Since then, drawing on a fund paid into by lawyers admitted to the bar,
Hall has installed more than 150 photos in the San Francisco courthouse and 100-odd more in San Jose. He and Breyer have transformed the tiresome wait in the hallway into a history lesson.
"When somebody has to go to court, it's usually compelled,'' Breyer told me. "So it's been very interesting to hear people's reaction, which has been overwhelmingly positive. They come here expecting one thing and discover something else.''
I can vouch for that statement firsthand. Having had to spend a fair amount of time outside Breyer's San Francisco courtroom during the Reyes and Del Biaggio cases, I've come to regard the old photos of San Francisco on the walls as friends the Sutro baths, the Panama-Pacific exposition of 1915, the original Cliff House.
Hall has served as scavenger, production manager and layout designer for this exhibition. He gets a surprising number of his shots from the public domain, like libraries. He's also resorted to eBay and once even bought 30 rolls of photos of the Transamerica tower's construction. (The Web site of his company, Business Image Group which also prepares photos for corporate offices is www.businessimagegroup.com.)
With an exacting Breyer as editor, Hall has distilled long descriptions into tight captions that fit well under the Twitter line. "I've busted my chops learning to edit,'' he told me. "We've probably spent nearly as much time on the captions as in reproducing the photos.''
The photos, which are generally placed in 24-by-30 inch frames, reach back far enough to tell a story that departs from the standard travelogue: In San Jose, for instance, they include an early shot of the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton. There's another 1875 shot of the original Palo Alto the big tree for which the town was named and still another of an aging Leland Stanford breaking ground for his university in 1887.
In deference to U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd, a train buff, Hall has included at the San Jose courthouse several photos of early trains, including one of a trolley arriving at Alum Rock Park.
In San Francisco, the variety stands out even more. One of my favorites shows a gathering of Hollywood stars at the Palace Hotel in 1932 for a private party. In the photo is an unmistakable Edward G. Robinson.
An even older photo shows sand dunes on the site of Golden Gate Park, shot from the site of the Cliff House before the park was developed. Not far away is a shot of a couple at the Top of the Mark in the 1940s.
There's a special reason for that one. It's where Judge Breyer proposed to his wife.
Contact Scott Herhold at email@example.com
See article in Mercury News