ART
Allison Leahy

Old SF's Interactive Map Displays San Francisco's History in Photographs

by , 09/09/11

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San Franciscans love their history. The city has established historical museums of all flavors to celebrate its pioneers and their contributions to civil society. Now, armchair travelers are invited to navigate San Francisco in a whole new way. Old SF has created an interactive map with over 13,000 historical photographs for your eyes to feast on!


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The images come from The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection’s two million photographs of which 40,000 have been painstakingly digitized for the San Francisco Public Libraries. Curators at the libraries have been scanning and uploading archived images including portraits, postcards, cabinet cards, stereoviews, and lantern slides based on popularity. The collection is searchable by subject or location, but after Google software engineer Dan Vanderkam came across a mislabeled photo he decided to take the database to the next level by geotagging each image with its cross street as a reference.

Though the website is not a San Francisco Public Library project, they are enthusiastic about it: “The idea for us is to get more content out there that people can create new things from,” photo curator Christina Moretta told The Bay Citizen.

Some of our favorite oldies are 1860s visions of the Old Cliff HouseMission Dolores, and this Panorama from California and Powell streets. Thanks to initial efforts by Dan Vanderkam and web designer Raven Keller, web surfers will be more inclined to discover and appreciate these cultural and architectural relics that date back to the days of the California Gold Rush.

If you’re an aspiring San Francisco history buff, Found SF is another great wiki that invites community members to share their unique stories, images and videos.

+ Old SF

Lead image © jcatbagan

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