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What San Francisco looked like at the Turn of the 20th Century

As the 20th century began, San Francisco was a shining example of growth and success on the West Coast. The city was booming—more and more people were moving in, the economy was on the rise, and there was a lot of excitement about arts and culture. It felt like a time of new ideas and big changes, with San Francisco leading the way into the new century.

Growing Economy and City

In the early 1900s, San Francisco’s economy kept getting stronger and more diverse. The city’s port was super busy, and industries like manufacturing, banking, and services were growing fast. This boom helped the city expand, with new neighborhoods popping up everywhere to fit all the new people. San Francisco also made big improvements to its infrastructure, like making streetcar lines longer and improving public services, which made the city a better place to live and easier to get around in.

A Rich Cultural Scene and Social Progress

The city’s culture was thriving, too. San Francisco became a magnet for artists and performers from all over, with its theaters, opera houses, and art galleries buzzing with activity. The city’s mix of people from different backgrounds created an interesting cultural scene, with everything from Italian opera to Chinese theater and Irish pubs. At the same time, people were pushing for change, like better rights for workers and the right for women to vote, which was part of a bigger movement for social reform happening across the country.

The 1906 Earthquake

But then, in 1906, a massive earthquake hit the city. It was so strong that it destroyed a lot of San Francisco, killed hundreds of people, and left thousands without homes. It was a huge blow to the city, both physically and economically.

However, San Francisco didn’t give up. The city quickly started to rebuild, with a huge effort to not just fix what was broken but to make the city even better than before. They put new rules in place to make buildings safer and started big projects to rebuild the city.

By the end of the decade, San Francisco had made an incredible comeback. Landmarks like the new City Hall and the Public Library were symbols of the city’s recovery. And in 1915, San Francisco hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a big world fair that celebrated how far the city had come.

#1 De Young Building at Market, Geary, and Kearny streets, 1906

De Young Building at Market, Geary, and Kearny streets, 1906

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#2 Traffic on Kearny Street, circa 1909

Traffic on Kearny Street, circa 1909

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#3 Knights Templar decorations at Market, Kearny, Geary, and Third streets, September 1904

Knights Templar decorations at Market, Kearny, Geary, and Third streets, September 1904

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#4 “An interesting basement arcade,” at 609 Pine Street, San Francisco, California, March 1906

"An interesting basement arcade," at 609 Pine Street, San Francisco, California, March 1906

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#5 Knights Templar Nighttime decorations on Market Street, September 1904

Knights Templar Nighttime decorations on Market Street, September 1904

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#6 Kearny Street, north of Washington, August 1905

Kearny Street, north of Washington, August 1905

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#7 Traffic along Kearny Street, early 1900s

Traffic along Kearny Street, early 1900s

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#8 Grant Avenue, south of Geary Street, possibly April 18, 1906

Grant Avenue, south of Geary Street, possibly April 18, 1906

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#9 Building at the corner of Stockton and Sacramento streets, March 1906

Building at the corner of Stockton and Sacramento streets, March 1906

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#10 Building on Grant Avenue in Chinatown illuminated for the Portola Festival, 1909

Building on Grant Avenue in Chinatown illuminated for the Portola Festival, 1909

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#11 View of McAllister Street from the roof of John Swett School, 1909

View of McAllister Street from the roof of John Swett School, 1909

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#12 Knights Templar decorations at Market, Kearny, Geary, and Third streets, September 1904

Knights Templar decorations at Market, Kearny, Geary, and Third streets, September 1904

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#13 Market Street at the corner of Stockton, circa 1909

Market Street at the corner of Stockton, circa 1909

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#14 Knights Templar nighttime decorations at Market, Kearny, Geary, and Third streets, September 1904

Knights Templar nighttime decorations at Market, Kearny, Geary, and Third streets, September 1904

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#15 Powell at Market Street, 1909

Powell at Market Street, 1909

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#16 Tivoli Theater, November 8, 1949

Tivoli Theater, November 8, 1949

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#17 Market Street, east of Grant Avenue, September 9, 1900

Market Street, east of Grant Avenue, September 9, 1900

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#18 Market Street, 1904

Market Street, 1904

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#19 Ferry Building, 1900

Ferry Building, 1900

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#20 East side of Stockton, north from Pine Street, January 29, 1905

