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Archival Photos From San Francisco’s Stormy, Flooded Past

Written by Morgan EllisPublished Jan. 04, 2023 • 2:22pm
Cars wade through flood waters, due to heavy rains, at the intersection of Market, Church and 14th streets in San Francisco on Apr. 4, 1941. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library

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As Wednesday’s storm continues to brew, San Francisco and the Bay Area are bracing for what could be historically significant impacts brought on by extreme rain and heavy winds.

But this week’s onslaught would not be the first, nor will it likely be the last, time the Bay Area has experienced flooding, home destruction and other consequences of Mother Nature.

Archival photos from the 1930s through the 1950s show San Francisco’s residents wading through flooded streets, crowds of umbrellas and even children making the most out of rainwater at a local park.

Take a look at SF’s stormy history:

Steiner Street in San Francisco was closed off due to mud and floods during a storm on Feb. 14, 1936. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library
Heavy flooding followed a storm at Market and Church streets in San Francisco on Jan. 21, 1941. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library
A massive sinkhole at 34th Avenue and Wawona Street in San Francisco was caused by heavy rain on Jan. 22, 1941. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library
Cars wade through flood waters, due to heavy rains, at the intersection of Market, Church and 14th streets in San Francisco on Apr. 4, 1941. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library
Frank Kelley, director of the Columbia Park Boys Club, and Ray Kimball work on a ceiling leak following a heavy rain on Oct. 29, 1941. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library
A Foerster Street landslide followed a big rain in San Francisco on Feb. 6, 1942. | San Francisco Department of Public Works
Pedestrians walk through the rain during a storm at the intersection of Stockton, Ellis, and Market streets in San Francisco on Dec. 31, 1943. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library
Pedestrians walk through the rain during a storm at Powell Street on Mar. 24, 1945. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library
Pedestrians walk in the rain on Market Street in San Francisco on Dec. 4, 1950. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library
Children play in a flooded playground at Upper Noe Valley in San Francisco following a heavy rain on Nov. 12, 1951. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library
A motorized cable car acts as a taxi during a flood following a storm in San Rafael, Calif. on Dec. 8, 1952. | San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library

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Morgan Ellis can be reached at [email protected]


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