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 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, 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.


Introducing East at Main Street

With the East at Main Street project, you can learn more about the historic places and cultural resources that have played a central role to Asian and Pacific Islander American communities throughout the United States, and find out how you and your community can add places to the map as well.

Below, you’ll find some short video tutorials to get you started, and we’ve also made available a helpful Getting Started Guide (pdf).

This project has been made possible by the Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation Network, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Donna Graves and Michelle Magalong.

American Experience Launches the Engineering Map of America

The original Pennsylvania Station, erected in 1910 in New York City, was a vast structure that occupied two whole city blocks, or 28 acres. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

New York’s Pennsylvania Station was an incredible achievement of modern engineering, though in the rapidly changing landscape of New York City, it would stand only for a number of decades. As usual, the American Experience team brings this exciting history to life in their new film, The Rise and Fall of Penn Station, on PBS.

As part of the February 18th debut of the film, American Experience has launched the Engineering Map of America. Their team has worked with content partners to map engineering feats across the United States on the interactive map, powered by Historypin. They’ve also updated the American Experience iPhone app, adding another chapter to the Abolitionist Map of America, and now including geolocated video content of America’s most amazing construction projects. Check out their video below about the app.

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 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, 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!

U.S. National Park Street Views on Historypin

Sequoia National Park in California, one of the newest additions to Google Street View.

Recently, Google added some new Street Views of U.S. National Parks and monuments, allowing you to explore some of the best parks and historical sites from the comfort of your own home. For a while now, Google has been taking their Street View cameras off the street and into forests, parks, and even the inside of buildings, which adds many more possibilities for sharing your content with us on Historypin. Naturally, we wanted to see what existing pins we could overlay after these recent Street View additions, and we found some great ones! Here is a small selection of some of the wonderful U.S. National Park memories on our Historypin map, newly-added to Street View (click the photos to fade the overlays):

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, 2000. Shared by user 15siirma.

From user 15siirma: “The mountain has the President’s faces of George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Mount Rushmore is one of the places that my family took a vacation to visit. The best memory I have would be scrounging around in the gift shop, begging my parents to buy something for me. The people in the picture are my three brothers and I, with a bunch of tourists in the background. The place is important to many other people in the United States.”

Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, 1936, shared by Paul's Family Photos.

From user Paul’s Family Photos: “My grandmother, father (left) and Uncle Paul in front of Old Faithful during a trip to Yellowstone Park in 1936.”

Daguerreotype of the Alamo, Texas, 1849, shared by the Briscoe Center of American History.

From the Briscoe Center of American History’s Channel: “Daguerreotype of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. This daguerreotype was made in 1849, thirteen years after the famous battle between the attacking Mexican forces commanded by General Antonio López de Santa Anna and defending Texan forces co-commanded by William Travis and James Bowie.”

Marchers at the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963, shared by the US National Archives.

From the US National Archives’ Channel, marches convening at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. in August of 1963, during the March on Washington. One of largest political rallies for human rights in American history, it called for the civil and economic rights of African Americans and included Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. This past August commemorated the March’s 50th Anniversary.

President Bill Clinton making a name rubbing on the Vietnam Memorial, November 1993, shared by user comms.

From user comms: “President Bill Clinton and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund founder Jan C. Scruggs make a name rubbing on The Wall on Memorial Day.”

You can explore Google’s Street View Gallery here, and see what kinds of great overlays you can create and share on Historypin with your own personal collections. Happy pinning!

Historypin and Year of the Bay at the California Historical Society

A touchscreen with the Year of the Bay project on Historypin, in the gallery of the California Historical Society.

The California Historical Society is embracing 21st-century technology to celebrate the Year of the Bay in 2013, by offering its extensive collections to a crowdsourcing experiment in its gallery at 678 Mission Street in downtown San Francisco and on Year of the Bay on Historypin.

Every Wednesday from noon to 2pm, we’ll be at the California Historical Society to help visitors pin their contributions — photographs and memories — here on the Year of the Bay site. Dig into your family photographs and if you’d like help starting a collection here at Year of the Bay, bring them in to our pinning station at the California Historical Society and we’ll get you set up.

We'll help you pin to Year of the Bay at the California Historical Society's pinning station

Or you can start your own collection here right now!

