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What San Francisco Looked like in the 1910s: Exploring the City’s History through Amazing Historic Photos

In the 1910s, San Francisco was all about bouncing back and growing stronger after the huge earthquake and fires of 1906. This time was all about the city coming together to rebuild everything from buildings to the community’s spirit. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, San Francisco started to shine again as a big and important city in America.

Right after the disaster, San Francisco was busy with construction and getting its economy moving again. The city improved its infrastructure a lot, making sure new buildings were safer and could stand up to earthquakes in the future. The new Civic Center, with its government buildings and the new City Hall, was a big symbol of the city’s comeback. The Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 was a huge deal, showing off San Francisco’s recovery to the whole world. It brought in millions of visitors and put the city back on the map as a cultural and business hub.

The Big Fair of 1915

The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition was a world fair that celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and San Francisco’s comeback from the 1906 earthquake. The fair covered a huge area and had amazing buildings like the Palace of Fine Arts. It was a key moment for the city, boosting the economy and lifting everyone’s spirits. The fair was all about showing off new technology, cultural displays, and art, and it brought over 18 million people to the city.

A Time of Cultural Growth and Social Change

The 1910s were also a great time for culture in San Francisco. The arts, literature, and music scenes were thriving, helped by the city’s diverse population. Neighborhoods like Chinatown, North Beach, and the Mission District were lively places full of different cultures, foods, and social life. This decade also saw important social changes, like women in California getting the right to vote in 1911, before the rest of the country. There were also a lot of labor movements and strikes, showing that not everything was perfect in the city’s recovery.

World War I Changes Things

While the decade was mostly about growth and development, World War I starting in 1914 brought new challenges. San Francisco became an important place for sending troops and supplies for the war, showing its military importance. The war affected the city’s European immigrant communities and changed some of the city’s focus for a while.

The 1910s were big for technological progress in San Francisco, especially in transportation. The opening of the Twin Peaks Tunnel in 1918 made it easier to travel across the city and helped San Francisco grow even more. Cars started to change the city, too, leading to new roads and plans for future bridges like the famous Golden Gate Bridge.

#2 Pioneer Monument, looking south from City Hall Avenue, in the 1910s.

#3 Armistice Day celebrations at Market and 6th Street, 1918.

#4 Ferry Building, San Francisco, California, circa 1915.

#7 Intersection of Market Street and Grant Avenue, circa 1914.

#11 The Turf concert hall on the corner of Montgomery and Pacific streets in the Barbary Coast district, early 20th century.

#13 Streetcars in front of the Ferry Building in the 1910s.

#15 C. R. Lawson inspecting a damaged storefront at 614 Clay Street, 1926.

#16 Liberty Bell parade in Civic Center, November 1915.

#17 Busy nighttime street scene on Pacific Street in the Barbary Coast district, 1913.

#23 Fillmore Street between Pine and California, looking south, September 1911.

#24 West of Broderick Street on Sacramento Street looking East, February 1913.

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

#31 East on Market from 4th Street, early 20th century.

#34 Spectators watching a hot air balloon at the Civic Center in the 1910s.

#37 View of San Francisco Waterfront from Telegraph Hill in the 1910s.

#38 View of San Francisco waterfront from Telegraph Hill, 1918.

#42 Crowd at unknown event in Union Square, circa 1910.

#45 View of downtown from Pine and Montgomery Street, 1912.

#46 O’Farrell Street east of Stockton, early 20th century.

#49 500 block of Pacific Street in the Barbary Coast district, mid-1910s.

#50 Intersection of Sutter, Sansome, and Market Streets, March 28, 1910.

#51 Fillmore Street, looking north to Sutter Street, circa 1916.

#52 Presidio and California Street, looking west, September 11, 1912.

#53 Exterior of the Hippodrome nightclub on Pacific Street in the Barbary Coast district, early 20th century.

#57 Nightclubs on Pacific Street in the Barbary Coast district, circa 1909.

#58 North east corner of Sacramento and Montgomery Street, April 1918.

#60 The Channel – San Francisco Harbor, California, 1914.

#63 Howard Street Terminus at Ferry, looking north, December 30, 1912.

#64 View of Grant Avenue looking north from O’Farrell Street, 1910.

#65 An outdoor dance production in Berkeley, in the 1910s.

#69 Vehicles parked in front of the Ferry Building in the 1910s.

#70 Volunteers Monument on Market Street and Van Ness Avenue, early 20th century.

#72 San Francisco waterfront east of 16th Street in the 1910s.

#76 Bush Street between Grant Avenue and Kearny, in the 1910s.

#77 Kearny Street, north from Market Street, in the 1910s.

#80 Kearny Street, north from Market Street, in the 1910s.

#81 I. Magnin’s department store on Geary Street from Grant Avenue, in the 1910s.

#83 Fillmore and Union streets, looking north, December 30, 1912.

#85 Pedestrians crossing Kearny Street at Market, 1910.

#86 Truck going up Fillmore Street hill in the 1910s.

#89 View of San Francisco waterfront from the bay in the 1910s.

#90 Bush Street between Grant Avenue and Kearny in the 1910s.

#93 Railroad tracks on seawall at foot of Beale Street, near Pier 34, 1911.

#96 View of the Ferry Building from the bay, circa 1910.

#98 Post Street, looking west from Kearny, in the 1910s.

#100 Verona Hotel at the corner of Third between Verona and Folsom streets, 1919.

#101 Horse-drawn carriages in front of the Ferry Building, circa 1915.

#103 Side view of Main Library exterior in the 1910s.

#108 Naval landing at Third and Berry streets in the 1910s.

#110 View of McAllister Street from the roof of John Swett School, 1912.

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Written by Kevin Clark

Kevin Clark is a historian and writer who is passionate about sharing the stories and significance behind historical photos. He loves to explore hidden histories and cultural contexts behind the images, providing a unique insight into the past.

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