East side of Stockton, north from Pine Street, January 29, 1905

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#21 Mason Street North from Market, 1905

Mason Street North from Market, 1905

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#22 Track reconstruction on Haight Street, July 20, 1906

Track reconstruction on Haight Street, July 20, 1906

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#23 Market Street, looking towards the Ferry Building, 1900s

Market Street, looking towards the Ferry Building, 1900s

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#24 Pine Street, near Mason, 1906

Pine Street, near Mason, 1906

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#25 Market Street, 1904

Market Street, 1904

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#26 Southeast corner of Pine and Dupont Street (now Grant Avenue), 1905

Southeast corner of Pine and Dupont Street (now Grant Avenue), 1905

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#27 Ferry Building, 1908

Ferry Building, 1908

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#28 Mission Street, early 1900s

Mission Street, early 1900s

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#29 Market Street, circa 1900

Market Street, circa 1900

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#30 Mission Street, west of Third, circa 1909

Mission Street, west of Third, circa 1909

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#31 Fillmore Street, north from Ellis Street, early 1900s

Fillmore Street, north from Ellis Street, early 1900s

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#32 View from Twin Peaks, circa 1905

View from Twin Peaks, circa 1905

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#33 Kearny Street, March 31, 1906

Kearny Street, March 31, 1906

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#34 Van Ness Avenue, Pacific Cable, San Francisco, 1902

Van Ness Avenue, Pacific Cable, San Francisco, 1902

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#35 Line of horse-drawn wagons heading towards the San Francisco waterfront, circa 1900

Line of horse-drawn wagons heading towards the San Francisco waterfront, circa 1900

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#36 View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks, early 1900s

View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks, early 1900s

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#37 Market Street, 1908

Market Street, 1908

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#38 700 block of Grant Avenue, February 5, 1908

700 block of Grant Avenue, February 5, 1908

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#39 View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks, early 1900s

View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks, early 1900s

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#40 Ferry Building, San Francisco, California, 1901

Ferry Building, San Francisco, California, 1901

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#41 Nighttime decorations on Market Street, 1901

Nighttime decorations on Market Street, 1901

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#42 Market Street, near the Ferry Building, circa 1906

Market Street, near the Ferry Building, circa 1906

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#43 Geary and Kearny Streets at the time of the fire in 1906

Geary and Kearny Streets at the time of the fire in 1906

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#44 Group of children on Kearny, looking towards Market, uphill from Broadway, early 1900s

Group of children on Kearny, looking towards Market, uphill from Broadway, early 1900s

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#45 Pine Street, between Kearny and Dupont (now Grant Avenue), 1905

Pine Street, between Kearny and Dupont (now Grant Avenue), 1905

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#46 Stockton from Market Street, 1905

Stockton from Market Street, 1905

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#47 Ocean Beach from Cliff House, circa 1901

Ocean Beach from Cliff House, circa 1901

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#48 O’Farrell Street east of Stockton, circa 1908

O'Farrell Street east of Stockton, circa 1908

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#49 Market Street, circa 1900

Market Street, circa 1900

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#50 Market Street, looking west, circa 1901

Market Street, looking west, circa 1901

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#51 Ferry Building, 1900

Ferry Building, 1900

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#52 Ferry Building, possibly 1906 or 1907

Ferry Building, possibly 1906 or 1907

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#53 Cliff House, circa 1903

Cliff House, circa 1903

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#54 Stockton at the corner of Geary Street, March 29, 1905

Stockton at the corner of Geary Street, March 29, 1905

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#55 Ocean Beach, 1905

Ocean Beach, 1905

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#56 Crowd of people near streetcar at Market and Kearny streets, 1908

Crowd of people near streetcar at Market and Kearny streets, 1908

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#57 Pine Street, west of Dupont (now Grant Avenue), 1905

Pine Street, west of Dupont (now Grant Avenue), 1905

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#58 Montgomery at the corner of Post Street, October 3, 1905

Montgomery at the corner of Post Street, October 3, 1905

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#59 Market Street, east of Kearny, possibly 1900

Market Street, east of Kearny, possibly 1900

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#60 Cable car going downhill on Fillmore Street, possibly 1905

