23 Powerful Photographs of Vintage San Francisco

Published October 2, 2014
Updated October 17, 2017

San Francisco is best known for the lazy fog that drapes its steep, geometric hills. The city, which was first founded in June 1776, is home to a number of beloved tourist attractions and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz island. In this gallery of vintage San Francisco photographs, we uncover how the city has changed over the past century. Now a bustling international hub and the headquarters of various large banks and corporations, San Francisco continues to adapt and grow.

Vintage San Francisco
Source: Distractify

San Francisco Earthquake 1906
The photo shows the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake that caused damage to much of San Francisco. Source: Vintage Everyday

San Francisco Fire 1906
Fires continue to burn in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Source: Kammer

San Francisco Floral 1913
San Francisco Floral opens its doors to the public in 1913. Source: Historical Perspectives

Vintage San Francisco Trolley
Source: Wikipedia

Construction on Golden Gate Bridge
Builders construct the Golden Gate Bridge in 1934. Source: History in Photos

Vintage San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Opening Day
People walk across the Golden Gate Bridge on its opening day, May 27th, 1937. Source: Vintage San Francisco

John Gutmann San Francisco
A photograph taken by John Gutmann in 1938. Source: tout ceci est magnifique

Street Sweepers Vintage San Francisco

SRO in San Francisco
Source: CCSRO

Market Street San Francisco 1950
A glimpse at San Francisco’s Grant Street in Chinatown. Source: SFGate

1953 Vintage San Francisco
Young boys wait to ride the Ridee-O ride at Playland-at-the-Beach in Golden Gate Park in 1953. Source: Huffington Post

Vintage Alcatraz Prison
Prisoners mill around Alcatraz prison in the San Francisco bay. Source: Best California Beach

San Francisco 1960 Easter
San Francisco in the 1960s. Source: Pirkle Jones

Legendary baseball star Willie Mays gets his 3,000th career hit in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1970. Source: KTVU

Painted Ladies San Francisco
These Victorian style homes, called the “Painted Ladies,” have been featured in a number of films. They are located directly across from Alamo Square Park in Hayes Valley. Source: Debs Travels

Vintage San Francisco 1970s
Folks relax at a San Francisco park in the 1970s. Source: Marc Rochkind

Peace Rally San Francisco
A 1970s peace rally takes place in San Francisco. Source: Shorpy

GLBT Vintage San Francisco
People congregate at the Castro Street Fair, an LGBT street festival in the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco. Source: LGBT Historical Society

Gay Rights Movement San Francisco

Vintage San Francisco Arcade
Boys play a game at an arcade in San Francisco. Source: SF Gate

Kiri Picone
Kiri Picone holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from Pepperdine University and has been writing for various digital publishers for more than 10 years.