CREDIT: The Old Lady Moves On

"The Old Lady of Kearny Street" went out of business last week. Closed was the powerful bail-bond firm of McDonough Bros., which had flourished for 50 years in San Francisco. The building—in the shadow of the Hall of Justice (police courts)—still has the cupid-festooned ceilings, mahogany woodwork and silver spittoons of the days when it was a saloon. San Franciscans believe it was the first bail-bond firm in the U.S. It was without a doubt the most notorious business house in San Francisco.

The Old Lady helped San Francisco be what many a...