29 Vintage Photos Of San Francisco Before It Became The Center Of The Tech World

As more high-salaried tech workers move into San Francisco, the face of the city continues to evolve.

Photos taken in the 1940s and 1950s by amateur photographer Charles Cushman show a beautiful and diverse city, one that’s filled with gorgeous vistas, classic Victorian homes, and people from all walks of life.

The colourful photographs — among the first of their kind — are an amazing glimpse at a San Francisco of the not-so-distant past. 

These photos are being shared with permission from the Indiana University Archives.

Cushman snapped this photo of his car on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1938, one year after the bridge was completed. Cushman was an early user of Kodachrome, a revolutionary colour film developed by Kodak in the 1930s.

Cushman's photos have an extremely bright quality to them. Colour film was still in its elementary phases during the majority of his career.

Here, two women pose with the Bay Bridge.

In 1939, San Francisco hosted the Golden Gate International Exposition to celebrate the official opening of the city's two bridges. Engineers built a manmade island just for the occasion. Christened Treasure Island, the island was later redeveloped as a naval base and still exists today.

During the fair, a 40-acre fun zone called the 'Gayway' was host to a roller coaster, rocket ship, and other fun rides and shows.

Cushman's collection shows a great diversity of life in San Francisco. Before it became an attraction for tourists, Fisherman's Wharf was home base for immigrant Chinese and Italian workers, who would use small boats to catch crab and fish.

A man sleeps at the Embarcadero, south of Fisherman's Wharf.

Tourists and locals sun themselves at the Marina Green in 1940.

A view of Russian Hill beyond the wharf shows a quickly growing community.

Russian Hill -- as seen in this photo taken from Telegraph Hill -- was a large, bustling community by the 1940s.

Telegraph Hill also looked much like it does today.

Here's what a typical Telegraph Hill home might have looked like in 1940.

The Golden Gate makes at least a small appearance in much of Cushman's work.

There are few more classic San Francisco sights than a cable car making its way down a steep hill. Here, a California Street cable car stops for passengers at Grant Avenue in Chinatown.

Cable cars were a hot topic in the '40s and '50s, as during that time many local politicians launched efforts to ban them from the streets. The cable cars still survive today thanks to the efforts of a citizen committee and an overwhelmingly positive citywide vote.

Source: Wired

Cushman snapped a photo of the view down cable car tracks on Washington Street from the top of Nob Hill.

Children make their way on a steep sidewalk on Kearny Street.

You can see pretty much everything from the top of Twin Peaks, which stand at a 922-foot elevation in the center of San Francisco.

This is an amazing view of Nob Hill and the Financial District.

And here's a shot of some Victorian row houses on Jones Street near Pacific and Broadway.

Cushman spotted Alcatraz in this photo from 1955, when the island was still an active federal penitentiary.

Known as 'the Russell House,' this architecturally stunning home was built by Erich Mendelsohn between 1947 and 1952. It still stands in Presidio Heights today, though the wires have since been installed underground. Cushman called it 'the very last word in San Francisco dwellings.'

Source: Curbed

Chinatown is loud and colourful in Cushman's photos from 1952.

This is a view of the Castro from above, taken from the spot where 21st Street meets Noe Street.

Here's a row of colourful houses on 21st Street, west of Noe Street. Mark Zuckerberg is currently building a fortress-like home not far from this block.

Cushman got this view down Market Street in 1953. This would be an important corridor for commerce and, later, tech companies.

That same view looked even busier in 1957.

He captured a dramatic sunset in 1959.

Cushman himself poses with his 1940 Lincoln Zephyr and the Golden Gate Bridge in 1958.

Now see what Silicon Valley looked like back in the day.

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