The flamboyant ‘70s in San Francisco came in hot after the revolutionary hippies of the ‘60s. Drugs, crime and prostitution exploded, but the city also became a hub for counterculture groups and the LGBT community.

“Dirty Harry” enthusiasts should have felt lucky for living there at the time, while the tallest skyscraper in the city to this day, the Transamerica Pyramid, was constructed in 1972. Take a peek below into how the city by the bay looked up to 46 years ago.

Ocean Beach’s Playland Funhouse, 1972

san francisco 1-compressedPhoto: Outside Lands

Known as Chutes at the Beach until 1913, Playland was an amusement park along Ocean Beach with attractions such as Fun House (pictured). It included mirror mazes, spin dryers to squeeze through, a Joy Wheel (a flat wooden disc that spun kids off) and Moving Bridges (connected planks of wood that quickly moved up and down).

Playland’s demolition, 1972

san francisco 2-compressedPhoto: Outside Lands

Fun fact: Playland was the only place the It’s-It ice cream sandwich could be found for the first 40 years it existed. Playland was torn down on September 4th, 1972 after decades of declining success.

Indians of All Tribes group occupying the former prison at Alcatraz Island, 1970

san fran 70s 1Photo: Native Voices

In an attempt to reclaim Alcatraz Island, which they believed was theirs in accordance with the Treaty of Fort Laramie, the Indians of All Tribes collective occupied the island for 19 months until being removed by the US government.

The new Castro Street Muni Station at Market Street and Castro Street, July 1977

san fran 70s 2Photo: OpenSFHistory/wnp25.0033.jpg

The right side of this photo shows Twin Peaks only a few years after it opened in 1972. The establishment is reportedly the first openly gay bar in the US.

Expansive shot of residential Noe Street, June 1971

san fran 70s 3Photo: OpenSFHistory/wnp25.1897.jpg

Though what is pictured is a bit sleepier than the current Noe Street, you can still see the iconic Victorian houses that are an irrevocable part of the San Francisco aesthetic.

View of Corona Heights Park, March 1972

san fran 70s 4-compressedPhoto: OpenSFHistory/wnp25.1606.jpg

Still a primarily barren park, the top of Corona Heights offers up panoramic views of the city.

Aerial shot down North Beach’s Columbus Avenue, August 1974

san fran 70s 5Photo: OpenSFHistory/wnp25.0255.jpg

North Beach, also known as San Francisco’s Little Italy neighborhood, is known for its adorable Italian restaurants, City Lights bookstore and adult entertainment.

A misty ride down Washington Street, November 1971

san fran 70s 6Photo: OpenSFHistory/wnp14.1617.jpg

The last few years of California’s drought have seen a marked decrease in mist, rain and the quintessential San Francisco precipitation. Here, in 1971, the mist is still going strong.

Idyllic view down Dolores Street, October 1970

san fran 70s 7-compressedPhoto: OpenSFHistory/wnp25.1397.jpg

Nearby Dolores Park — originally a cemetery — is a historical landmark filled with lore. The enormous bronze bell stationed at the bottom was a gift from the Mexican government in 1966, and “Fixie Meadow,” the flat ground near the tennis courts, was originally leveled when the Barnum and Bailey Circus pitched a tent there in 1905.

Looking down on Union Square from the Westin St. Francis Tower, November 1977

san fran 70s 8Photo: OpenSFHistory/wnp25.1105.jpg

This photo looking down Union Square was taken from one of the Westin St. Francis towers, a hotel that survived the 1906 earthquake with little structural damage. It has hosted world leaders such as Queen Elizabeth II and Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

Powell Street and Market Street cable car turntable, July 1972

san fran 70s 9-compressedPhoto: OpenSFHistory/wnp25.1696.jpg

By 1972, travel by cable car had significantly declined, but this turntable at Market and Powell is a popular tourist spot even today.

Muni tracks being laid down on Market Street during BART construction, 1970

san fran 70s 10-compressedPhoto: OpenSFHistory/wnp14.1599.jpg

In a condensed city only 7 by 7 miles large, efficient public transportation is of the utmost importance.

Communities featured in this article

More articles like this