Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

A Model Neighborhood Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

4 February 2019

Once in a while it pays to visit the local branch of the public library. Last year, for example, we picked up eight free LED light bulbs there. Just for popping in. And the other day we got a peek at a 3D map of our neighborhood in 1938.

Forest Hill. Laguna Honda Hospital is the complex in the distance.

So naturally, we had to take a photo. It wasn't bright but it was natural light, so we opened the lens, focused on our neighborhood and snapped away.

Just one problem. Our house wasn't built until 1948. So there's just a big empty lot.

A lot of other buildings were not built yet either. The church is there (in the middle of the shot) but not the convent or the school.

David Ramsey has links to the digital version of the wooden map built by the Works Progress Administration. Beth LaBerge photographed the model pieces.

Ramsey describes the model:

Some details of the model's history: it is a 42 by 38 foot wooden replica of the city of San Francisco as it was in 1940 in 158 pieces at a scale of 1 inch to 100 feet. The pieces contain about 6,000 removable city blocks. The model was built by The Works Progress Administration in the late 1930s, under the New Deal. It was first displayed in sections in the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay in 1939. In 1940-1942 it was displayed in San Francisco City Hall. The model was used as an urban planning tool by San Francisco city agencies and departments through the 1960s. In 1968, the downtown portion of the model became a research and planning tool in the Environmental Simulation Laboratory in the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. The model has not been on public view, in its entirety, since 1942. UC Berkeley is the current owner of the model. The intent of the makers of the model was to have it updated as the city changed over time and they conceived of it as a tool to help understand and plan for changes in the city's built environment.

Each local branch of the San Francisco Public Library has the model piece for its neighborhood on display at the moment.

When the local exhibitions end in March, the hope is the whole model will be reassembled for public viewing at either City Hall, the Roberts Family Gallery at the new Howard Street entrance to SFMOMA or the Ferry Building.

You can read more about it in San Francisco Scale Model Finally Home After 77-Year Absence by Sam Whiting.

BackBack to Photo Corners