San Francisco has a long history, from the Gold Rush period to a tech hub; it’s undeniably a city with an interesting history. SF is known for its counter-culture contributions, rows of colorful Victorian homes, beautiful parks, and much more. Take a look through SF’s colorful, important, and varied history with these historic photos.
1. The Cliff House Restaurant, circa 1941
The Cliff House has a long history in SF, with the first iteration dating back to 1863. Today, the third Cliff House is still standing today. Unfortunately, the iconic restaurant closed in late 2020, but it recently announced plans to reopen.
2. Golden Gate Bridge under construction, 1934
Construction on the Golden Gate Bridge first started in 1933, and the bridge was open to traffic in March 1937. Building the bridge was dangerous; a total of 11 workers died during the construction. The bridge was painted it’s now famous red not only for aesthetics but also to help the bridge be visible to passing ships even amongst the fog.
3. The San Francisco Exposition, 1915
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was hosted in 1915 to celebrate the to celebrate the Panama Canal. The grand fair came just nine years after the devastating 1906 earthquake, and 18 million people visited San Francisco during the fair’s run.
4. A fire after the 1906 earthquake
On April 1st, 1906, a devastating earthquake hit San Francisco, starting several large fires that would burn through the city for three days. While many homes and buildings weren’t destroyed in the initial quake, the fires devastated the city.
5. Victorians after the 1906 Earthquake
While many San Francisco homes were left standing and still line the streets today, many were left damaged by the earthquake.
6. Mission Dolores, 1866
The mission Dolores was first constructed between 1782-1791, and has continuously held religious services in its many years since. The mission was constructed in Spanish colonial architecture and was restored in 1920 by Willis Polk.
7. San Francisco waterfront, 1900
San Francisco’s waterfront has a long history since the first few ships sailed to it in the 19th century. Now, the San Francisco waterfront looks very different from its early years.
8. Cliff House, 1902
The original Cliff House was built in 1863 as a resort for wealthy travelers visiting the Bay Area, patrons included U.S. Presidents and the most affluent SF families. On Christmas day in 1894, a fire broke out, burning down the cliff house. Following the fire, owner Adolph Sutro built the second Cliff House, pictured above, in 1896. The new structure was eight stories tall and resembled a grand castle. Unfortunately, it also succumbed to a fire in 1907.
9. Court of Palms, 1915
The Court of Palms was one of the many structures built for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Unfortunately, most of the structures were torn down following the fair, except for the now iconic Palace of Fine Arts.
10. Sutro Baths, 1900
Adolph Sutro, a San Francisco millionaire who was also responsible for the second Cliff House, built Sutro Baths in 1894. Sutro Baths were recreational swimming pools built on Lands End. The baths were filled with ocean water and could accommodate 10,000 people.