About Kerri

Kerri, an enthusiastic public historian and native San Franciscan, is Historypin's Project Officer for Year of the Bay.

Year of the Bay: A Trip Down Market Street (1906)

For those of you who have not seen the short film “A Trip Down Market Street,” we’d like to share this fascinating bit of time travel into San Francisco’s past. For those of you have, well, this insight into every day life in a pre-1906 quake city never really gets old.

The film depicts Market Street in San Francisco, with the Miles Brothers’ camera crew carrying the scene from their studio at 1139 Market Street (between 8th and 9th St.) all the way to the Ferry Building on the San Francisco Bay. Men and ladies in hats, horses and carts, streetcars, and automobiles all share a busy thoroughfare where traffic laws are a thing of the future. Rick Prelinger, film archivist and historian, owns the sharpest copies of the film, and because of this we are able to see 1906 with stunning clarity.

A still-frame from the film demonstrating the hustle and bustle of people, cars, and carts sharing the street.

But the film was not always thought to depict 1906. Over the past few years this film has gained much media attention, thanks in part to some detective work from silent film historian David Kiehn. The Library of Congress originally dated the film to 1905, but Kiehn thought otherwise and did some extensive research into the matter. Inspecting every detail, he used the presence of puddles in the film as a bid to look up weather information around 1905, and used the position of the sun among other things to eventually date the film to sometime around late 1905 to early 1906. More research using microfilms at the San Francisco Public Library, license plate research, and much more, eventually led to him confirming the film date as on or around April 12, days before the big quake.

More compelling is that the devastation on April 18, 1906 would have incinerated this film as well, had the Miles Brothers not shipped the footage off to New York only a day earlier. The film now has even more significance in how it captures a calm before the storm, a scene of every day life before the city would change forever.

We’ve pinned this film to our Year of the Bay project and overlaid it onto Street View, so you can compare then and now. We are excited to add this fascinating bit of city and film history to our Year of the Bay archive on Historypin. View the film on Historypin and share your thoughts on this piece of time travel.

"A Trip Down Market Street" overlaid onto Google Street View on Historypin.

Year of the Bay: Inner Sunset Photos and Mysteries from the San Francisco Public Library

800 Irving St., 1949. From the History Room at the San Francisco Public Library.

This week our friends at the San Francisco Public Library contributed another great set of neighborhood photos to our Year of the Bay archive, featuring the Inner Sunset District. Those familiar with this area, developed after 1887 by real estate investors (prior to this the area was all sand dunes), know very well that the “Sunset District” has little to do with sunshine and all to do with that famous San Francisco fog. Today, in a rapidly developing city, the area still manages to retain the feeling of a small town, with plenty of mom-and-pop diners, drug stores, and grocery stores.

The San Francisco Public Library’s photo set of the Inner Sunset captures these kinds of small businesses that make the area so beloved by locals, mostly during the period between 1946-1952.

Billing's Dime Store near 10th and Irving, c.1946-52.

Most of the Inner Sunset photos have been Street Viewed as well, and you can view these by clicking on the "Street View" tab of the pin's dialog box.

Some of the SFPL's Inner Sunset photographs as date mysteries. Login to your free Historypin account, and press the "Solve" button next to the photo you'd like to make a guess at.

Many of these photos still need exact dates, and we’d love for you to leave your comments and suggestions to the photos in our Mysteries section of the project. Here are some quick tips for adding your guesses to these Inner Sunset mysteries:

  1. Go to yearofthebay.org and at the top right, log in with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. If you don’t have a Historypin account, create one for free!
  2. Back at www.yearofthebay.org, hit the “Mysteries” tab (default tab is “Map”).
  3. On the left side, select Show me: Unsolved mysteries (also the default), and scroll down the list of Inner Sunset mysteries (among others). If you want to see mysteries that other people have already commented on, tick Show Me: Under investigation on the left bar.
  4. Choose a photo from the list you want to help solve, and press Solve.
  5. The interface will prompt you to enter a new date. Once you make your suggestion, you will be able to enter in why you’ve made the choice you have.
  6. That’s it!  Because this is a beta tool (which is to say we’re still working on it to make it better), if anything weird happens, feel free to comment on this blog post, or fill out this easy form to let us know what happened.

