An alternative journey through SAN FRANCISCO seen from the perspective of DIRTY HARRY filming locations

Fort Mason Tunnel

(ENTRANCE): Corner of Laguna & Marina, San Francisco, CA, USA

(EXIT): Hamburger Stand, 3203 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA, USA

SCENE SYNOPISIS:

After the “nice little train ride” from Forest Hill, Callahan gets off at Church & 20th, answers the public phone, and receives further instructions from Scorpio:

“Yeah, you sound like you had a good little rest. You’ll need it. I’m gonna give you a nice little run this time. And you better make it, because if you don’t, dead girl. Yeah. Public phone. Hamburger stand. Aquatic Park. Hubba-hubba-hubba, pig bastard.”

So Callahan is ordered to the public phone next to the hamburger stand in Aquatic Park. To get there he must take a short-cut through Fort Mason tunnel.

Just inside the tunnel, near the west entrance, Callahan’s progress is halted by three petty crooks interested in the contents of the yellow bag. “What’s in the bag, man?…. Screw the bag, just give us your wallet.”

A small scuffle ensues. Callahan pulls his .44 Magnum on one of the hoodlums, the chunky bearded one: “You don’t listen do you, asshole!” This bearded Dude, staring bong-eyed down the barrel, virtually sucking on the muzzle, decides wisely to beat a hasty retreat. His two accomplices follow suit.

Unscathed and with the money intact, Callahan exits the tunnel on Van Ness Street where the public phone adjacent the hamburger stand is already ringing. It”s Scorpio, dead on time.

Scene-shot (00:50:53): After the "nice little train ride" Scorpio orders Callahan to the public phone, hamburger stand, Aquatic Park located on Van Ness Avenue. To get there Callahan must use the tunnel under Fort Mason. Here we see him entering the tunnel (west) entrance located at the corner of Laguna & Marina Streets. Note the sloping wall and fencing, the gate post, and concrete ledge (curb) running alongside the wall. In 2010 very little has changed - all the mentioned features are still in place. Only the rail tracks have been removed. The tunnel entrance is also fenced and locked to the public, but with a little initiative (climbing) it's easy enough to gain entry.

STATE OF PLAY TODAY:

Originally constructed to haul materials for building the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, the tunnel was soon appropriated by the U.S. Army. During World War II, as Fort Mason became the country’s foremost military port facility for the Pacific campaign, the tunnel was used extensively to move troops and materiel.

In the 1970s, not long after the filming of Dirty Harry, city authorities closed the tunnel. At the time of writing, there are plans to redevelop and re-open the tunnel for service on a new streetcar route (Embarcadero Line) running to Fort Mason.

Both the arched ENTRANCE and EXIT can be visited today and look almost identical to how they did in 1971. Access to the tunnel itself, however, is blocked off at both ends.

The ENTRANCE (on the corner of Laguna & Marina) is fenced off but can be climbed. The sloping wall, the gate post, and concrete ledge (curb) running alongside the wall as Callahan enters the tunnel in scene-shot (00:50:53) are all clearly identifiable today. Only the rail tracks have gone.

The EXIT, found at 3203 Van Ness Avenue in Aquatic Park, looks exactly as it was when Callahan emerged through it in 1971 as he heads for the phone booth across the street.

The HAMBURGER STAND opposite the tunnel exit in Aquatic Park still exists but in a  modified form: in 1971 it seemed nothing more than a flimsy wooden/plastic shack with a corrigated iron roof; today a strurdy oval-shaped concrete structure (similar in appearance to a military pillbox) takes its place. The phone booth(s) to the right used by Callahan to speak to Scorpio are gone.

 

Scene-shot (00:50:58): Clutching the yellow bag with $200,000 in ransom money, Callahan heads towards the darkened tunnel and into the unknown. Note the archway entrance he's about to pass under and the illuminated exit ("light at the end of the tunnel") at the opposite end.

Scene-shot (00:51:10): "What's in the bag, man?" Inside the tunnel Callahan's progress is halted by three "Dudes" interested in the contents of the yellow bag.

Scene-shot (00:51:21): "You don't listen do you, asshole!" After polite reasoning fails, Callahan lets his .44 Magnum do the talking. Here we see the bearded Dude staring down the muzzle of Callahan's gun. The other Dudes quickly beat it.

Scene-shot (00:51:45): Here we see Callahan emerging from the exit of Fort Mason tunnel. It's located on Van Ness Avenue just opposite the hamburger stand where Scorpio is due to ring with further instructions. The exit in 2010 looks much as it did in 1971 although today access is blocked off.

Scene-shot (00:51:45): The hamburger stand and public telephone booths are located directly opposite the Fort Mason tunnel exit at 3203 Van Ness Street. As Callahan exits the tunnel one of the phones is already ringing and it's Scorpio on the other end. Here we see Callahan sprinting towards the phone and vaulting over a small metal rail in a desperate attempt to prevent an older passerby from answering the phone. Today the hamburger stand still exists in exactly the same spot although it has since been rebuilt into a sturdy, concrete oval which gives it the uncanny appearance of a militray pillbox. The phone booths and the metal railing Callahan is seen here jumping over are gone.

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One response

  1. Thank for the wonderful details and geographical references. No I have not seen the movie, sad the entrances are now closed but at least they were open enough for the filming of it. And now it is a few days after the inauguration of Pres. Donald John Trump, Jan. 2017.

    January 23, 2017 at 11:00

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