Vintage postcards of San Francisco reveal the city's early cable cars, amusement parks, and the 'Painted Ladies'

Ed Bierman/Flickr Vintage postcards of San Francisco from the last 150 years reveal the city's history from a unique perspective. The images show how San Francisco's population skyrocketed during the Gold Rush in 1848 then evolved to become a financial center and tourist destination. Postcards from the past also depict attractions and businesses that were once popular but have been lost to time. Visit Businessinsider.com for more stories. San Francisco is one of the most populous cities in the US, but it wasn't always that way. About 170 years ago, the city was relatively empty. Then the California Gold Rush led its population to balloon by a factor of 25 in a single year.  For the most part, the city has continued to grow ever since. Vintage postcards from the last century and a half showcase this evolution. While some of the city's celebrated attractions, like the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf, are still around, others depicted in postcards have been lost to time.  Take a look at the popular San Francisco sites printed on postcards during each decade.San Francisco was relatively uninhabited before the Gold Rush. In 1846, the city only had around 200 residents. Culture Club/Getty Images After gold was discovered in California in 1848, people from all over the world flocked to San Francisco. By 1852, the city's population had reached around 36,000. That led to a boom in the construction of new houses, buildings, and roads throughout the city. Starting in the 1850s, many Chinese citizens immigrated to the neighborhood now known as Chinatown. Culture Club/Getty Images The earliest Chinese immigrants to San Francisco were mostly men. Many of them opened shops and restaurants on Grant Avenue, which is still the center of the city's Chinatown.  By the turn of the 20th century, San Francisco was the largest city on the West Coast. It was also quickly becoming a hub for maritime trade. Rykoff Collection/Corbis/Getty Images The Golden Gate strait got its name in 1848 because it was considered a gateway to trade with Asia.    See the rest of the story at Business InsiderSee Also:Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg condemns inaction against the climate crisis in Los Angeles as wildfires rage across CaliforniaOver 1,500 California fires in the past 6 years — including the deadliest ever — were caused by one company: PG&E. Here's what it could have done but didn't.A Navy weapons station full of WWII-era ammunition bunkers could be transformed into 13,000 new homes in the Bay AreaSEE ALSO: Vintage photos of San Francisco reveal what the city looked like before the catastrophic 1906 earthquake — and how it compares to today