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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Palace: 1920

The Palace: 1920

"Market Street, San Francisco, 1920." Starring the Palace Hotel and, rising behind, the Call Building. 8x10 glass negative. photographer unknown. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!

Let There Be Lights

Those extra-tall streetlights are actually historic landmarks, specifically "San Francisco Landmark #200 Path of Gold Light Standards." They're part of the City Beautiful movement of the early 1900s, meant to illuminate San Francisco's then-primary artery Market Street.

Initially installed in 1916, the poles' bases were designed by famed West Coast architect WIllis Polk and feature bas relief images of covered wagons, mountain lions, and alternating prospectors and Native Americans.

For more info on Path of Gold check out this page.

"The Roar of the Four"

The title is in reference to the constant stream of streetcars during the era of competition between the Municipal Railway and the Market Street Railway. Today the Muni has two surface tracks as well as two subterranean tracks at this location. Below them BART has its too tracks. Roar of the Six?

Gorgeous Inside and Out!

My husband and I were able to enjoy this grande dame hotel on a recent visit, and the interior spaces are as beautiful the streetscape. The Garden Court is an amazing space, I only wish we'd been there during the day to see the stained glass skylights.

Street Lights.

The reason the street lights are so high is they served dual purpose. If you look closely you can see where the catenary (trolley wire) is actually attached to them. This actually wasn't all that uncommon at one time, since it allowed the city to have its public transit system, and to hide the (usually) unsightly support poles. What's more, it also meant that you didn't have to clutter things up with a second set of poles for the lights themselves.

What's up?

Those are the tallest street lights/lamps I have ever seen. Can't imagine the purpose of putting them that high up, and maintenance must have been fun.

[They're still in use on Market Street, including at this very corner. -tterrace]

What is written

on the sidewalk at the bottom right.

[CROCKER SAFE DEPOSIT VAULTS. Camouflaged as manholes. - Dave]

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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