High-Speed Train derails Landmark Photography Studio

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Posted Thu, Apr 7, 2016

Gasser sits in the office of his father’s landmark photography store on Second Street in San Francisco. The store front will be shit down due to the ongoing construction of a new rail system set to run through the city.

Adolph Gasser sits in the office of his father’s landmark photography store on Second Street in San Francisco. The store front will be shit down due to the ongoing construction of a new rail system set to run through the city. [Photo: Sarah Courtney]

SAN FRANCISCO – Steal beams and high-speed trains threaten one of San Francisco’s landmarks on the northwest end of the South Beach district.

In 1950 Adolph Gasser opened the Hobby Center, a retail shop that sold model trains, airplanes, camera and art supplies. Later in 1976, the business evolved to what is now known as Adolph Gasser Photography, operating continuously on the historical Second Street in the heart of downtown San Francisco.

Owner John Gasser, son of Adolph Gasser, has seen a city his father set roots in change drastically over the past 40 years. Adolph Gasser was responsible for bringing many of America’s pioneers in photographic and motion picture history to San Francisco.

The landmark Adolph Gasser Photography store on Second Street in San Francisco, faces termination due to the construction of a new high-speed rail system set to run through the heart of the city. [Photo: Sarah Courtney]

The landmark Adolph Gasser Photography store on Second Street in San Francisco, faces termination due to the construction of a new high-speed rail system set to run through the heart of the city. [Photo: Sarah Courtney]

Adolph Gasser Photography was the first to introduce Nikon cameras to the US market in late 1950’s. “He was the one who brought Nikon to the USA and became the first dealer to sell Nikon cameras,” Gasser said. “He was also close friends with Ansel Adams, who would be the best man at my father’s wedding.”

Michael O’Connor has been with Adolph Gasser Photography for the past 11 years as manager of the video and motion picture department. “Basically what’s happening is they’re building a bullet train, a high-speed train, from here to Los Angeles. And a terminal will be here in San Francisco at the TransBay Terminal, which they’re building right now behind our building which is at 1st and Mission,” O’Connor said.

The project was first introduced in 2006 and lawmakers decided to wait a couple of years until they had the votes. In 2008, California voters said, “Yes” to the project. Since that time it has been met with scrutiny and legal hearings over eminent domain. “The city began the project about 10 years ago without letting any of the business owners know about eminent domain,” Gasser said.

Gasser overlooks the railway construction behind his store on Second Street. The Adolph Gasser Photography store will be forced to close as the building continues to push East through the city. [Photo: Sarah Courtney]

Adolph Gasser overlooks the railway construction behind his store on Second Street. The Adolph Gasser Photography store will be forced to close as the building continues to push East through the city. [Photo: Sarah Courtney]

The construction showed up at the back door of John’s family business back in 2011. “The project began 5 years ago though and there is no true end date,” Gasser said.

As time passes on Gasser Photography, like others in the area, plans for the future have begun to unfold.

“In the next few years perhaps 3, 5 or 6 years. We are going to have to close this store because they are going to tear all these buildings down and put the trains in a tunnel underneath our building,” O’Connor said.

Gasser now sees his father’s legacy threatened by political agendas and billion dollar deals.

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