Skip To Content
  • win badge

32 Stunning Photos Of San Francisco In The 40s And 50s

From Fred Lyon's San Francisco: Portrait of a City 1940 - 1960.

1. Photographer Fred Lyon, a San Francisco native, is now 90 years old.

2.

3. According to his online biography: "His nonstop career reaches back to the early 1940s and embraces news, fashion, architecture, advertising, wine and food."

4.

5. It goes on to say: "In the golden years of magazine publishing his picture credits were everywhere from Life to Vogue and beyond."

6.

7. In the 1940s and 50s most photography was still black and white (colour eclipsed monochrome by the 1960s).

8.

9. In an interview earlier this year, he said: "Early on, in the 1940s, I lived in Sausalito and daily crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, a dramatic steel sculpture in a theatrical setting."

10.

11. "The bridge, aided by my romantic and naïve world view, launched my lifelong affair with the city it serves."

12.

13. Ramekon O'Arwisters, who curated an exhibition of Lyon's photos, told Huffington Post: "Lyon witnessed and photographed the transformation of San Francisco into a center for optimism, posterity, and growth."

14.

15. "His black-and-white images of children playing on a makeshift boat and young sailors casually shopping at Fisherman's Wharf explore the idyllic past with hope and confidence."

16.

17. In the interview earlier this year, Lyon said: "Of course there are myriad changes."

18.

19. "There is still a backbone of wealthy Old Guard, but they are contrasted and challenged by young creatives and techies from Silicon Valley."

20.

21. "Still, the look of the landmarks is unchanged, as is the attitude of the people, who have always embraced the frontier view that daily risk is healthy."

22.

23. His work has been recognised by the city's former mayor, Willie Brown.

24.

25. In a contribution to the book, Brown wrote: "Call them picture postcards with an edge, with an angle, a point of view and some with a message."

26.

27. "Although Fred won't like me to use that word 'message.' He says he looks until he likes what he sees and then he pushes that button."

28.

29. "But followers of Fred's long photographic career note that he has been capturing the city's unique, sometimes strange, sometimes loopy, always exciting images for more than 60 years."

30.

31. Lyon's book is available here.

32.