberg" (played by Robert Duvall) to retrace Johnny Ross' movements when he arrived in San Francisco. Their first stop is the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel at the corner of California and Mason. In June of 1999 the Mark looked much the same as it did in the movie. In July 2002 the entrance to the Mark Hopkins was undergoing renovation. By September of 2002 it looked very different.

The cab rolls past Columbus and Kearny (1968 and 2002) and stops at the corner of Broadway and Kearny. Here is the intersection in 2002. Bullitt meets his informant, Eddie, at Enrico's Sidewalk Cafe (504 Broadway at Kearny Street) to find out who is after Johnny Ross. The place hadn't changed much as of August 1999. They stand in front of a club across the street from Enrico's at 501 Braodway called the "Galaxie" in the movie. It is now called the Black Cat, a restaurant.

Weissberg returns Bullitt to the car wash at Bayshore near Marin. This area has changed substantially since April of 1968 and this is how it appears in 2002.

The famous car chase features a wild drive through several picturesque parts of San Francisco. The chase was filmed in a variety of disparate locations and there is little continuity. It took two weeks to film the chase, not surprising since the locations are spread out over a considerable part of the city. The lack of continuity is due to the logistics of filming in a working city. There are several basic locations from which the film crew operated and many shots were filmed at locations close to these areas. For example San Francisco General Hospital is close to the chase scenes filmed around 20th Street, Kansas Street, and Rhode Island Street, while Russian Hill served as the base for many of the chase scenes, with the Marina District only a short distance away.

The chase segment starts off, with the Charger trailing the Mustang, near the intersection of Potrero and Army streets in Bernal Heights. Here is this view in 2002. It then proceeds west on Army Street for a few blocks. Here is the view west on Army Street (now Cesar Chavez Street) in 2002.

Bullitt makes a U-turn on Army at Precita (note the Pontiac and the lighting: here is the very next frame with a 1956 Dodge Coronet where the Pontiac was and different lighting), and here is Army and Precita in 2002 with the gas station still in operation but no longer a Phillips 66. Bullitt then makes an immediate right turn on York Street (here it is in 2002).

The Charger follows and this view of Army eastbound is visble just before they make the right onto York. Here is how Army Street appears in 2002. He disappears up York Street (1968 and 2002) and the bad guys stop at the corner of York and Peralta and look west trying to find him. Here is the view looking west on Peralta in 2002. They continue on York at this odd little intersection of York with Peralta (here it is in (2002).

The two cars then magically appear on 20th Street at Kansas Street (here it is in 2002) in the Potrero Hills district where McQueen appears in their rearview mirror (thanks to Brian Hollins for his sleuthing). Here is that view in 2002. They continue north on Kansas Street for about two blocks.

The chase then suddenly jumps to the Russian Hill/North Beach area. It heads east on Filbert Street, with Coit Tower and Saints Peter and Paul Church visible in the center of the frame, at the corner of Taylor. This is a view looking east on Filbert Street in 2002.

The chase crosses Mason Street (you can see the cable car) (here is the intersection in 2002), then heads northwest on Columbus Avenue past Greenwich Street and the North Beach Playground (now named after Joe Dimaggio) through North Beach. At Chestnut and Columbus (home of Bimbo's 365 which is still there in 2002), the bad guys make an illegal left turn (note the white Pontiac Firebird) and head west (uphill) on Chestnut. Here is that view in 2002. In this view looking east on Chestnut the San Francisco Art College is visible. Here it is in 2002.

They then make a left on Leavenworth and head south toward Lombard.

The chase then continues at the intersection of 20th and Rhode Island in the Potrero Hills district again. Here is the same intersection in 2002. They continue on 20th Street and turn right heading north on Kansas. This is the same intersection in 2002.

Once again the chase makes a gigantic leap back into the Russian Hill district. The Charger appears making a right turn onto Larkin Street (heading north) from Lombard (headed west). They continue for one block on Larkin. Here is that view in 2002.

At the corner of Larkin and Chestnut streets Bill Hickman gets the Charger into a serious oversteer condition and then over-corrects and crashes into a 1956 Ford parked at the corner. The crash itself can be seen in the movie from one camera angle but the shot from the second camera angle was was not used in the film. In a rather impressive demonstration of driving skill, Hickman continues east on Chestnut Street after the impact, seemingly unaffected. Here is the view from the first camera angle in 2002. Trees have completely obscured the view west.

McQueen attempts to follow the Charger as it turns right on Chestnut and heads EAST. The Mustang understeers badly and he is forced to stop and back up in order to make the turn. Note the skid marks and also note the fact that the Mustang does not have a limited-slip differential as evidenced by the single long black tire mark left by the right rear tire as McQueen accelerates east on Chestnut. Here is the corner of Larkin and Chestnut as it looked in July 2002.

They then appear heading WEST on Chestnut then turn south on Jones (you can see the street sign and the distinctive building at Jones). They continue south on Jones Street. They make another left from Jones onto Lombard and head east on Lombard.