If you don’t want to help solve mysteries, we’d still love to see your comments! Explore all of the SFPL’s recent Inner Sunset photos in our project on Historypin, and all of the library’s photos to date on their profile.

 

Year of the Bay: Help Add Information to These Mid-Market Photographs From the San Francisco Public Library

The Mid-Market neighborhood of San Francisco, featuring the now demolished Granada Theater, 1922. From The San Francisco Public Library

Today The Bold Italic published another wonderful photo essay featuring Year of the Bay pins from our friends at the San Francisco Public Library, part of our monthly collaboration with the popular local San Francisco magazine to feature photographs of the city’s neightborhoods. This month feature’s San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood, at the heard of the city’s downtown.

The Mid-Market neighborhood, also called Central Market, encompasses parts of the city’s Tenderloin, South of Market (SoMa), and Civic Center districts. Completely leveled after San Francisco’s devastating 1906 earthquake and fire, the area has since been known for its gritty and colorful character, and as the subject of many redevelopment plans and battles against gentrification. The wonderful photos from San Francisco Public Library show Mid-Market’s transformation over the last half of the 20th century, with the presence of now long-gone department stores, theaters, and shops.

The Regal Theater at 1046 Market St. Pinned by the SFPL to Year of the Bay.

We’ve mapped out these photos, and the SFPL asks that you help overlay them onto their modern-day locations and leave comments using our mystery-solving tools. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Go to yearofthebay.org and at the top right, log in with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. If you don’t have a Historypin account, create one for free!
  2. Back at www.yearofthebay.org, scroll down until you see the Mysteries Tab (default).
  3. On the left side, select Show me: Unsolved mysteries (also the default), and scroll down the list of Mid-Market mysteries (among others). If you want to see mysteries that other people have already commented on, tick Show Me: Under investigation on the left bar.
  4. Choose a photo from the list you want to help solve, and press Solve.
  5. Depending on what kind of mystery it is, the interface will prompt you to either enter a new date, find a new location, or overlay a photo onto Street View. Once you make your suggestion, you will be able to enter in why you’ve made the choice you have.
  6. That’s it!  Because this is a beta tool (which is to say we’re still working on it to make it better), if anything weird happens, feel free to comment on this blog post, or fill out this easy form to let us know what happened.

SFPL Mid-Market photographs, mapped out in Year of the Bay under the tag "mid-market." Click the image to explore the map.

Read The Bold Italic’s post featuring SFPL’s Mid-Market photos here, and visit the Year of the Bay project page to start overlaying the photos onto their modern-day locations and to leave comments. Don’t forget to share your mystery-solving skills with your friends!

Guest Post: Local Bay Area Photographer Lynne Buckner Shares Her Bayview/Hunter’s Point Story For Year of the Bay

An abandoned home in Hunter's Point Shipyard in San Francisco, 2004. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

We’re excited to share this great contribution from local Bay Area photographer Lynne Buckner, part of our Year of the Bay project. Lynne, a resident of the Bernal Heights neighborhood in San Francisco, pinned her photos and story of visiting the now ghost-like Hunter’s Point shipyard in San Francisco, once a commercial shipyard established in the 1870s and subsequently a naval base. The now desolate area, on the shores of the San Francisco Bay, is currently in the midst of a large redevelopment plan that will ultimately include up to 1,600 homes, 27% to 40% of which will be affordable, and 26 acres of open space. In 2004, Lynne created a set of photos of all the the shipyard houses front and back, as well as some interiors of the houses that were torn down to create the new housing area in what is known as parcel A.

Abandoned Japanese-style house on Innes St., Parcel A, 2004. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

She shares her experience here:

“In 2004 I was taking photo classes at CCSF. I was attracted to ghost towns and abandoned buildings and cabins and was looking for something I could photograph without traveling to the desert. I ended up in the industrial areas of Bayview Hunters Point. I really loved Hunters Point Shipyard, and used to go early on weekend mornings saying I was visiting an artist friend who had a studio. I would then drive around and photograph the buildings of the shipyard.  After being busted one too many times, I went to Lennar Corporation and asked permission. They granted me permission to photograph in “parcel A”, an abandoned neighborhood on a hill that I had no idea existed.  There was some talk of Lennar buying the photographs but that never worked out because I was developing and printing the pictures myself and the price seemed too high to them and too low to me. I was just happy to have my own private ghost town to wander around in when I pleased. I spent as much time there as I could and really felt that I was preserving a bit of overlooked San Francisco history.