Cable car going downhill on Fillmore Street, possibly 1905

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#61 Track reconstruction at Haight and Stanyan streets, July 27, 1906

Track reconstruction at Haight and Stanyan streets, July 27, 1906

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#62 Fillmore Street, early 1900s

Fillmore Street, early 1900s

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#63 Clay Street, east of Pierce, circa 1908

Clay Street, east of Pierce, circa 1908

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#64 Kearny from Post Street, 1903

Kearny from Post Street, 1903

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#65 Fillmore south of Bush Street, circa 1908

Fillmore south of Bush Street, circa 1908

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#66 Market Street, early 1900s

Market Street, early 1900s

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#67 Montgomery Street, July 6, 1905

Montgomery Street, July 6, 1905

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#68 Track reconstruction on Haight Street near Stanyan, July 20, 1906

Track reconstruction on Haight Street near Stanyan, July 20, 1906

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#69 Kearny Street, early 1900s

Kearny Street, early 1900s

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#70 Market Street, east of Grant, at night, September 9, 1900

Market Street, east of Grant, at night, September 9, 1900

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#71 Telegraph Hill, possibly 1904

Telegraph Hill, possibly 1904

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#72 Streetcars and horse-drawn wagons in front of the Ferry Building, August 22, 1905

Streetcars and horse-drawn wagons in front of the Ferry Building, August 22, 1905

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#73 Kearny Street, 1905

Kearny Street, 1905

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#74 Van Ness Avenue looking north from Sutter Street, early 1900s

Van Ness Avenue looking north from Sutter Street, early 1900s

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#75 Montgomery Street, October 3, 1905

Montgomery Street, October 3, 1905

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#76 Ocean Beach, 1900s

Ocean Beach, 1900s

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#77 West of Broderick Street on Sacramento Street looking East, 1909

West of Broderick Street on Sacramento Street looking East, 1909

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#78 Market Street, 1905

Market Street, 1905

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#79 Van Ness Avenue and Sacramento Street, 1906

Van Ness Avenue and Sacramento Street, 1906

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#80 Montgomery Street at Market, 1903

Montgomery Street at Market, 1903

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#81 Pete Rielly and Eddie Campi selling newspapers in front of Abraham’s Pharmacy, 1198 McAllister Street, at Fillmore, 1909

Pete Rielly and Eddie Campi selling newspapers in front of Abraham's Pharmacy, 1198 McAllister Street, at Fillmore, 1909

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#82 Van Ness Avenue, circa 1906

Van Ness Avenue, circa 1906

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#83 Mission Street, between 1st and 2nd streets, March 29, 1905

Mission Street, between 1st and 2nd streets, March 29, 1905

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#84 San Francisco waterfront and Alcatraz Island, 1901

San Francisco waterfront and Alcatraz Island, 1901

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#85 Telegraph Hill, early 1900s

Telegraph Hill, early 1900s

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#86 Montgomery and Bush Street, April 4, 1906

Montgomery and Bush Street, April 4, 1906

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#87 Pine Street at Mason, looking southeast, 1909

Pine Street at Mason, looking southeast, 1909

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#88 Mission at 22nd Street, possibly 1905

Mission at 22nd Street, possibly 1905

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#89 Nighttime view of Knights of Pythias decorations and Spreckels Building on Market Street, 1900

Nighttime view of Knights of Pythias decorations and Spreckels Building on Market Street, 1900

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#90 O’Farrell Street east of Powell, 1909

O'Farrell Street east of Powell, 1909

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#91 Sacramento Street, looking west, July 3, 1905

Sacramento Street, looking west, July 3, 1905

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#92 Pacific Cable, 1902

Pacific Cable, 1902

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#93 Kearny Street, October 3, 1905

Kearny Street, October 3, 1905

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#94 Pine Street, 1905

Pine Street, 1905

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#95 Roberts Book Exchange located on the first floor of a building on Fillmore Street, 1904

Roberts Book Exchange located on the first floor of a building on Fillmore Street, 1904

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#96 Market Street at the Palace Hotel, 1904

Market Street at the Palace Hotel, 1904

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#97 O’Farrell Street, 1905

O'Farrell Street, 1905

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#98 Washington Irving School, April 5, 1948

Washington Irving School, April 5, 1948

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#99 Market Street at Powell, early 1900s

