These two periodicals are rich in real estate and buildings history. Besides being great tools for researching specific properties, they're also fun to browse. The Real Estate Circular contains sales and mortgage listings, classified ads, and editorials and articles on topics such as street work, squatting, and the state of real estate in other cities. The California Architect and Building News lists building contracts with the owner, contractor, and architect, along with articles on things like leaky roofs, plastering, building news from other locales, and a description of the steel square (pictured below).
To access these publications on the Internet Archive, click on the links below:
San Francisco Real Estate Circular:
Jan.- Nov. 1868
Dec. 1868-May 1871
June 1871-May 1932
The California Architect & Building News:
Jan.-Oct. 1879 under its former title The Quarterly Architectural Review
Jan. 1880-Dec. 1881 under its former title The California Architect and Building Review
Jan. 1882-June 1899
If you're old-school and still prefer microfilm (this writer often enjoys the whir and flow of film), feel free to continue visiting in person on the 6th floor. We even have a few volumes of the Real Estate Circular in paper!
Image credits, from top: San Francisco Real Estate Circular, Aug. 1868; The California Architect and Building News, Sept. 1881 and Jan. 1882. San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.