The locale now shifts to what is probably the most famous part of the chase. Taylor Street headed north crossing Vallejo in 2002 (that's Alcatraz Island in the background) and in 1968. They continue north (downhill) on Taylor, passing Green Street, approaching Union Street, passing Union Street, and arriving at Filbert Street. They turn left headed west on Filbert and pass the Chinatown campus of San Francisco City College.

At this point the film editors inserted footage shot from different (uphill facing) camera angles of the procession down Taylor Street. Here is Taylor at Vallejo looking south, Taylor just above Union Street looking south just before Green Street, and Taylor above Green Street (where the Mustang oil pan bursts after a hard landing) looking south. This is the view looking back up on (south) Taylor above Filbert, where they cut in front of a yellow taxi cab and a Cadillac.

During this portion of the chase, a green Volkswagen appears in the path of the Charger (and the Mustang) several times. It is the same green Volkswagen in each frame. There are also two Pontiac Le Mans (one white, one green) which also appear in several frames, always appearing in front of the chase, which is an obvious continuity lapse. The reuse of the Taylor Street footage may have gone unnoticed were it not for the green Volkswagen. Another car, a Pontiac Firebird, also appears in several sequences (once at Bimbo's 365 at Columbus and Chestnut, and again on Larkin Street at Francisco).

The chase next winds up on Larkin Street (again) and this time the two cars pass Chestnut street and continue on Larkin. The Dodge Charger hits the wall where Larkin Street curves left and becomes Francisco Street and loses another hubcap (which magically gets reattached in later frames). Note the white Pontiac Firebird. Here is the curve as it appeared in 1999. Here is the view looking back up Francisco. The cars head down Francisco past Polk Street (Galileo High School is visible behind the rearview mirror: It is still there).

They continue north on Laguna, which turns into Marina Boulevard. The intersection looks very different in 2002. Interestingly, you can see a gas station above and behind the Charger in this frame. It was located across Laguna Street from the Safeway parking lot but is no longer there. The entire area is a grassy hill within Fort Mason now part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area.

The chase passes the famous Safeway supermarket, which is still in operation, and Fort Mason. In the summer of 2002 the view had changed little. The railroad tracks, which connected Fort Mason's piers with the Presidio of San Francisco, are gone.

The chase continues west toward the Golden Gate Bridge on Marina Boulevard (2002). This sequence features several repeats, with the cars passing the Fort Mason area (2002) and the Safeway twice.

According to several printed sources, the chase was supposed to continue across the Golden gate bridge but the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District refused permission since even in 1968 it would have created a traffic nightmare, so the chase picks up again on University Street, which is all the way across the city to the south. Here is a shot from the film of the chase turning out of Olmstead Street passing the intersection of Mansell and University. Here is the intersection of Mansell and University in 2002. The chase continues into McLaren Park. Here is that road in 2002.

The chase picks up again on Market Street in Daly City headed eastbound past John F. Kennedy Elementary school at 785 Price Street and Guadalupe Canyon Parkway. It continues eastbound on Guadalupe Canyon Parkway through a road cut which looks remarkably the same in 2002. At various points during the eastbound portion San Francisco Bay is clearly visible (here is a section in 2002 showing San Francisco Bay in the background). The direction changes and the cars are shown heading westbound, passing through the same road cut they passed through headed east. In the scene where stunt driver Bud Ekins lays down a motorcycle, there are several radio towers visible on the hill in the background. Those towers are still there and this section looks very much as it did in the film. Shortly afterwards the chase ends when the Charger crashes in flames at a gas station at the corner of Guadalupe Canyon Parkway and North Hill Drive (in Brisbane, San Mateo County) which is now an office building.

Chalmers confronts Frank Bullitt at the ambulance entrance of the Hall of Justice at Harriet Street and Ahern. Here is that view in 2002. This is just prior to the point at which Bullitt discovers that the man shot at the Hotel Daniels is not Johnny Ross but Albert Edward Renick a used car salesman from Detroit. Bullitt knows that Renick made a long distance phone call from a pay phone near Union Square and has traced the number to a Dorothy Simmons (actually Judith Renick, wife of Albert Renick) at the Thunderbolt Motel in San Mateo.

Since his own car was damaged at the end of the chase, Bullitt gets his girlfriend Cathy, played by Jaqueline Bisset, to drive him to the Thunderbolt Motel in San Mateo, in her yellow Porsche 356B, to check on Judith Renick, aka Dorothy Simmons. The actual location is the Clarion Hotel at 401 East Millbrae Avenue just east of 101 in Millbrae (thanks to Mike Curtis for that information). Here is a photo of the motel as it appeared in July of 2002. The palm trees have grown substantially as have the trees planted between the motel and U.S. 101. The hotel has been rebuilt with the entrance nothing like it was in 1968.

Subsequently Bullitt and Cathy stop along US 101 North to talk, with Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard visible in the background. This view is from the Candlestick Point exit of the 101 North. Here is that view in 2002.

"BULLITT" is a trademark of Warner Bros./Chad & T. McQueen Testament Trust. Still captures from the Bullitt DVD are copyright Warner Bros., are included here for review puposes, and are for personal viewing only. Photos of present-day San Francisco are copyright ©Ray Smith. All rights reserved.

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Creation Date: Saturday, February 12, 2000
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Copyright © Ray Smith, 2000, 2002
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