San Francisco in World War II
This 1944 YANK MAGAZINE article reported that the city of San Francisco played an active roll in World War Two and it was the largest port of embarkation, ferrying millions of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines off to their unknown fates in the Pacific War. The San Francisco skyline was little altered as the city’s population increased by some 150,000 as a result the general unpleasantness taking place in the Far East; yet despite all this, traffic along Market Street was just as heavy as it was before the inconvenience of tire rationing was imposed. Taxis were fewer and far more dilapidated, trolley car rides were raised to an astounding seven cents and despite a government restriction mandating all coffee vendors to charge no more than five cents for each cup, the java-addicted San Franciscans paid twice that amount. U.S.O shows were plentiful throughout San Francisco and with so many of the city’s police officer’s called-up in the draft, some parts of the city were patrolled by women officers.
Historian Thadeus Russell lucidly explained in his book A Renegade History of the United States(2010) that it was W.W. II that made San Francisco one of the gay capitals of the world. In light of the fact that the city tended to cultivate an eccentric strain of entrepreneurial barkeeps and restauranteurs who recognized that the three naval installations located in and around San Francisco was not likely to simply host heterosexuals - a commercial opportunity had arisen. Throughout the war years, swift business was conducted at as many as eight gay bars.