This 1978 Photo of San Francisco’s North Beach Neighborhood Is Full of Nostalgia

This recently discovered historical photo, taken on Kodachrome film and scanned by my company Gado Images, shows the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco as it appeared in 1978.

The photo shows a Powell and Market cable car traveling down Taylor Street near the intersection of Water Street, with two other cable cars visible in the background. We also see parked cars along the street, including a bright orange Volkswagen Beetle.

The Beetle has become iconic of San Francisco, especially during the time period shown, so seeing one parked along the road feels like the perfect SF touch for this historical photo. Also visible are some of San Francisco’s Victorian homes, and an advertisement on the cable car for a local hotel reading “Meet me at the St. Francis.”

Here’s how the scene looks today.

The same intersection. The apartment building on the right side of the picture is the most recognizable landmark between this and the 1978 photo.
Photo via Google Streetview

Several of the buildings are still present — as are those iconic cable cars!

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.


  1. Mason crosses water street. We’re around the corner. Edwardians are prevalent here rather than Victorians. My sis had an orange VW like that there but not as early as 1978. In some ways the neighborhood has changed a lot. In other ways not so much. Great photo. Thanks.

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