If you do drop by the California Historical Society, be sure to leave some time to check out “Curating the Bay: Crowdsourcing a New Environmental History,” an exhibition curated by Year of the Bay’s principal investigator, Jon Christensen, in the historical society’s galleries.

Curating the Bay in the California Historical Society's main gallery.

In a year that is bringing the high-profile America’s Cup yacht races to the Bay, the opening of a new Bay Bridge span, and the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Port of San Francisco, Jon has curated an experimental exhibition of hundreds of items from its collections not publicly exhibited before. Many of these artifacts — photographs, paintings, and documents — present historical mysteries still to be solved. The historical society is welcoming the public into this rich collection of materials to contribute their own stories, knowledge, photographs, and other sources to create a richer, more diverse history of the San Francisco Bay.

The exhibition takes risks by asking visitors to fill in the blanks rather than presenting them with a finished narrative. It opens up the process of curating — usually reserved for trained professionals — to the public both in the exhibition and online as part of Year of the Bay’s dynamic crowdsourcing experiment with researchers at Stanford University and Historypin.

Curating the Bay at the California Historical Society

We  hope you can join us Sunday, April 7, from 4 to 6pm to celebrate the opening of an exhibition at the California Historical Society that features centrally our Year of the Bay project. Visit the California Historical Society’s web site to RSVP:

We’ll be there offering live demos and lessons on how to use the Historypin site to add your memories and photos about the Bay, to create collections and slideshows, and tell stories or guide tours through the historical sources we’re gathering together online to tell new stories about the environmental history of the Bay.

And stay tuned. Throughout the exhibition, which runs through August 25, we’ll be offering other walk-in workshops, as well as working with different groups interested in gathering together new historical sources online to tell their stories around the Bay. If you’re interested in attending one of these sessions — or having us organize one for your group — email Jon Christensen at

Let’s make history!




All new Historypin!

We are proud to launch a brand new Historypin!

After months of researching, planning, designing, testing and building we are ready to share with you all a major new redesign which, we hope, shows off all your content in the best possible light and gives you lots of new features to enjoy.

The all new homepage now has a Pin of the Day gallery, so the winning images of this prestigious award can be easily seen by all. You can also look back through past winners. Upload your best images to be in for a chance of featuring here.

We also have a brand new totaliser, the arrival of which is well timed as we have just reached 200,000 materials shared on Historypin. Thankyou to every one of you that has contributed to this figure.

You can now see every item added to Historypin in the new Activity Feed, which shows what you are all doing on the site, be it adding photos, videos and audio clips, favoriting other people’s contributions, adding comments, creating Tours and Collections or adding items to Projects.

Projects are also a new feature. They bring together content around certain themes. We now have several projects including Year of the bayRemember how we used to… and My Grandparents are better than yours for you to explore, add to and comment on.

Loads of work has gone into tidying things up, beautifying and simplifying the user experience and interface, plus there has been lots of techy work finding solutions to difficult problems behind the scenes. A massive thankyou and congratulations is due to the creative and digital teams - check out their faces here.

A fish auction, New South Wales through the ages and an obscure hotel with a glamorous past.

Pin Of The Week

A Fish Auction in Westerdale, 1905

A brilliant image pinned by the National Media Museum of a fish auction in Westerdale, North Yorkshire in 1905. You can see two large fish on the ground to the left and the fisherman standing a little back from the group surveying the auction. Its a great image as the group all look so enthralled with the produce. The photo was taken by Frank Meadow (1853-1941), who is best known for his images of Whitby’s fishing community. He was made an honorary member of the Royal Photographic Society on his death in 1941.

Pinner of the Week

Broadway Looking West, Sydney, 1962

Pinner of the Week goes to The State Records of New South Wales. They have been pinning a wide variety of photos dating from the 1880′s up until the 1960′s from across New South Wales. The images range from resplendent scenes of Sydney, to small town railway stations. Check out their channel here.

