San Francisco Aerial Views, August, 1938 - Digitized!

Once again David Rumsey is the San Francisco History Center's scanning angel! Thank you!

42. San Francisco Aerial Views, August, 1938

In August, the San Francisco History Center staff went on a field trip to visit the David Rumsey Map Collection.  We were all still excited from Rumsey's recent scanning contribution of San Francisco History Center's San Francisco Sanborn Insurance Maps, 1905. We explored Rumsey's maps as he shared how he became a map collector in the 1970s with a focus on 19th century North American maps.

As a  teaser, we brought with us a couple of aerial photographs from the San Francisco Aerial Views, August, 1938.  These aerials are very popular with building researchers and anyone interested in documenting change over time in San Francisco. Due to the original size of each print (50cm x 60cm), the San Francisco Public Library had not been able to scan each sheet. David Rumsey offered to scan the 164 black and white aerial photographs.
Two aerial sheets of Mission Bay
Our hosts showed us how the digitizing magic happens.

Practice shot with the overhead camera - built to photograph oversize maps

Go explore San Francisco Aerial Views, August, 1938! Some interesting discoveries include: cemetery tombstone debris in the Richmond District, a baseball game at Seals Stadium, and the Sunset District with a mixture of homes and sand dunes. Hint: the Index Map to the Location of the Aerial Photos at the beginning will guide you to individual sheets. When you zoom in on a sheet, you can see the street names and the details.

40. San Francisco Aerial Views, August, 1938


  1. These are great. My favorite is the streetcar line running at the extreme western end of Golden Gate Park.


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