Interior of a Natoma St. house, 2004. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

Rail lines to Hunter's Point Shipyard, 2003. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

I was devastated when, after a few months, the neighborhood was demolished. It was very disturbing that efforts to salvage building materials and antique fixtures appeared to be minimal. I was grateful to have salvaged some light fixtures, road signs, knobs, 2 sinks and a medicine cabinet some of which I have in my remodeled bathroom.  The demolition of this local ghost town seemed an apt metaphor for what was happening to the analog photography I was doing and, more broadly my life as a woman over 50.

As the years have passed, my pass to enter the Shipyard was stolen out of my car and I now go only twice a year when the Shipyard is open for Open Studios.  I walk up to the housing site late in the day and photograph the progress on the new housing project. On a recent photo trip, I noted that building has started on what looks like townhouses or an apartment buildings. I’m hoping that someday the new inhabitants will be interested in what their neighborhood once looked like and enjoy imagining their link to the history of the area.”

——

All of Lynne’s photos were developed in her own darkroom, and we are happy that they have traveled from the darkroom onto Historypin. This is a nice snapshot into how one person experiences the life on the rapidly changing Bay waterfront, and a great addition to our Year of the Bay archive.

Explore more of Lynne’s photo pins on her Channel. If you’d like to contribute a guest piece to our blog about your experience around the San Francisco Bay, contact Kerri at kerri.young@wearewhatwedo.org.

Bay Area Resident José Vadi Shares His Father’s Memories of a East Harlem Home Now Lost.

Firefighters from FDNY help to contain the building collapse at Park Avenue in East Harlem, March 12, 2014. Photo from FDNY.

Around 9:30 am on March 12, 2014, two buildings once standing by 116th Street and Park Avenue in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood were gone, leveled by an explosion from an apparent gas leak. Residents of East Harlem, also called Spanish Harlem and El Barrio, are still mourning the blast that killed 8 and injured over 50, and several community efforts continue to help rebuild the local neighborhood and help those affected.

In the wake of this tragedy comes this insightful guest blog from José Vadi, a writer and performer based in Oakland, CA and founder of the youth storytelling Off/Page Project. Before the collapse, José took the opportunity to capture his father on film revisiting his old East Harlem apartment—one of the buildings lost to the gas explosion. José kindly shared this family memory with us and pinned the video to his Channel, giving his story an even greater sense of place and the change the neighborhood has undergone. Here is what José had to say about sharing his father’s memories on Historypin:

I think it’s important to visualize the before and after of our city’s architectural landscape, especially after such tragic events as those that happened this month in East Harlem. It also helps recognize Uptown’s position in the context of Manhattan and New York at large, and how that sense of feeling removed and alone permeates my father’s memory of a building so filled with life, its underbelly, and the people who comprise its day to day.

The video on (a still yet-to-be-updated) Street View for some perspective of what the street and building looked like right before the collapse (click to view on Historypin).

Below is José’s story behind his bid to revisit the past with his father, an insightful piece called What Happens After a Collapse (also posted on Colorlines)?:

On March 12, 2014, my father forwarded a New York Times article with the headline “At Least 2 Killed in East Harlem Building Collapse.” A brief note from my Dad followed:

Dear Friends, This is the building where I grew up until I was 22 years old (1646 Park Avenue, apartment 7). If those walls could speak! They would tell a tale of immense suffering with small periods of joy.

Growing up, my sister and I heard stories about East Harlem every day from our dad. Tales of unscrupulous landlords. Our abusive grandfather. Stories of newly arrived Puerto Rican squatters filling his apartment to the brim, toiling in the family-owned bodega and the years it stole from my grandmother. My father would describe coughing up soot in the morning, filling shoe soles with cardboard, fighting Italian gangs on the way to school, and singing du-wop in his school hallways. For these reasons, I always associated New York as a place to overcome and leave, instead of a place to live and settle.

