SFMTA Photo Archive


The SFMTA Photo Archive holds one of the largest collections of historic images related to transportation in San Francisco. Comprised of images taken by photographers working for both private transit providers and the City of San Francisco, our photographic records document the history of transit in San Francisco back to 1903.

It is our mission to preserve these materials and make them available to the public as a resource. In 2018, SFMTA Photo Archive staff completed a project to digitize over 20,000 photos taken between 1903 and 1978 and make them available for historic research use on the SFMTA Photo Archive website.

In addition to scanning, cataloguing, and reformatting digital files for the web, all of the original materials including large format glass plate and film negatives, roll films, and prints were preserved with improved storage conditions to ensure that they last for many years to come.

We are currently working on multiple preservation and digitization projects to steward the long-term survival of and access to even more of our historic image resources. These projects include digitizing and rehousing photo negatives from 1978 to 2005 and digitizing motion pictures from the 1930s to 1980s.

Featured Fun

For San Francisco History Days 2020, the SFMTA Photo Archive is providing the following self-guided walking tours with mobile-friendly and printable instructions that showcases transit history in San Francisco.

Self-Guided Walking Tour

Learn more about the history of transit in the Castro neighborhood with this SFMTA Photo Archive self-guided walking tour highlighting the 40thAnniversary of the Muni Metro Subway. The tour takes about 30 minutes, cover just over one mile, and centers around the area near the intersection at Market and Castro Streets.

The self-guided tour is available as a PDF document. There are two versions, each with the exact same content, but with different formatting to give you options for optimal viewing. The standard size works best for most purposes, including printing or viewing as a downloaded PDF, while the narrow size was designed especially for mobile devices with a small screen. You may want to test both versions to determine which size works for you.

Waterfront Scavenger Hunt

This “ferries to fun” history scavenger hunt is for kids and kids-at-heart alike!  Take a trip down to San Francisco’s most famous clock tower for a search for hidden historical treasures. Can you find them all?