Mapping The San Francisco of Yesteryear

Built with almost no regard for the hills that dominate its landscape, San Francisco’s grid like street layout and near vertical roads are unique in the world of cities. The “City by the Bay” really started growing after the California gold rush started booming in the late 1840’s, so by the time the gorgeous map featured here was made in 1912, the city looked remarkably like it does today. What was missing were many of the attractions the city is now best known for: noticeably absent is Pier 39 and the very crooked section of Lombard Street. Also yet to be built: the Golden Gate Bridge.

Created by lithographer August Chevalier, and boldly titled as such, this map was a later reworking of his first edition from 1903. The publishers statement at the bottom of the map reads:

“This Map is an Improved and Enlarged Edition of The Commercial Pictorial and Tourist Map of San Francisco Copyrighted Dec. 1903 by August Chevalier. Similar Maps For Other Cities in the U.S. Are Being Made.” “The Exposition City 1915″

The beautiful map features the cities many contour lines, all important buildings from the time and public improvements are detailed as vignettes. The map has now become available through for a very reasonable $26.90. They also offer a much more aged version here. To explore the map in extremely fine detail, head to the David Rumsey Map Collection.

Click here or the image below for a larger view:


Benjamin Starr

Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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  1. I assume this map was prepared in conjunction with the pan pacific int’l exposition which occurred in the same year. They’d want fancy maps to show off the city that, only nine years earlier, had been all but destroyed.

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