I read the article on my phone riding on BART between Oakland and San Francisco and was shocked to hear about the explosion and subsequent collapse of 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue, two neighboring tenements off 116th Street that shared an eastern view with the elevated Metro North line. To date, eight people have died despite rescue efforts to find trapped and missing residents. But in the context of what I know about my father’s life, this was the last of many remaining threads connecting him to the neighborhood he calls home, slowly eroding with every passing year.

I called my dad that night from the kitchen table in my studio apartment. As my elbows rested on the faux wood grain, I remembered my father earned his undergraduate diploma from CCNY – the “poor man’s Harvard” —using an ironing board for a desk until the age of 22. I asked him how he felt about hearing the news. He breathed a heavy sigh. “First, the neighborhood went away – La Marketa’s no longer there, 125th Street’s a mall, the people are all gone. Now, my building’s collapsed. I really don’t have a home anymore. I have no connection to my city anymore, my neighborhood. I’m totally uprooted.”

A photo of José's father with his ironing board, which he used as a desk until the age of 22. This photo was taken at José's grandmother's old house in Aguada, Puerto Rico a few years ago by family friend Daniel Perez.

In February 2010, my father, who lives in Los Angeles, went to New York for the first time since the early ’80s to participate in a lifetime achievement ceremony for East Harlem community activist Rev. Norman Eddy. Rev. Eddy hired my father at the age of 18 to be the director of housing relocation for the Metro North Citizens’ Committee. The program worked heavily along 100th Street, temporarily relocating tenants so that their homes could be refurbished while maintaining their original exteriors. This was Eddy’s attempt to prevent the community plight and disruption currently associated with gentrification and rising rents. His plan lead to cooperative ownership of buildings among tenants, to them having a stake of ownership within their East Harlem community.

Before the collapse, I wanted to document the stories I heard growing up as a kid, no matter how painful for my dad or myself. The goal was to visit 1646 Park Avenue, Apartment 7. I borrowed a FlipCam from my friend, and asked another to film my Dad and me together in his old neighborhood, for the first time. It snowed that day. Still, my father’s pace quickened as he walked across his former neighborhood pointing out where along La Marketa previously existed; his technique for selling shopping bags to patrons for five cents; the high school formerly named after Benjamin Franklin where my father trained for the Millrose Games; where he ran laps inside the hallways during the winter. He showed me the top of the subway stairs where he and his brother would fist fight with the other shoe shine boys, desperate to catch a customer. My pops noted the racial divides by block between Puerto Ricans and Italians along 3rd Avenue and the sewer caps on 117th Street that served as a stickball diamond for their ragtag neighborhood gang. I knew if I ever had the opportunity to walk alongside my dad down the streets where he grew up, I’d go along. I wanted to feel as close as possible to the trajectory that somehow lead to my own existence, starting at its root: 116 and Park.

The fragility of human life was apparent for quite tragic reasons after the collapse, yet I was grateful to have taken the opportunity to have filmed my father in a place he once called home. I wonder now if any of those whose lives were taken last week were living in the building while we were filming; if their stories could have been told to preserve, to share what went untold in homes whose exteriors never truly represent what’s held inside.

When a building falls, do those stories ever die?

I wonder whether Eddy’s plans of cooperative, resident-owned housing would fly in today’s New York economy. I wonder how you preserve a bruise while healing from the original blow? And what of those few moments of joy my father described, how do they shine through a building that to my father’s recollection is a recurring travel through a thorn-lined Babel? And of whatever walls are built in the wake of these building’s collapse, I wonder if future generations will know their true history and who laid the first foundation of East Harlem.

Project Officers Max and Kerri go to the 2014 National Council on Public History

Check-in table at the Monterey Conference Center in Monterey, CA.

Hello from Max Baumgarten and Kerri Young, Project Officers at Historypin, here to tell you about our experience at the 2014 National Council on Public History conference in Monterey, California last week:

This year’s National Council on Public History conference was held in Monterey, California, which lucky for us, is only a two-hour drive from the Historypin office in San Francisco. Taking a day-long road trip from San Francisco to Monterey gave us the opportunity to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, snack on salt water taffy, and, of course, learn about some new and exciting developments and projects in the field of public history.

Touristy shops near the activities at the Monterey Conference Center.

