23 Powerful Photographs of Vintage San Francisco

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.

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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

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

Vintage San Francisco Arcade

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

The Holi Festival, In Vibrant HD

Holi is a celebration of love, color, and the arrival of Spring. The festival is celebrated on the full moon closest to the vernal equinox, typically in late February or March. Now a global phenomenon, the Holi festival has its colorful and complex roots in Hindu tradition.

The story goes as follows: Prahlada was a young prince and heir to the throne of the Demon King, Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu was an arrogant king, demanding that all of his people worship him as a God. Prahlada, however, remained loyal to Lord Vishnu, one of the main heavy-hitters of the Hindu faith and a primary manifestation of the Divine.

Holi - Vishnu Slays Demon King.

Holi – Vishnu slays Demon King. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hiranyakashipu was furious that he did not hold his son’s favor. After numerous failed attempts to trick (well, to maim and murder) the prince into adulation of his father, the king sent his sister Holika after him.

Holi Festival

Holi festivalgoers throw colored dyes. Source: Holi One

Her plan was to wear a fireproof cloak and have the two of them sit on a pyre, but the protection of Vishnu was with Prahlada, and the cloak miraculously blew off of her, covering him. She burned to bits, of course. Like the festivals of the Pharmakos, Mardi Gras, and Carnival, the Holika bonfire that inaugurates the Holi festival is thanksgiving to Vishnu’s benevolence as well as a chance to purge oneself of past wrongdoings, grudges, and regrets– burning them away in the bonfire.

Woman receives facepaint at Holi.

Woman receives facepaint at Holi. Source: The Atlantic

The colored powders and paints are borrowed from another myth in which Krishna is poisoned by the breast milk of a she-demon, and is embarrassed to present his now tainted and discolored skin before the other young girls of the village, including his beloved Radha. Krishna’s mother says “May Radha paint your face any color she desires”, and indeed, Radha obliges. The two fall in love and wed.

A lovely message, a lovely bit of culture, a lovely faith- it’s a wonderful thing that Holi is spreading all over the world. It is important to remember that it’s a religious festival, but for the non-Hindu it can also be good, peaceful fun.

Tasman Island’s Dramatic Views

Tasman Island Australia

Once thickly forested, Tasman Island has since transformed into a barren plateau due to extended tree cutting and fires. Nevertheless, the remaining flora on this Australian island seem to be enough for the birds, seeing as a whopping 300,000-700,000 pairs of Fairy Prions calls Tasman home.

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