The Dashiell Hammett Tour provides several maps and descriptions of places where Hammett lived and worked, as well as locations from Hammett’s stories. The tour can be taken by car or on foot. Walking takes about three hours and winds through the Tenderloin, over Nob Hill, down into the Financial District, and ends in Union Square. With 29 sites to see, there is something for every Hammett/San Francisco fan.
Sixth Floor sleuths on the case at 891 Post St. (Photo: J. Smallwood)
Some of the highlights from the walk include:
891 Post - “Sam’s Place”
Dashiell Hammett lived here when he created the famous detective Sam Spade, who also "lived" in this apartment on the northwest corner of the building. A plaque on the front of the building declares the site a Literary Landmark by Friends of Libraries, USA, and a friendly resident seemed quite proud of that fact as he pointed out the apartment to us while we took turns taking photographs of ourselves in front of the doorway.
1201 California - “Brigid’s Place”
The climb up California Street to the top of Nob Hill was no deterrent to those of us who wanted to see the building that most Hammett fans believe was the model for the Coronet, the apartment building where Brigid O’Shaughnessy stayed in The Maltese Falcon. Now called the Cathedral Tower, a large “C” used to decorate an awning in front of the building, one of the clues behind the hunch that it was Brigid’s place.
Travel along Dashiell Hammett Street between "Brigid's Place" and the top of the Stockton Tunnel. (Photo: L. Weddle)
Bush Street above the Stockton Tunnel and Burritt Street
No Hammett tour would be complete without stopping at the scene where Sam Spade’s partner, Miles Archer, was "done in."
(Photo: W. Kramer)John’s Grill
Let’s face it, the tour is a long walk - or drive - so it’s probably no coincidence that the tour ends with food at John’s Grill, where you can order “Sam Spade’s Lamb Chops” served, of course, with a baked potato and sliced tomatoes.
While Herron's Dashiell Hammett tour ends at John's Grill, you can continue your own mystery tour by finding out more about Hammett and his detectives' adventures at the San Francisco Public Library. For a complete list of Hammett's books, as well as movies based on them, search the online catalog under "Author" for Hammett, Dashiell.
Still want more? Hammett's very own typewriter is on display here in the San Francisco History Center/Book Arts & Special Collections on the sixth floor of the Main Library.
Dashiell Hammett's typewriter, donated by his daughter, Jo Hammett, Dec. 2001 (Photo: W. Kramer)
For more mysteries set in San Francisco, check out the July/August 2010 edition of SFPL's NextReads - San Francisco Interest!