Market Street at Powell, early 1900s

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#100 Panorama of Glen Park looking southwest over Wilder Street to Glen Park School, 1900s

Panorama of Glen Park looking southwest over Wilder Street to Glen Park School, 1900s

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#101 Ferry Building under reconstruction to fix damage sustained in the earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906, 1906

Ferry Building under reconstruction to fix damage sustained in the earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906, 1906

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#102 Montgomery Street north from Pine, early 1900s

Montgomery Street north from Pine, early 1900s

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#103 Market Street at Mason, possibly 1904

Market Street at Mason, possibly 1904

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#104 Grant Avenue in Chinatown, early 1900s

Grant Avenue in Chinatown, early 1900s

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#105 562 Sutter Street, early 1900s

562 Sutter Street, early 1900s

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#106 Boats docked at San Francisco Waterfront, circa 1904

Boats docked at San Francisco Waterfront, circa 1904

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#107 View of San Francisco waterfront from Nob Hill, circa 1900

View of San Francisco waterfront from Nob Hill, circa 1900

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#108 Montgomery and Jackson Street, March 31, 1906

Montgomery and Jackson Street, March 31, 1906

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#109 Market Street, east of 8th Street, circa 1909

Market Street, east of 8th Street, circa 1909

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#110 Market Street, east of Grant Avenue, September 9, 1900

Market Street, east of Grant Avenue, September 9, 1900

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#111 Grant Avenue in Chinatown, 1902

Grant Avenue in Chinatown, 1902

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#112 Night illumination on Market Street, 1904

Night illumination on Market Street, 1904

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#113 Ocean Beach, circa 1905

Ocean Beach, circa 1905

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#114 View of Ferry Building from the bay, 1905

View of Ferry Building from the bay, 1905

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#115 O’Farrell Street east of Powell, February 6, 1905

O'Farrell Street east of Powell, February 6, 1905

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#116 Telegraph Hill from the waterfront, 1902

Telegraph Hill from the waterfront, 1902

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#117 Jack’s Inn, 1909

Jack's Inn, 1909

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#118 Crowds gathering on Ocean Beach, early 1900s

Crowds gathering on Ocean Beach, early 1900s

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#119 Kearny north from Market and Third Street, 1905

Kearny north from Market and Third Street, 1905

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#120 Hotel Taiyo at the corner of Buchanan and Sutter streets, early 1900s

Hotel Taiyo at the corner of Buchanan and Sutter streets, early 1900s

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#121 Market Street east of the Palace Hotel, 1901

Market Street east of the Palace Hotel, 1901

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#122 Powell Street, February 6, 1905

Powell Street, February 6, 1905

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#123 Mission Street, between Second and Third streets, possibly 1903

Mission Street, between Second and Third streets, possibly 1903

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What San Francisco looked like at the Turn of the 20th Century

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#124 Powell Street, from O’Farrell Street, possibly 1904 or 1905

Powell Street, from O'Farrell Street, possibly 1904 or 1905

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What San Francisco looked like at the Turn of the 20th Century

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#125 Ferry Building, circa 1904

Ferry Building, circa 1904

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What San Francisco looked like at the Turn of the 20th Century

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#126 Nighttime view of illuminated decorations on Market Street, near 5th Street, circa 1902

Nighttime view of illuminated decorations on Market Street, near 5th Street, circa 1902

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What San Francisco looked like at the Turn of the 20th Century

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#127 Elizabeth and Emilia in front of Glen Park Bakery, 1908

Elizabeth and Emilia in front of Glen Park Bakery, 1908

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What San Francisco looked like at the Turn of the 20th Century

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#128 Nighttime view of illuminated decorations on Market Street, looking east from the Phelan Building to the Ferry Building, 1909

Nighttime view of illuminated decorations on Market Street, looking east from the Phelan Building to the Ferry Building, 1909

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What San Francisco looked like at the Turn of the 20th Century

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#129 Helen’s father-in-law at Ingleside butcher shop, early 1900s

Helen's father-in-law at Ingleside butcher shop, early 1900s

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What San Francisco looked like at the Turn of the 20th Century

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#130 Below Telegraph Hill, circa 1902

Below Telegraph Hill, circa 1902

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What San Francisco looked like at the Turn of the 20th Century

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