With projects like Sourdough & Rye, Year of the Bay, Europeana 1989, Historypin is constantly trying to engage with history in an effort to cultivate communities and create local connections. This year’s NCPH conference—with its theme of Sustainable Public History—was the ideal place to learn about other projects with similar goals. That is, the desire to preserve historical resources while still aiming to meet the needs of the present and future.

Cover of this year's NCPH program.

Some fun activities we engaged in included some speed networking, a panel exploring the teaching of sustainability through digital Los Angeles, talking with local history vendors in the exhibit hall, and attending a panel on an oral history endeavor here in the Bay Area from the National Park Service and UC Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO).

The panel Crowdsourcing and Public History: Reports from the Field was particularly insightful. Anthea Hartig of the California Historical Society talked about their collaboration with Historypin for their exhibit Curating the Bay: Crowdsourcing a New Environmental History. As many may have read about from us, this exhibit incorporated our Year of the Bay project in the form of a touch screen and pinning station, the latter for visitors to bring in their Bay Area memories to scan into the project. The exhibit itself asked visitors to help solve some Bay history mysteries, and in conjunction with this Historypin rolled out our mystery-solving interface for the first time. From the perspective of the California Historical Society, the power of Historypin lies in our layered sense of place, and its ability to let users travel back in time. Visitors had fun exploring contributed memories within the exhibit on the touch screen, though they were also more comfortable contributing their own memories at home rather than bring in photos to a pinning station. Other thoughts from Anthea included the success in utilizing the SF Chronicle to post history mysteries (with the photos also pinned to Year of the Bay), the relative ease in tracking Historypin site activity through Google Analytics, and the fact that most interaction with CHS photos occurred over social media (including mysteries). Overall (and we agree), it was a hard sell asking people to bring in photos physically to scan onto our website, even with a Project Officer stationed there; the project’s success relies on building trust from both individuals and institutions before they can contribute, and this takes many months after the project launch to gain traction (and more than the couple of months the exhibit was open).

Anthea Hartig of the California Historical Society introducing findings from working with Historypin's Year of the Bay project.

Kerri at the Curating the Bay pinning station in the California Historical Society this past summer.

Rebecca Federman from the New York Public Library’s talked about the menu transcribing project, What’s on the Menu?; so far, volunteers have helped to transcribe over 17,000 historic menus, helping to track food trends over time. Crowdsourcing the history of lunch certainly brought out food enthusiasts to help, as well as community groups and individuals. Hiring interns to do outreach over social media, designing a simple interface, creating simple how-to’s, and getting rid of registration were and are all crucial to the project’s success, though a lack of the latter makes it harder to track the user base. Creating more targeted events to do this, as well as thinking about how the project can be transferred over for researchers in the future were some thoughts for moving forward.

Lorraine McConaghy from the Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry spoke about her ambitious efforts to crowdsource Civil War history in the state of Washington, so local residents could participate in the ongoing national discussion about the war in the Pacific Northwest and its meaning. Some lessons learned was that the project needed a more streamlined process for dealing with the tech involved, that it needed more volunteers or interns to answer daily inquiries, more training days for the public, and that the facilitators underestimated how much editing they would need to maintain consistency. However, the project gained about 150 solid readers to analyze Civil War texts; the appeal lay in the fact that what they were exploring was not known before about the Civil War in the Pacific Northwest, and that participants found out lots of new information only obtained through deep reading.

Rebecca Federman talking about the New York Public Library's "What's on the Menu?" crowdsourcing project.

While each of these wonderful crowdsourcing projects have adopted distinct approaches to crowdsourcing history, they collectively see public engagement as a key strategy for creating and making accessible new kinds of history. Engagement in these projects are what makes them successful; a comment, suggestion, or annotation can make all the difference in measuring a project’s success. For us at Historypin, there is always much to learn on the crowdsourcing front, and being able to connect and learn from others who are using similar or different approaches is invaluable.

Overall, this was a very insightful trip and a great national gathering, and we met many public historians doing great work. We hope to see you at the next one!

-Max Baumgarten and Kerri Young

Browse the full program of this year’s NCPH conference, and don’t forget that you can still contribute your memories and solve some history mysteries in our Year of the Bay project.