Story Of The Week

Native Americans dancing on the lawn of Sheridan Inn, 1890-1910

Our story this week comes from the Wyoming State Archive. The Sheridan Inn was built in 1893 by the Burlington Railroad Company and the Sheridon Land Company in an attempt to increase visitor numbers to the area. The hotel was built to impress its guests with a hand crafted bar imported from England and electric lights throughout which was a First for Sheridan. The owner William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody also hosted large Wild West shows and recruited performers from far and wide including local Indians pictured below to perform on the covered porch of the hotel. The hotel was saved from destruction in 1966/7 by the Sheridan County Historical Society and is still a hotel and bar to this day. See the Sheridan Inn on the Historypin map here.

Filming on Campus in the 1900′s, Family History, and West Side Story in Hell’s Kitchen

Happy Friday to everyone! Here are some of my favourites from this week:

Pin of the Week

Street View, Movie Camera in Memorial Court, 1914-1918.

One of my favourite Street Views this week comes from The Stanford University Archives, of an early movie camera shoot on the University grounds. This fantastic angle utilizes Google’s recent project to Street View university campuses, with Stanford being among the first.

Movie Camera in Memorial Court, 1914-1918.

This is a wonderful snapshot of early film history, as well as campus life. In the early 20th century, film was only getting on its feet with the more wide-spread distribution of silents in Hollywood; it is great to see a candid from this era of film in a more localized setting in Stanford. These are the origins of the student television crews reporting campus life today, and the digital-camera-wielding parents whose sons and daughters reluctantly let them film their university visit. We also get a sense of how much has changed with the wonderful WWI-era fashions, especially on the boy standing next to the early movie camera. These outfits are certainly fancier than the average shorts and t-shirt-wearing California students today!

To see more photos like these, visit The Stanford Archive’s Channel.

Pinner of the Week

Paddling, 1927-1931.

Pinner of the Week is user KateMasheder, who has pinned some fantastic stories and photos of her English and Irish ancestors. As someone who can hardly find family photos dating before 1950, KateMasheder’s photos are a treasure-trove of family history. From her grandparents on picnics in the 1920′s to her great-grandfather’s shopfront in London’s East End, she charts over a century of her family’s story. In addition, she has pinned many interesting photos of unknown people and places spanning the same time period.

KateMasheder also asks the rest of the Historypin community to engage in these histories, asking for some help in solving some family mysteries. For example, she asks if anyone knows the precise location her grandmother’s childhood home near Martinstown, Northern Ireland (below), and whether or not it still exists. I love when users ask one another to become history detectives; in utilizing the entire Historypin community, you never know who might be out there with an answer!

Lisbreen Cottage, County Antrim, 1885 - 1915. Click the photo if you think you know the modern-day location...

Browse her Channel here.

Story of the Week

West Side Story promotional shoot, New York City, 1957. (Friedman-Abeles Collection/NYPL)

This past Wednesday marked the 55th anniversary of the Broadway opening of West Side Story, conceived by choreographer Jerome Robbins, written by playwright Arthur Laurents and composed by Leonard Bernstein. Originally entitled East Side Story and centering around Jewish and Catholic star-crossed lovers, the final production developed into how we know it today: a tale of love across the divide of two street gangs, one Latin and one white-ethnic. The change in story also brought about a new-up-and-coming lyricist, the now legendary Stephen Sondheim, who enlisted the help of Broadway producer Hal Prince to help save the controversial show. It eventually opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on September 26, 1957.

The musical’s iconic promotional shot, made for the original cast album cover, shows Tony (Larry Kert) playfully chasing after his girlfriend Maria (Carol Lawrence), on a block of four-and five-story tenement buildings; this area, in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, is similar to the one in which Maria might have called home in the musical, set in the mid-1950′s. Photographer by Leo Friedman, who captured some of Broadway’s greatest hits over the course of his career, tried various locations for this shoot. ”We shot for days,” recalls Lawrence. “All around Central Parkóup and down staircases, jumping through greenery. Everything.”

West 56th Street today.(click for larger)

The eventual West Side location, just a few blocks from Friedman’s studio, allowed the photographer to contrast the gritty neighborhood with the boundless optimism of the young lovers. Lawrence further recalls the marathon-like day: ”Leo may remember it as an easy shot because he was standing still, but we must have run up and down that street 300 times on a very hot summer day,” she says with a laugh. “We didn’t have any police help, so there were pedestrians going by. We even knocked down a little old lady and got yelled at. I was a dancer and Larry was an athlete, so we were in good shape. But we were in better shape after that picture.”