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15 Gorgeous Vintage Photos of San Francisco

By Sarah Purkrabek and Maggie Fuller

Oct 23, 2015

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An afternoon in Golden Gate Park in 1903

An afternoon in Golden Gate Park in 1903

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San Francisco may sit on the cutting edge of the tech scene, but it remains the epitome of old-school cool. Generations upon generations have left their hearts in San Francisco and it’s no surprise as to why. It’s a city that has always been fiercely proud of its history, its culture, and its style. Take a look back at these gorgeous vintage photos of San Francisco that show that, really, the city was just as gorgeous back then as it is today.

Your view of the water from San Francisco’s northern tip, the Presidio, was just as good in the ’40s as it is today.

We wish that all city buses were still awesome vintage cable cars like this one.

The Palace of Fine Arts is looking especially otherworldly in this black-and-white shot.

Two San Francisco icons in one: the Golden Gate Bridge, shrouded in the city’s famous thick fog.

…And a shot of the bay before the time of the Golden Gate.

Did you know that at one time there was a full-fledged amusement park called “Playland at The Beach” just steps away from the sands of Ocean Beach?

That’s right: circa 1900, Playland included such attractions as “The Big Dipper” and “The Chutes”—a water park at the edge of Golden Gate Park.

With the fog rolling in around the ever-elegant Cliff House, those long pants and skirts look like they’d actually be pretty comfortable beachwear.

Built of durable adobe in the 1700s, Mission Dolores Church survived even the infamous 1906 earthquake unscathed.

This photograph is proof that City Hall has always been just that majestic (the vintage cars only help its royal image).

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest outside of Asia—and to this day remains adorned with those hanging red lanterns.

North Beach has always been known for its espresso and Italian cuisine, even as far back as 1904, when the Bank of America (here in 1940) opened under its original name, the Bank of Italy.

Italian fishermen like these stylish gentlemen were responsible for San Francisco’s most iconic dish—cioppino.

That Fishermen’s Grotto sign has been standing tall over Fisherman’s Wharf for 80 years—and we won’t be surprised if it is still standing 80 years from now.

>>Next: 13 Stunning Vintage Photos of Paris

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