San Francisco Streets in the 1920s captured in Photos showcasing the era’s Urban Charm

The 1920s saw San Francisco’s street grid expand and evolve to accommodate the city’s growing population and economic activities. Key thoroughfares like Market Street solidified their status as commercial and cultural arteries, bustling with trams, automobiles, and pedestrians.

Neighborhoods such as the Marina District began to develop, offering picturesque views and stylish living to San Francisco’s burgeoning middle class. Meanwhile, Lombard Street’s famous crooked design was completed in 1922, becoming one of the city’s most iconic and photographed streets.

The Rise of Iconic Landmarks

Several landmarks that today define San Francisco’s skyline and cultural heritage either rose to prominence or were conceived. The planning and funding for Coit Tower, intended as a monument to the city’s firefighters, began, although its actual construction would be completed in the following decade. The Pacific Telephone Building, an Art Deco skyscraper completed in 1925, stood as the city’s tallest building for many years, symbolizing San Francisco’s growing economic might. Meanwhile, the Palace of Fine Arts, originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and rebuilt in the 1920s, became a favored spot for leisure and photography with its classical Greco-Roman columns and serene lagoon.

Architectural Renaissance

The 1920s in San Francisco were characterized by an architectural renaissance, with the emergence of Art Deco and the continuation of the Beaux-Arts movement. The sleek lines, geometric patterns, and innovative use of materials like terra cotta in buildings such as the Pacific Telephone Building exemplified the Art Deco movement’s influence. At the same time, the grandeur and symmetry of Beaux-Arts architecture, influenced by the City Beautiful movement, were visible in civic buildings and public spaces, aiming to inspire and elevate through design and form.

#1 Artillery Drill at Presidio, San Francisco in the 1890s

#10 Crocker Estate Co. Building on Market Street, 1924

#17 Whitney Building on Geary Street between Grant Avenue and Stockton Street, 1924

#22 View of San Francisco northwest from the Hall of Justice, 1921

#23 Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company building at 1045 Capp Street, 1928

#34 Mission Street between Lowell and Guttenberg, 1929

#35 Corner of Sutter Street and Grant Avenue in the 1920s

#36 Water cascading from Sutro Heights across from Ocean Beach, 1927

#39 View of downtown San Francisco looking southeast, 1923

#40 St. James Presbyterian Church, date not specified

#41 Corenson’s Shows, Diamond Jubilee, San Francisco, 1925

#48 Men at the intersection of Third and Bayshore Streets, 1929

#59 Lotta’s Fountain at Market and Geary Streets, 1927

#66 Detention building at Angel Island Immigration Station in the 1920s

#67 Chronicle Building on Market and Third Street in the 1920s

#69 Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company building at 444 Bush Street in the 1920s

#70 Aerial view of downtown San Francisco and waterfront, circa 1926

#72 View of California Street looking east from Gough, 1926

#73 Cable car construction on Sacramento Street, 1949

#76 View of San Francisco Bay from Telegraph Hill, 1928

#79 View of piers and shoreline towards the bay, 1927

#85 Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company building on 19th Avenue, 1926

#86 View of downtown overlooking Embarcadero in the 1920s

#89 Sacramento Street overlooking the bay in the 1940s

#99 Hospital at Angel Island immigration station, 1928

#106 View of the Presidio and San Francisco Bay, 1899

#109 Main Library and Civic Center Plaza between 1925 and 1926

#110 Downtown San Francisco northwest view with Alcatraz in distance in the 1920s

#111 Cars on the Embarcadero near Ferry Building, 1920

#112 View of San Francisco east from the Hall of Justice, 1921

#115 View of California Street looking west, circa 1920

#124 Sacramento between Mason and Powell Streets, 1928

#127 Looking north from Sacramento and Drumm Streets, circa 1924

#130 Market between 5th and Powell Street in the mid-1920s

#133 Downtown San Francisco with Yerba Buena Island and bay in the 1920s

#136 View of the shoreline, including piers 18 through 22, from the bay, circa 1924

#152 Downtown San Francisco view with Yerba Buena Island and bay in the 1920s

#154 Aerial view of the Western Addition district, 1927

#157 View of San Francisco northeast from the Hall of Justice, 1921

#163 Administration building at Angel Island immigration station, 1928

#165 Looking down Powell Street from Fairmont Hotel, 1924

#166 Mission Street at Ocean Avenue in Excelsior District, 1929

#171 Harrison Street looking southwest from 2nd Street, 1928

#174 Ocean Boulevard and surf from Sutro Heights in the 1920s

#176 California Street between Kearny and Montgomery looking east in the 1920s

#179 View down Kearny Street from near Columbus looking south, 1922

#181 View of San Francisco southwest from the Hall of Justice, 1921

#183 Man next to parked car on Fillmore Street hill, 1922

#184 Lotta’s Fountain at Market Street near Kearny and Geary looking east in the 1920s

#185 Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company building, circa 1927

#190 Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company building at Bush and Larkin streets, 1928

#191 Policeman directing traffic at Mission and 4th streets, 1925

#192 Castro Street south from 29th to 30th streets, circa 1927

#193 States Street looking east towards Castro Street, 1927

#195 Interior of Matsuya Store on Post and Buchanan Streets, between 1920 and 1929

#196 Class and patients of Calleo California College of Chiropody, between 1920 and 1925

#197 C.A. Anderson Funeral Home on Valencia Street, circa 1920

#199 House on Steiner Street that survived 1906 earthquake, between 1940 and 1945

#207 Partial view of the docks in San Francisco in the 1920s

#208 Crowded Ocean Beach near Cliff House, circa 1921

#211 View of waterfront northwest from the bay in the 1920s

#213 Proposed Route of Way Van Ness Avenue Extension from Roof near Howard and 13th Street, 1921

#214 Sacramento Street looking downtown from Presidio Avenue, 1944

#215 Four people in a parked car at Marina Yacht Harbor, 1929

#216 Bush Street looking east from Kearny, circa 1924

#217 Crowd around Cable Car accident at California Street and Sansome, 1925

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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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