Curious Coincidence: Photo Shows Same Time and Place as Frame from Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’


Here’s a pretty fascinating little story of two men with cameras being in the same place at around the same time, over half a century ago. One of the men was Alfred Hitchcock.

The story began over at the vintage photography blog Shorpy, where a member named Ron Yungul submitted the above photograph. It was captured by his late father on the hills of San Francisco in 1957.

Yungul writes that his father captured the image in August of that year with a Contax camera and Kodachrome film. The Bay Bridge can clearly be seen in the background.

After the photo was published, a Shorpy commenter named dustybroome noticed that the photo looked similar to a shot in the 1958 Hitchcock iconic film Vertigo, which was also based in SF. He writes,

Looks like Alfred liked this view of the bridge. He used the same intersection in the “Vertigo,” where Jimmy Stewart was following Kim Novak about 54 minutes into the film. He must have seen the film or been a location scout. Pretty amazing coincidence.

and here’s a still of the film he snapped showing what he meant:


Here’s a larger movie still captured a moment earlier in the film:


But wait! Compare the two shots a little more closely, and you’ll see that they are nearly identical. The cars, the shadows, and everything else in the scene are pretty much in the same positions.

In other words, Yungul’s father must have captured his photograph within hours minutes of Hitchcock passing by and shooting his.

Head on over to Shorpy and check out the post’s comments to see how the conversation unfolded as this coincidence came to light.

Streets of San Francisco: 1957 [Shorpy via]

  • WillMonson

    Not hours – minutes. Notice where the shadow from the salmon color car aligns with the car ahead of it.

  • Tyler James Branston

    except the blue car on the right is gone, and a new blue car has parked in its place. In hitchcocks, its a station wagon, in the photographers, its a sedan.

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  • Dette S

    In the photographer’s image, there is what looks like a blue car in front of the green one, so it’s possible the wagon pulled out after the filming car had passed, and the sedan then pulled in.

    Edit: on closer inspection, the car in front has the same tail light as the wagon (seen from the enlarged version by clicking the image) so I’m almost 100% positive these may be minutes apart.

  • Anton Pishchour

    If these cars belonged to the people who lived in the houses along the road, they might very well stand there in exactly the same order every morning.

  • Fabian White

    Not to mention that the car in front of the salmon one is a different color – probably similar models, but it looks like a different car, and the shadow on the building on the left has shifted slightly. I’d say it’s probably between 30 and 45 minutes difference between the two.

  • Dustin Gariepy

    The care in front of the salmon car is the same car, the color is off between images but it’s is the same car. the positioning of all the cars is exactly the same in both images, no way was this taken on a different day even if all the owners live in the houses they are parked in front of. That alignment would never happen more than once. With the shadows where they are in both pictures it’s minutes apart for sure.

  • CornDog

    Maybe the turquoise Pontiac sedan on the right belonged to the photographer. He snaps a pic and drives away. The blue and white Ford station wagon pulls up to take the parking spot. Then the film crew rolls through.

  • JanPB

    It almost certainly wasn’t Hitchcock but the second unit. BTW, the original sequence in “Vertigo” was longer. Hitchcock shortened it to speed up the proceedings but locals can tell the scene no longer makes much sense, topographically speaking.