Genealogy & Family History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for expert genealogists and people interested in genealogy or family history. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a project that would benefit greatly from an area map of San Francisco. The dates of the project range from 1911-1913 so I would like to find as large-resolution map as possible of the peninsula at that time. Free maps are preferred, but paid maps would be worth it if the quality is there. Is there a reliable source around for such a map?

(I would imagine many maps were created surrounding the 1906 earthquake and fire. While slightly earlier than the timeframe I am looking at, they would suffice provided I can get them without fire overlays.)

share|improve this question
Do you mean a large-scale map that has lots of detail of a small area, or a smaller-scale map covering the whole peninsula that has been scanned at high resolution? How are you going to use the map? As illlustration? online? georeferenced and incorporated into a GIS application? – Sue Adams Nov 28 '12 at 10:40
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The University of Alabama has a historical maps collecion.

As you might expect, it's strongest for Alabama, but does also have many state maps and maps for a small number of cities, including San Francisco.

The San Francisco Maps Collection includes the 1912 Rand McNally in two versions: a central map with street index, and a wider map covering more of the peninsula.

share|improve this answer
Rob thanks for the answer; do you know of a way I can download full copies of the maps displayed there? – fbrereto Nov 29 '12 at 0:13
You're right, there's no easy way to download. Their help files say "Our maps can only be viewed online (no downloading)". Having said that, the address of the jpg file can be manipulated and with a bit of experimenting this downloads the 1912 city file in hi-res:…; - it takes a long time. For other maps, replace the /California/California1912b.sid with a similar part from their address. – Rob Hoare Nov 29 '12 at 4:20
You, sir, are a genius. – fbrereto Nov 29 '12 at 4:46

The David Rumsey Map Collection has a whole bunch of historical maps. Using the Old Maps Online index, which I searched for maps of SF, 1910-1915, I found this "Chevalier" map from 1911.

The nice thing about the Old Maps Online index is that you can restrict by date as well as by location. It seems better than the built-in search and browsing feature on the David Rumsey site; when I had searched there initially, I didn't see anything immediately promising.

share|improve this answer
Wow, what a gorgeous map! I'm bookmarking that page for sure... Thank you for the great answer! – fbrereto Nov 27 '12 at 22:00

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.