Crazy, Beautiful, Detailed 1878 Map of San Francisco

vintage map

I love old maps. They’re so artistic and so impractical in helping you navigate.

This map of “The City of San Francisco, Birds Eye View from the Bay Looking South-West” drawn in 1878 by Charles R. Parsons is especially detailed and impressive.

For a little context: Victorian houses were starting to pop up around this time, and the city hit 300,000 in 1890 to become the eighth-largest city in the U.S. For a fun close-up look at the details, play around with the map here.

I was surprised by the number of boats. Did Parson include so many because he felt it more accurately represented the bay?

He does seem to have a slight obsession with boats. And for the record, Parsons was an artist and lithographer who was the head of the art department at Harper’s publishing firm.

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