Year of the Bay: The Bold Italic Photo Essay Featuring SF Public Library pins

Help us overlay this image onto Street View: Divisadero Street, south of Oak Street, on July 21, 1940. Historic Photo Collection, San Francisco Public Library.

Today The Bold Italic published a wonderful photo essay featuring Year of the Bay pins from our friends at the San Francisco Public Library, another fruitful collaboration between Historypin and the popular local San Francisco magazine. The photos, pinned to the Year of the Bay especially for this spread, feature San Francisco’s rapidly-changing Western Addition neighborhood. The SFPL asks that you have fun overlaying these photos onto their modern-day locations using our mystery-solving tools:

SFPL's Western Addition mysteries on our Year of the Bay project page.

Scroll through these current “Mysteries” on the Year of the Bay project page, as well as some past SF neighborhood ones. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Go to yearofthebay.org and at the top right, log in with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. If you don’t have a Historypin account, create one for free!
  2. Back at www.yearofthebay.org, scroll down until you see the Mysteries Tab (default).
  3. On the left side, select Show me: Unsolved mysteries (also the default), and scroll down the list of Western Addition mysteries (among others). If you want to see mysteries that other people have already commented on, tick Show Me: Under investigation on the left bar.
  4. Choose a photo from the list you want to help solve, and press Solve.
  5. Depending on what kind of mystery it is, the interface will prompt you to either enter a new date, find a new location, or overlay a photo onto Street View. Once you make your suggestion, you will be able to enter in why you’ve made the choice you have.
  6. That’s it!  Because this is a beta tool (which is to say we’re still working on it to make it better), if anything weird happens, feel free to comment on this blog post, or fill out this easy form to let us know what happened.

Read The Bold Italic’s post featuring SFPL’s Western Addition photos here, and visit the Year of the Bay project page to start overlaying the photos onto their modern-day locations. Don’t forget to share your mystery-solving skills with your friends!

Bay Motion Contest Entries from the Oakland Museum of California

Oakland Harbor at Sunset, Getty Images.

The great folks over at the Oakland Museum of California recently uploaded a bunch of video mashups into our Year of the Bay project which you can now check out. The videos, in conjunction with the museum’s Bay Motion exhibit, are contest entries asking members of the public to submit a video interpretation of their relationship to the San Francisco Bay. Those entering the “Bay Motion Contest” had the option to use their own home videos, or to remix footage from the wonderful Prelinger Archives, a collection of over 60,000 “ephemeral” (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films.

"A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire," 1906. Archival footage from the Prelinger Archives.

Rick Prelinger in the archival vault. Photo by Megan Prelinger.

The Bay Motion mashup contest continues the theme of the the exhibit itself, exploring how the San Francisco Bay and the surrounding region “was captured by amateur, professional and industrial camera people.” The museum received entries from a wide range of locals, from middle school students to working individuals. Here are some observations from the contest screening a few weeks ago, from the Oakland Museum’s champion Historypinner Robert Fahey:

“…it was a great atmosphere and everyone enjoyed the many different types of videos screened. The judges also greatly enjoyed each video and loved the experience of having them all screened and enjoyed/watched together. Rick Prelinger also made an appearance since his wife, Megan, was one of the judges. They both expressed how much it meant to them to see people creatively taking from the Prelinger Archives and and turn it into something of their own.”

Here are the entries from winners Solomon Kamara and CB Smith-Dahl:

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Solomon and CB with their Adobe Creative Suite prizes at the Museum.

These videos are great creative materials for our Year of the Bay project, and an an example of the ways you can contribute your San Francisco Bay story to Historypin. Watch the rest of these great contest entries on the Oakland Museum’s Channel, and click “Pin Your Memories” on www.yearofthebay.org to submit your own photos or videos of how you experience the Bay.

Celebrating the Opening of the Golden Gate International Exposition in Year of the Bay

Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) on Treasure Island in 1939, the colorful world’s fair held to mark the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge in San Francisco. An important event in the history of the San Francisco Bay, we are celebrating the fair in our Year of the Bay project by sharing some lovely images contributed by individuals and institutions.

Aerial over San Francisco looking towards the Bay Bridge and GGIE on Treasure Island, 1939 (San Diego Air and Space Archives).

