San Francisco, Portrait of a City: 1940-1960
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With a landmark around every corner and a picture perfect view atop every hill, San Francisco might be the world's most picturesque city. And yet, the Golden City is so much more than postcard vistas. It's a town alive with history, culture, and a palpable sense of grandeur best captured by a man known as San Francisco's Brassai. Walking the city's foggy streets, the fourth-generation San Franciscan captures the local's view in dramatic black-and-white photos— from fog-drenched mornings in North Beach and cable cars on Market Street to moody night shots of Coit Tower and the twists and turns of Lombard Street. In San Francisco, Portrait of a City 1940–1960, Fred Lyon captures the iconic landscapes and one-of-a-kind personalities that transformed the city by the bay into a legend. Lyon's anecdotes and personal remembrances, including sly portraits of San Francisco characters such as writer Herb Caen, painters Richard Diebenkorn and Jean Varda, and madame and former mayor of Sausalito Sally Stanford add an artist's first-hand view to this portrait of a classic American city.
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A tanker heads out to sea through the Golden Gate. Crab fishermen haul up a trap outside the Golden Gate. Ship’s rudder frames Islais Creek in fog. Fisherman’s Wharf, crabs fresh from the sidewalk cauldron. Unloading an imported car from a freighter on the Embarcadero. Freighter moored near the Bay Bridge. The San Francisco skyline from Sausalito’s Hurricane Gulch. Embarcadero coffee shop The Embarcadero stretches along San Francisco’s eastern waterfront and was once the focus of massive
Beach. Chinatown butcher shop. Chinatown produce shop. Chinatown cowboys. A Sunday trip to the Fleishhacker Zoo. Secrets behind the fence, Sausalito. Bocce ball players, Aquatic Park. Sidewalk produce vendor, Chinatown. Italian butcher shop, North Beach. Lion dancers, Chinese New Year, Grant Avenue. Union Square flower stand in front of the posh store I. Magnin. North Beach, looking up towards Telegraph Hill. Tin Wah Noodle Company, Chinatown. Cable car at the foot of Market Street,
relieved only by the dramatic descent of fog over the city’s hills. For the fresh eye of a young photographer like myself, it was an intoxicating kaleidoscope. But first, I had to get there. After the war, I too was caught up in the restless spirit of the times. I wound up my Navy Press service as a news photographer in Washington, DC and began to redirect my career toward fashion photography in New York. And then, a quick visit to San Francisco stretched into months. To avoid embarrassment, I
friendship. San Francisco has spawned so many superlatives that they gloss over scores of maddening aspects of daily life here. Yet on average the population would defend the town against all comers. Sure, there’s the self-satisfied old guard noted for its comfortable stuffiness. But while that’s always been true, it’s been offset by waves of ravenous creatives in business and the arts. After all, this is still the American frontier, the jumping off point for all levels of gamblers and