Explore a Photographic History of San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County, seen from a parking lot near Fort Point on the San Francisco side, c. 1950s. (Credit: William Rauum Photographic Archive)

Travel

In his seminal masterpiece On the roadJack Kerouac writes: “It seemed like a matter of minutes when we started rolling through the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretching out before us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on its eleven mystical hills with the blue of the Pacific. and its advancing wall of potato mist beyond, and the smoke and golden color of late afternoon weather.

The city is a space worthy of his frenetic praise prose. In this city at the end of the earth, America seems to put its last fanfare. Its history and history seem palpable. Though fog sweeps torches and trenchcoats like the noir detective novels of yore, the bars of the Bay Area still bask in liberation, and the Golden Gate Bridge remains the unchanging numen that presides over everything.

This sense of grandeur is perhaps the reason why he enjoyed beautiful prose so much. John Steinbeck offered the following love letter: “The afternoon sun painted her white and gold, rising upon her hills like a noble city in a happy dream. A city on hills has it on flat places. New York does its own hills with crane-like buildings, but that golden and white acropolis rising wave upon wave against the blue of the Pacific sky was an amazing thing, a thing painted like a picture of a medieval Italian city that didn’t could ever exist.

There’s a sense of nostalgia in San Francisco, whether you’ve been there before or not. It is the pink eyes of romanticism that highlight the reminiscence and contentment of its comfort that allows one to revel in it. Thus, it always seems appropriate to delve into one’s own past and delve beyond the curtain of the cobbled acropolis. This is exactly what the beautiful publication Taschen, San Francisco: portrait of a cityprovides.

“Beginning with an early photo of a gang of badass gold diggers who put this beautiful Northern California city on the map,” Taschen List explains, “this ambitious and immersive photographic history of San Francisco takes a tour winding through the city from the middle of the 19th century to the present day.

You can explore a brief glimpse of this historic journey below with images that capture 1960s swing bands like Big Brother & The Holding Company, quirky cult acts like The Residents playing with iconic sets and a simple sense of style. history of coffee growing.

All these images are from Taschen San Francisco: portrait of a city. You can find out more and get your own copy by clicking here.

San Francisco: Portrait of a city:

The Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County, seen from a parking lot near Fort Point on the San Francisco side, c. 1950s. (Credit: William Rauum Photographic Archive)
Passengers crammed into one of the cable cars that served Washington and Jackson streets in Pacific Heights. Cars were much more used by commuters than tourists in the mid-20th century, 1947. (Max Yavno © Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona Foundation)
Overnight at Seal Rock Drive in Lands End, a few blocks above the Sutro Baths and Seal Rocks in the ocean near Cliff House. In a city famous for its fog, this area is one of the foggiest, 1953. Fred Lyon (Credit: Courtesy Of Peter Fetterman Gallery.)
Credit: Photo by Bob Willoughby/Redferns via Getty
Spectators at Mayor George Moscone’s funeral, held at St. Mary’s Cathedral near Geary and Gough Streets. Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk were murdered at City Hall by a disgruntled former member of the SF Supervisory Board, 1978. (Michael Jang)
The Residents, one of the most eccentric bands in recorded music history, pose near the Golden Gate Bridge. Creating all sorts of disturbing and dissonant blends of avant-garde sounds, the members of the San Francisco band are unknown, 1978. (Credit: Homer Flynn)
Couple at the Coffee Gallery. On Grant Avenue, a few blocks from the City Lights bookstore, it has hosted readings by great local poets like Bob Kaufman and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. In the early 1960s, a then-unknown Janis Joplin performed there in 1960. (2021 Imogen Cunningham Trust)
(Credit: Taschen)

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Michael E. Marquez