Tuesday, October 19, 2021

San Francisco Before Colonization

Hidden San Francisco is an interactive map which reveals how San Francisco looked before it was colonized by Spanish missionaries in the late 18th century. The map displays the city's historical creeks and natural habitats which have long been destroyed or hidden by the development of one of America's most densely built urban environments.

In order to determine the location of San Francisco's historical creeks and natural habitats Hidden San Francisco used a number of different sources. This historical and ecological detective work included scouring the city's earliest surveys and oldest geological maps. Early written descriptions made by the Spanish missionaries who arrived in the area in the 18th Century were also consulted for their accounts of the natural landscape. Early photographs also proved useful in revealing details about the vegetation and natural habitats which existed in parts of the city before its urban development. 

Hidden San Francisco reminds me a lot of the Welikia Project's Beyond Manhatta map. This interactive map displays Manhattan Island and its native wildlife, as it would have looked in 1609. The map allows you to explore New York's original natural landscape of hills, valleys, forests, wetlands, salt marshes, beaches, springs, ponds and streams.

Like the Hidden San Francisco map Beyond Manhatta was developed by consulting the earliest historical maps which described the original features of Manhattan Island. Historical environmental conditions were also determined by taking soil surveys and examining tree rings. These surveys were reinforced by early historical accounts of New York, that were consulted for descriptions of the natural environment which existed before the city's development.

Unfortunately the Beyond Manhatta map is another project which has fallen foul of the increase in Google Maps API charges and the interactive map is now peppered with and partly obscured by ugly 'For Development Purposes Only' labels.

No comments: