Northern San Francisco Bay, 1894

Northern San Francisco Bay, 1894

San Francisco Landsat image 2013
San Francisco map 1894

Maps often convey our relationship to the world. In this map of the northern San Francisco Bay and surrounding environs, the early development of the region is recorded in detail. The full and arduous title of this map is “Map showing portions of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, city and county of San Francisco, California, carefully compiled from official and private maps, surveys and data.”

This map can be described as a cadastral map—a map showing ownership of the land. As you look eastward from Oakland, names and organizations are associated with tracks of land—“Wm. H. Glascock,” “Pfeiffer Tract,” “Alameda Water Company,” “Kate King,” “Crocker Est. Co.,” etc.

Across the Bay, the city of San Francisco is merely a fraction of its modern-day size. Market Street clearly defines the north-south street grid of what today is Downtown and the Financial District with the southwest-northeast grid pattern of the South of Market section of the city. (Market Street is also easily spotted in this 1868 Bird’s Eye view of San Francisco.)

By 1894, when this map was made, San Francisco had already transformed from a Spanish Mission and Mexican Ranchero “little community” visited mainly by trappers to a bustling gold boomtown receiving a thousand immigrants per week in 1849 and then into an established metropolis (sometimes referred to as the Paris of the West) striving for municipal infrastructure improvements and often stymied by machine politics.

What is striking when comparing the street grid of 1894 San Francisco to the natural color Landsat 8 image acquired on August 23, 2013 is the small portion of the peninsula that the city covered then compared to its extent today. The city was also much harder to reach. In 1894, the city could only be visited by sea or by a long land journey around the southernmost portion of the Bay. Today, the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge (not to mention the Bay Area Rapid Transit’s transbay tubes) easily convey people and goods into the city of San Francisco.

On the Landsat image, white and grey areas are dense development. During the intervening century between the map’s creation and the Landsat image, the named land parcels were subdivided and developed as the region’s population marched steadily westward across the San Francisco peninsula and eastward into the foothills of Alameda County, becoming more connected with each passing year.


+ download large 1894 map
+ download large Landsat 8 image


References:

Library of Congress, “Map showing portions of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, city and county of San Francisco, California, carefully compiled from official and private maps, surveys and data” Visited 19 Dec. 2013

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco “From the 1820s to the Gold Rush” Visited 19 Dec. 2013.

SFist, “San Francisco, ‘the Paris of the West’” Visited 19 Dec. 2013.
Wikipedia, “History of San Francisco.” Visited 19 Dec. 2013

Images created using Landsat 8 OLI bands 4,3,2 The images were collected August 13, 2013. Images by Mike Taylor using Landsat data available from the USGS archive. Caption by Laura Rocchio.

 

On Key

Related Posts

1911 USGS map

Creating an Oasis in the Desert: Lake Havasu City, Arizona, 1911

Humans have modified the landscape of Planet Earth in many ways. This modification is nothing new—it began as the earliest humans began burning of local grasslands to encourage new growth, tilling the soil for the first agricultural experiments, and building small dams to ensure a water source. Yet today’s changes are more frequent and also larger in area, from the construction of cities, reservoirs, and tunnels, to widespread land use change through the conversion of the natural land cover to cropland, grazing pastures, mining sites, and other uses.

Read More »
Cape Cod map 1885

Cape Cod, 1885

The sandy peninsula of Cape Cod, Massachusetts juts into the Atlantic Ocean with its characteristic crook and twirl in both images: “Balloon View–Nantucket to Boston” made in 1885, and a Landsat 8 satellite image made 129 years later in 2014. Aspirations to rise above the Earth and to record the Earth’s surface from there are a long-standing theme of human culture.

Read More »
New York map 1860

New York City, 1860

New York City in 1860 was thriving for some of the same reasons the city thrives today. The city’s location was then, and is now, central for the movement of people and freight to and from Europe and elsewhere. Waterways were the primary transportation pathways in 1860. New York’s deep and well-connected port, nearer to the ocean than the ports of other cities on the East coast of the United States, was a huge boon to shipping. The Hudson River connected New York City’s port to a wide gateway westward through the Erie Canal to Lake Erie and beyond. Europe sent and received goods and people across the Atlantic Ocean to New York. Cities on the Great Lakes could enjoy the benefits of shipping to and from Europe, completely by water!

Read More »
No more posts to show
On Key

Related Posts

1911 USGS map

Creating an Oasis in the Desert: Lake Havasu City, Arizona, 1911

Humans have modified the landscape of Planet Earth in many ways. This modification is nothing new—it began as the earliest humans began burning of local grasslands to encourage new growth, tilling the soil for the first agricultural experiments, and building small dams to ensure a water source. Yet today’s changes are more frequent and also larger in area, from the construction of cities, reservoirs, and tunnels, to widespread land use change through the conversion of the natural land cover to cropland, grazing pastures, mining sites, and other uses.

Read More »
No more posts to show