After gold was discovered in California in 1848, people from all over the world flocked to San Francisco.
By 1852, the city's population had reached around 36,000. That led to a boom in the construction of new houses, buildings, and roads throughout the city.
The earliest Chinese immigrants to San Francisco were mostly men. Many of them opened shops and restaurants on Grant Avenue, which is still the center of the city's Chinatown.
The Golden Gate strait got its name in 1848 because it was considered a gateway to trade with Asia.
It also more easily connected San Francisco to East Coast cities like New York.
Passengers rode down an incline in a flat-bottomed boat at 60 miles per hour. When they hit the water, the boat would skip across the surface a few times.
The ride was moved to an amusement park, Playland-at-the-Beach, in 1921. It was eventually torn down in 1950.
The fire killed more than 3,000 people, making it the deadliest disaster in California history.
The original Palace Hotel was an overwhelming presence at the time of its construction, spanning almost an entire block and looming above the rest of San Francisco's buildings at 120 feet tall.
The rebuilt hotel was erected in the same spot, across the street from the San Francisco Chronicle building. The newspaper was established in 1865. It shared an intersection with two other daily papers, the San Francisco Call and the San Francisco Examiner. The area was known as "Newspaper Row."
The rebuilt hotel was erected in the same spot, across the street from the San Francisco Chronicle building. The newspaper was established in 1865. It shared an intersection with two other daily papers, the San Francisco Call and the San Francisco Examiner. The area was known as Newspaper Row.
The fair lasted for nine months, from February to December. It featured cooking contests, auto races, and exhibits showcasing artifacts like the Liberty Bell and the first steam locomotive.
The buildings erected for the fair were designed to be temporary, so they were made of plaster and burlap and torn down after the event was over. One exception was the Palace of Fine Arts, which still sits on the fairground site.
Starting in 1912, city officials began to discuss whether San Francisco should follow in New York City's footsteps and turn its outer neighborhoods into boroughs. The idea continued to gain traction in the 1920s, but it never came to fruition.
Many soda shops around the city established speakeasies in back rooms. Two years after the nation went dry, San Francisco already had around 1,500 speakeasies.
The Ferry Building opened in 1898 and survived the 1906 earthquake. Its clock tower was designed after the Giralda, a 12th-century bell tower in Seville, Spain.
The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 and was quickly featured on the city's postcards. At the time of its opening, it was the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world, so its architect, Irving Morrow, thought it deserved a bold hue to match.
"The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the greatest monuments of all time," he wrote in 1935. "What has been thus played up in form should not be let down in color."
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the greatest monuments of all time, he wrote in 1935. What has been thus played up in form should not be let down in color.
The wharf had held fresh seafood stands since the early 1900s, but Geraldi's restaurant — called No. 9 Fishermen's Grotto — allowed patrons to sit down and enjoy some Dungeness crab.
By the 1950s, the pier was packed with restaurants. Tourist shops and attractions followed about a decade later.
Some alleys, like Downtown Bowl, came with 40 lanes and theater-style seats for spectators. They also featured cocktail lounges, soda fountains, and radio recording rooms. Today, there are only a handful of bowling alleys left in San Francisco.
A cartoon on a 1952 postcard jokingly advertised Alcatraz's "free room and board" and "no parking or traffic problems."
A cartoon on a 1952 postcard jokingly advertised Alcatraz's free room and board and no parking or traffic problems.
San Francisco unveiled its first cable-car line in 1873. The cars were eventually replaced by buses, which could travel up steeper inclines.
The city renovated its cable-car system in the 1980s. It was declared a national landmark in 1964.
The club featured jugglers, dancers, jazz musicians, and stand-up comics. By the 1960s, it was hosting legendary musicians like Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and Neil Diamond.
The tram was shut down after people reportedly got bored of the attraction. But the Cliff House has been restored and is still in operation.
The city was home to hippies, rock groups, and anti-war protesters.
It also became an epicenter for the Gay Liberation movement. San Francisco's Castro District was one of the first gay neighborhoods in the US. Politician Harvey Milk — the first openly gay elected official in California — ran his campaign headquarters out of a camera shop in the neighborhood.
Milk was assassinated at City Hall in 1978. Immediately after his death, a group of mourners marched with candles from City Hall to the Castro District.
San Francisco artist Butch Kardum came up with the idea to paint the homes in various pastel shades. Today, the homes on Steiner Street are known as "Postcard Row."
San Francisco artist Butch Kardum came up with the idea to paint the homes in various pastel shades. Today, the homes on Steiner Street are known as Postcard Row.