Treasure Island, an island built just for the occasion, juts out in the middle of the San Francisco Bay between the City and Oakland. With the Bay Area’s two famous bridges just completed, the GGIE and Treasure Island proclaimed to the world that San Francisco was resilient enough to create a Disneyland-like wonderland in the midst of the Great Depression. As with many of the famous world fairs of yesteryear, the GGIE of 1939 featured many peculiar attractions, such as an automobile racetrack for monkeys, a Western town with little people in cowboy costumes, and Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch. Elaborate architectural buildings, corny historical pageants, technological innovations, and plenty of good old-fashioned amusement-park fun and games were also what you could expect to enjoy at the exhibition.

Today, with most of the exhibition buildings gone, Treasure Island is an unassuming flat piece of land jutting out from Yerba Buena Island in the Bay and it is easy to drive by without noticing it. But at the time of the exhibition, it was a grand fairground and world destination. Here are some great images from this event mapped out in our project, from those such as the San Francisco Chronicle Archives and more:

Constructing the Elephant Towers at the GGIE with San Francisco in the background, Jan. 1939 (Chronicle Archives).

Street View of people watching a parade at the GGIE, 1939 (Chronicle Archives). Despite the construction of the new eastern span of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge this past year, the old span remains on Street View for a great then-and now comparison.

The pavilions of the GGIE, 1939 (Chronicle Archives).

Massive Federal Building at the GGIE, pinned by docomomo-noca.

Entrance to the very Californian "Redwood Empire" exhibition at the GGIE, 1939 (Chronicle Archives).

A postcard I found in San Francisco's Ferry Building depicting the Fountain of Western Waters at the GGIE, 1939.

Like many world’s fairs, San Francisco’s turned out to be a financial failure. Although around seventeen million people visited the GGIE during its two years, the $7.8 million fair still lost money. But those who visited it never forgot their experience there.

Built and held as World War II approached, the GGIE was a last moment of simplicity before everything in the world changed. Famous SF Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, who visited the exhibition as a young reporter, later recalled, “Then came the night the lights went down forever at the 1940 Fair on Treasure Island, and we knew there was nothing left to do but wait for our war to come along and get us – for what was left of our youth died then and there, out in the black bay.”

~

To explore all these images and more in our Year of the Bay project, and to pin some of your own, click the image below to go to our map of pins:

Map of GGIE pins in Year of the Bay.

Solving Dogpatch Mysteries in Year of the Bay

Potero Police Station at 20th and 3rd in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood. From the San Francisco Public Library.

For those of you visiting our site for the first time via the Bold Italic, welcome!

Using photos contributed by our collaborators over at the San Francisco Public Library’s San Francisco History Center, we’re hoping you can help solve some date and location mysteries as well as help Street View photos of San Francisco’s ever-changing Dogpatch neighborhood.

As mentioned above, in addition to solving traditional location and date mysteries within our Year of the Bay mysteries interface, we now have the ability to take it a step further and ask our users to help overlay these old photos onto their current Google Street Views.

Using the Year of the Bay Mysteries tool to overlay a photo onto Street View, allowing you to interact with a location's change over time (or lack thereof).

Selecting a new date in the Year of the Bay mysteries interface.

We hope locals and out-of-towners alike can have fun solving some of these and more, while at the same time helping to enrich the San Francisco Public Library’s collections.

It’s easy to get started.  Here’s what to do:

  1. Go to yearofthebay.org and at the top right, log in with Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. If you don’t have a Historypin account, create one for free!
  2. Back at www.yearofthebay.org, scroll down until you see the Mysteries Tab (default).
  3. On the left side, select Show me: Unsolved mysteries (also the default), and scroll down the list of Dogpatch mysteries (among others). If you want to see mysteries that other people have already commented on, tick Show Me: Under investigation on the left bar.
  4. Choose a photo from the list you want to help solve, and press Solve.
  5. Depending on what kind of mystery it is, the interface will prompt you to either enter a new date, find a new location, or overlay a photo onto Street View. Once you make your suggestion, you will be able to enter in why you’ve made the choice you have.
  6. That’s it!  Because this is a beta tool (which is to say we’re still working on it to make it better), if anything weird happens, feel free to comment on this blog post, or fill out this easy form to let us know what happened.
Don’t forget to share your mystery-solving skills with your friends!