Image of Herb Blast



THE CABLE CAR has the zaniness that "could only happen in San Francisco." With a few grumpy exceptions, this city is crazy about cables, crazy to keep them, perhaps crazy to have them. No other city would want a cable car system, and that is just fine. The cable car is our literal steel link with a past that is vanishing too fast, fading from sight just beyond the hill. We know there was a magic about the city, and we’re not quite sure where it went. But we do know we feel it whenever a cable emerges lopsidedly out of the fog, or waddles over a hill at dusk like an old woman with an armful of packages. We feel young again, in love with the city again, whenever we stand on the outside step, staring across the Green Valley to Coit Tower, or looking askance down the fearsome Hyde St. hill toward that Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista. Then the sea wind stings our cheeks and we feel the tingle of pride in being San Franciscans. How intelligent of us to live here!


The original building where the Buena Vista sits today was a boardinghouse until 1916 when the landlord converted the first floor into a saloon. That saloon was named the Buena Vista. ("Good View" in Spanish) The view was good indeed and it served as a warm meeting place for hundreds of fishermen and handlers who worked for the nearby Sardine Cannery. There they could take in a whiskey while scouting the bay for incoming fishing boats which would mean, "Quick! Finish your drink and back to meet the boats!"

In 1952, with the help of a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, the Buena Vista introduced to the world it's now famous Irish Coffee. The recipe has never changed and the view is still quite good.

Photo of Stanton Delaplane
The man who started it all.
Stanton Delaplane at the Buena Vista in 1975.

Photo of origional building

The original building that housed the Buena Vista at the corner of Hyde and Beach Streets. Early 1900's.


Photo of plaque on front of building

This plaque adorns the front of the Buena Vista commemorating the key players in what has become a national institution, The Buena Vista Irish Coffee.


1982 Cartoon classic by Bay Area Cartoonist Phil Frank
The BV's famous Irish Coffee makes a cameo appearance
in this 1982 classic by Bay Area Cartoonist Phil Frank.