09/04/2012 07:43 pm ET Updated Sep 05, 2012

San Francisco Tenderloin History: Old Images Shed Light On The City's Underdog Neighborhood (PHOTOS)

When one thinks of the Tenderloin, the notoriously gritty center cut of San Francisco, a number of not-so-pleasant images come to mind.

Maybe it's the rampant homelessness that plagues almost every block. Or individuals smoking crack in broad daylight. Or that drug operation that moonlighted as a corner store. Or the neverending slew of muggings and break-ins and petty crime.

But there's so much more to the neighborhood that borders both downtown San Francisco and City Hall. Hidden in the secret corners of the Tenderloin are an endless array of local gems, from community-painted murals and vibrant performing arts centers to innovative pop-up shops and some of the best food west of the Bay.

And the area boasts a colorful past as well. Rife with speakeasies, theaters, jazz clubs and a seemingly endless influx of immigrants throughout the past century, the Tenderloin embodies some of San Francisco's richest history.

The San Francisco Public Library's History Center provided The Huffington Post with an exclusive glimpse into the 40-block neighborhood with 17 never-before-seen images spanning from 1939 to 1964. There's the Black Hawk, the infamous bar that was raided in 1961 for violating liquor laws. There's the Bank of America circa mid-century, when the behemoth financial institution was just another local bank. There's bars and diners and shops and, of course, a nostalgic dose of automobiles and fashion.

Check out the snapshots below to take a trip through a slice of long-forgotten San Francisco:

25 Years Of The Tenderloin (1939-1964)

This collection is part of a new HuffPost SF partnership with the San Francisco Public Library's History Center, "Tales From The City," which features various images from throughout the city's past. Visit the San Francisco History Center in person to view original photographic prints and negatives as well as tour other relics from SF's earlier days.