The 1940s and 50s saw the end of the deprivation of World War II. There was a great nationwide sigh of relief. Optimism was rampant, as much of the population entered the peacetime workplace in new roles. The promise of new ventures, new technology, and new materials was heady stuff for young people, even for wary oldsters. Meanwhile, San Francisco reveled in its role of Gateway to the Pacific, with shipping and the rebuilding of an ocean travel fleet. It all felt like New Year’s Eve.
For a young photographer, it was an intoxicating time. The bay, the bridges, and the City, with its steep hills, fog, and cable cars were a delicious kaleidoscope parading before the lens of Fred Lyon. Curiosity and passion for the impressionism of nature drove him on, barely ever letting the camera cool.
This is Fred Lyon's passionate love letter to the City of his birth, bursting with the energy and affection that has driven him to photograph the City by the Bay nonstop for over seventy years. Graphically strong black-and-white images, characteristic of mid-century photography, reveal a vibrant city at a time when street cars ruled Market Street, the port of San Francisco was humming, and hats were de rigueur.
The range of subjects is startling in breadth and depth. It’s the story of a treasure hunt through thousands of negatives untouched since their creation. There are surprises at every turn, from humor to pathos, with lots of side trips.