What can we see in this wide-angle view looking south on San Pablo Avenue at Solano Avenue in 1947? For one thing, traffic looks much lighter than today and the photographer dared to go into the middle of the street to take this. (You can click the photos for larger versions.)
The Rexall Drug Store at the northwest corner (later Cortese Drugs and now a cafe) should look familiar to those who know the area from 20 or more years ago. The southwest corner, where American Florist lasted into the 1980s, should also look familiar. The SP Store at the northeast corner, now Max’s Liquors, is little changed other than the name.
What else do we notice? Alcohol is a big commodity in 1947 — at least in this little section of the business district. In the space of half a city block there are three liquor stores and at least two (and probably three) restaurants serving bar drinks.
Starting at the right of the photo, the Italian restaurant next to the Rexall (which itself carries Optimo cigars) has a neon cocktail glass on its sign.
Across the street on the southwest side is Albany Cut Rate Liquors, next door to American Florist. In between those two establishments is Wayne’s The Spot (motto Let’s Eat), which may or may not serve drinks.
Coming back to the little bit of the northeast corner shown in the photo, where a panel delivery van is making a fast turn, we have the SP Corner Store and Liquors (now Max’s), originally opened to serve commuters on the Southern Pacific red cars that once ran down Solano. It was later a favorite place for race track patrons to buy a copy of the Daily Racing Form on their way to Golden Gate Fields. Note that it was also a Greyhound Bus station.
As a bonus, we have this view of the same intersection looking north circa 1942, with the SP Corner Store and its striped awnings prominent.