Portal to The City’s Past – Slot Machines in North Beach
From 1893 to 1909 San Francisco was the slot machine capital of the world, and the machines popped up in billiard halls, saloons, and other raucous enterprises as well as in more upstanding businesses.
The San Remo provided metal coins or tokens that advertised the hotel’s original name (“New California Hotel”), good for a drink at the downstairs bar or to try Lady Luck again at a “one-armed-bandit” in the corner.
A lone surviving token from the hotel’s past states “New Cal. Hotel Bar, 2239 Mason, Good for 5 cent drink.” The San Remo joined other respectable North Beach establishments in issuing these tokens, which are now collectors’ items.