Exhibit: Rare North Beach History

Baccari North Beach Exhibit, Old Mint SF

What ever happened to the North Beach memorabilia collection at the North Beach Museum curated by Allesandro Baccari, Jr.? It was above Cavalli Cafe on Stockton until it suddenly disappeared several years ago. Rumors circulated all over the VIllage. Finally – mystery solved.

The answer was at the Old Mint downtown. All the North Beach Museum stuff was out of storage and on display. It took Al 3 weeks to install his fantastic private collection of North Beach’s Italian cultural and political memorabilia, ephemera and photos from the 1800s to present.

Baccari was born and raised in a prominent North Beach family and spent much of his youth with the Sicilians on Fisherman’s Wharf. He is an educator, businessman, museum curator and photographer. He founded the Fisherman’s Wharf Historical Society. His photography has been exhibited in museums around the world. He wrote a book on Fisherman’s Wharf and another on Saints Peter & Paul Church on Washington Square.

Al spent a lifetime collecting North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf pix and artifacts. Photographs spanning 100 years of North Beach life–early 1900s vestments and altar pieces from the 2 churches in the Village – Italian Garibaldi and unification of Italia militaria–opera costumes, posters and musical instruments–prominent North Beach resident histories – and much more are all on display.

Al has a motto – “Keep the fish in Fisherman’s Wharf.” He’s a leader in the struggle to maintain the Italian and Asian fishing communities on Pier 43 near Scomo restaurant. Most people don’t even know it’s there but it’s the largest fishing fleet on the west coast! Al’s just as passionate about North Beach. The Old Mint exhibit is part of his effort to preserve North Beach history and share his intimate knowledge of our special Village with all.

Al tells all in this interview.

Despite the puny sign–don’t miss this exhibit. It’s only open next Friday to Sunday.

Back Building Old Mint SF




The Old Mint is a beautiful building. The Baccari North Beach exhibit takes up the entire main floor – about 12 rooms-full – really worth a visit.




Decaf (OMG)/Real Blue Bottle Macchiato




Mint Plaza is abuzz – stop in at Blue Bottle, Chez Papa or 55 Mint.





Here’s a peek of the Baccari exhibit. See which Village landmarks you can identify!

Saints Peter & Paul Rising Again”


Recognize these two towers? The original church burned to the ground in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Almost twenty years later the church is reborn as “The Italian Cathedral of the West”.







Figone Bros. Hardware



Remember this Grant Avenue store that closed a decade ago. I loved the wall of small wooden drawers. The Figone boys knew which one held the screw you needed.




Columbus Ave. Looking Towards St. Francis of Assisi Church


How about these twin steeples? One of the 2 churches that bookend my Village.








A beautiful accordian from the last century.








Ferlinghetti’s The Old Italians Dying North Beach Ode


North Beach’s Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s original wall poem The Old Italians Dying chronicles a generational transition in the Village.






Merola Opera Company–1920s


Song still fills the air in the Village–Neapolitan songs at Trieste–opera on Puccini’s jukebox–the opera singing waiter at Colloseo–rock and R&B in the Grant Ave joints.








Garibaldi & Italian Unification Militaria


It’s the 150th anniversary of Italia’s unification–some Garibaldi items from that time.






Mayor Rossi’s Bowler 1934


Wasn’t Angelo Rossi the Mayor who gave the orders to fire at the striking longshoremen on Bloody Sunday in 1934?









Buon Gusto on Columbus 1926


I hope Baccari’s extraordinary North Beach finds a permanent home–maybe at the Museo Italo Americano in Fort Mason or at the Istituto Italiano Culturale on Montgomery just below Broadway. If we’re lucky maybe some of the photographs will even make it back to North Beach. I’ll let you know if they do.