Rare, unseen photos from the Chronicle's 'morgue' will make you see San Francisco in a new way

Posted on November 14, 2016 by UNITED PHOTO PRESS MAGAZINE

The cable car was invented in San Francisco in 1873, and was almost scrapped in the 40s. See how they were saved.
The San Francisco Chronicle's photo archives are extensive. They fill two rooms, and they take on the forms of photo, microfilm, negative, and old bound tomes. One can get lost down there. The archivists are very familiar with the extensive collection. If they don't know what exists, they know where it would be if it does.

Sometimes the story evolves when looking for something else. I discovered a folder, with a generic tag, and decided to take a look. Like many of you, I have a passion for San Francisco, and strive to uncover its past, and share that with you.

Sometimes the photos tell the story, as is the case here. I provided whatever information was found on the back of the photos, some of which are in fairly fragile condition. I was able to supplement some of the missing details, such as location, when I had the knowledge. Some of the photos were taken by staff. Others came from different sources. It's probably safe to say that many of the photos in the gallery have not been seen for decades.


Bob Bragman is a producer for SFGATE. His writing reflects his love of the Bay Area, in addition to his passion for vintage pop culture, ephemera and vernacular photographs.


The Ferry Building in San Francisco, ca. 1880.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Market Street horse car at Post and Montgomery Streets. A Valencia Street horse car paused on its way to Woodward's Gardens. This form of transportation was used from 1867 to 1906. courtesy of the Office of the Mayor.


Undated photo of Lotta's Fountain.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


This very early, undated photo was taken at Fillmore and Octavia Streets in San Francisco.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Cobblestone paved street in San Francisco,between Pine and California Streets on Taylor Street. n.d.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Southern Pacific Building in San Francisco, January 31, 1918.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


San Francisco, at the corner of 16th and Mission Streets, September 7, 1886. From the Wyland Stanley collection.


Downtown San Francisco, on Market Street in 1918. Call (Sprekels) Building seen in the background, towards the left side.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


5264 Turk Street, north from Eddy Street, in San Francisco. September 1907.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


From the caption on the back: "The present Market Street lamps, 1915 vintage, are heavily ornamented with historic scenes. This photo was taken November 9, 1956.
Photo: Duke Downey, San Francisco Chronicle


Undated Wyland Stanley photo, showing the Grand and Palace Hotels on Market Street in San Francisco. The sign painted on the side of a building says Easton & Eldridge Real Estate Agents & House Brokers and Pacific Coast Land Bureau, Vine, Fruit & Farm Lands.


Looking west from Montgomery Street in 1864.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Grand Hotel, San Francisco, Market Street front.. Undated Wyland Stanley photo.


Montgomery Street from Washington Street, San Francisco 1907.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Battery and Market Streets, San Francisco 1905. Some of the businesses are Meyer Brothers, J. Jacobs, Fleischman & Cleve, M. Goldstone & Sons, Friedman and Rogers, McNamara & Moran, Wendell Brothers and Sage - Iseley & Co.
Photo: Chronicle Archives


Undated photo showing Sacramento Street, west from Sansome Street in San Francisco.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Early undated photo, probably on Market Street in San Francisco. One sign says Patrick & Co. Rubber Stramps, Stencils. Possibly the same office supply company that exists today. Another sign amusingly says Fly Trap restaurant. If you know the location, you can post in the comments section, with the photo number.
Photo: Chronicle Archives


Market Street in San Francisco, all lit up as a Great White Way for the Golden Jubilee of the N.S.G.W, September 1900. The illuminated structure is the Call Building.
Photo: Chronicle Archives


Stamp on the back just says San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Department. The DeYoung Buildingl, home of the Chronicle, is on the left. The Examiner Building is on the right. n.d.
Photo: Photographer Unknown, San Francisco Chronicle


N. E. corner Grant Avenue and Market Street, San Francisco 1887. The back of the photo says "The Blythe Block, Dupont [now Grant] and Geary.
Photo: Chronicle Archives


Montgomery Street in San Francisco was a bustling center of activity in the 1890's. Trolley cars ran up the middle of the street and "sidewalk superintendents," lower right, were in vogue then as now. Courtesy of Wells Fargo Bank.


View from the Cosmopolitan Hotel looking north Telegraph Hill & Sansome Street in 1868.
Photo: Chronicle Archives


Preparing temporary business houses on Van Ness Avenue immediately after the 1906 earthquake and fire.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Church Street, Market Street, and Duboce Avenue, August 31, 1905. Courtesy of Society of California Pioneers.


O'Farrell Street in 1915. Shown on the right is the Orpheum Theater. Courtesy of the Office of the Mayor.


From the back of the image: Second Street (from Market) when favorite shipping thoroughfare for Dames and Debutantes of Rincon Hill & South Park, in San Francisco. n.d.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Scene down Market Street in San Francisco, in 1865, showing Goat Island and Tar Flat.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Taylor Street. unpaved, and Rev. Thomas K. Noble's Plymouth Church, near O'Farrell, the 1870's, looking north from Ellis Street, in San Francisco.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Sutter and Kearney Streets in San Francisco, ca. 1870.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Thomas Starr King Church on Geary, near south east corner of Union Square. n.d.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


The Lamplighter and the horse came back to Nob Hill on September 7, 1953, at dusk in commemoration of the gas era. It was part of the Pacific Coast Gas Association's 60th annual convention which was held at the Fairmount Hotel.
Photo: Ken McLaughlin, San Francisco Chronicle


Pine and Montgomery Streets, in San Francisco. n.d.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


Shown, the Clay Cable Car Line. n.d. Ran in the Sunday Punch on August 5, 1973.
Photo: Photographer Unknown


The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Ebenezer Church was located at 15th and Dolores Streets in San Francisco. It burned down in 1993. All that was left was one of the spires, that sat in the empty lot after the church was torn down. The parsonage, seen on the left, still stands today. The church was built by the Swedish architect, August Nordin. Construction started in late 1903 or early 1904, and was completed before the 1906 earthquake and fire, which it survived. This photo was taken December 19, 1953. By that time, it had become the First Southern Baptist Church, later known as Dolores Street Baptist Church. From the San Francisco Chronicle archives.
Photo: Photographer Unknown