Rare Unseen Downtown San Francisco Photos Show City Life in the 1930s and 1940s

San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a cultural, commercial, and financial center in the U.S. state of California. Located in Northern California, San Francisco is the 17th most populous city in the United States, and the fourth most populous in California, with 873,965 residents as of 2020.[15] It covers an area of about 46.9 square miles (121 square kilometers), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second most densely populated large U.S. city, and the fifth most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is the 12th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States with 4.7 million residents, and the fourth-largest by economic output, with a GDP of $592 billion in 2019. With San Jose, California, it forms the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area, the fifth most populous combined statistical area in the United States, with 9.6 million residents as of 2019. Colloquial nicknames for San Francisco include SF, San Fran, The City, and Frisco.

In 2019, San Francisco was the county with the seventh-highest income in the United States, with a per capita income of $139,405. In the same year, San Francisco proper had a GDP of $203.5 billion, and a GDP per capita of $230,829. The San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area, with a GDP of $1.09 trillion as of 2019, is the country’s third-largest economy. Of the 105 primary statistical areas in the U.S. with over 500,000 residents, this CSA had the highest GDP per capita in 2019, at $112,348. San Francisco was ranked 12th in the world and second in the United States on the Global Financial Centres Index as of March 2021.

San Francisco was founded on June 29, 1776, when colonists from Spain established the Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís a few miles away, both named for Francis of Assisi. The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought rapid growth, making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time; between 1870 and 1900, approximately one quarter of California’s population resided in the city proper. In 1856, San Francisco became a consolidated city-county. After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, it was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. In World War II, it was a major port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater. It then became the birthplace of the United Nations in 1945. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, significant immigration, liberalizing attitudes, the rise of the “beatnik” and “hippie” countercultures, the Sexual Revolution, the Peace Movement growing from opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, and other factors led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a center of liberal activism in the United States. Politically, the city votes strongly along liberal Democratic Party lines.

A popular tourist destination,[35] San Francisco is known for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Fisherman’s Wharf, and its Chinatown district. San Francisco is also the headquarters of companies such as Wells Fargo, Twitter, Block, Airbnb, Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc., Salesforce, Dropbox, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Uber, and Lyft. The city, and the surrounding Bay Area, is a global center of the sciences and arts and is home to a number of educational and cultural institutions, such as the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the University of San Francisco (USF), San Francisco State University (SFSU), the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the SFJAZZ Center, the San Francisco Symphony and the California Academy of Sciences. More recently, statewide droughts in California have strained the city’s water security. (Wikipedia)

Fourth and Market. September 9, 1947.
Traffic problems along First, Fremont and Market Streets. January 17, 1939.
Christmas traffic at the Fourth and Market Streets intersection. December 24, 1945
Market Street in San Francisco, looking toward the Ferry Building. 1940s
Traffic jam on 3rd Street at Market Street in San Francisco, July 25, 1937.
Traffic scene at 3rd and Market Streets in San Francisco, April 1, 1949.
Truck double parked on 5th and Mission Streets, in San Francisco, causing traffic jam. February 19, 1948.
Looking east on Mission Street, in San Francisco, between 4th and 5th Streets. December 9, 1946
6th and Market Streets, looking toward Mission Street. January 1946
One way Eddy Street, looking toward Market Street. February 19, 1948.
December 22, 1946
Looking downtown, toward O’Farrell and Stockton Streets, in San Francisco. December 23, 1948.
Grant Avenue between O’Farrell and Geary Streets, in San Francisco. February 19, 1948.
Bush Street looking west from Grant Avenue in San Francisco at 8:10 a.m., showing rush hour traffic. December 10, 1946
Traffic scene in San Francisco, possibly I-101 coming from the Bay Bridge in 1948
San Francisco downtown traffic scene. December 17, 1946
Market Street at 5th Street in San Francisco. December 6, 1945.
San Francisco traffic scene, Looking up 6th Street, towards Market Street. December 5, 1945
Post Street, above Powell, in San Francisco. December 17, 1946
Traffic jam in downtown San Francisco, ca 1930s.
Looking down Sutter from Powell Street in San Francisco in the 1940s.
Looking east at Stockton, Ellis and Market Streets in San Francisco in the 1940s.
J.C. Penney at 5th and Market Streets (southwest corner) in San Francisco. January 1945.
San Francisco traffic scene at Stockton and Market Streets. February 1, 1947.
Sir Francis Drake Hotel garage (spaces were all filled), in San Francisco. December 23, 1946
Bay Bridge traffic 1940s.
The RKO Golden Gate Theater can be seen in the photo, taken at Market and 6th Streets. December 6, 1945.
Traffic scene on Bush Street, near Grant Avenue in San Francisco. Astoria Hotel and Hotel Victoria can be seen on the right. 1940s
Ellis Street, between Powell and Stockton Streets in San Francisco. February 19, 1948.
Post Street at Mason Street in San Francisco. December 18, 1945
Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street, in San Francisco, shows a double parked truck, causing a traffic jam. 1940’s
Market and Powell Streets in San Francisco. December 14, 1945
Grant Avenue and Post Street in San Francisco. The Owl Drug Store can be seen in the photo. January 1946.
This photo was taken in front of 740 Mission Street, looking towards 3rd Street at 3:00 p.m. December 4, 1945.
Traffic scene on Market Street at Powell and 5th Streets in San Francisco, ca 1930s.
Passengers sitting on a streetcar cow-catcher at Church, 14th and Market Streets in San Francisco, ca 1930s.
San Francisco traffic scene on Kearny Street between Sutter and Post Streets, looking south at 8:35 a.m. on December 11, 1946
The Market Street Railway, 1930s.
Fire engine answering an alarm. If cars had been stopped in the second lane (as they usually were) the engines could not have gone up Stockton Street, from Ellis, in San Francisco. Ca. 1930s
Market Street, looking toward the Ferry Building in San Francisco, ca. 1930s.
Looking south at Stockton, Ellis and Market Streets in San Francisco. Street cars had to slow down for the droves of pedestrians , then sandwich their way through. Ca. 1930s
Market Street Railway cars. November 1, 1937
Street car jam on Market Street, near the Ferry Building in San Francisco, while people wait for transportation in the rain. October 15, 1937
Jaywalkers on Market Street in San Francisco, April 26, 1937.
Traffic jam at Grant Avenue and Post Street in San Francisco. 9:15 a.m. December 23, 1946
Typical San Francisco traffic congestion on Market Street. The Bank of America and Call Buildings can be seen in the photo. October 15, 1937
The [Bay] Bridge at 5:30 p.m. in San Francisco. Ten lanes of traffic looking west. December 3, 1946.
Fifth & Market Street. 1:20 p.m. December 24, 1948.
Traffic scene on Market Street and 7th Street, looking toward the Ferry Building. 5:10 p.m March 15, 1948
4:30 p.m. December 17, 1946
December 21, 1946
Market Street. October 17, 1937
Motorists jam Bay Bridge in transportation strike. June 11, 1947
Market Street traffic scene in San Francisco on May 20, 1937
Traffic scene on Market Street in San Francisco ca. 1940s.
Market Street, looking toward 5th Street in San Francisco. February 1, 1947
Full parking, at lot at 4:00 p.m., on Taylor Street, near Eddy Street in San Francisco. December 23, 1946

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