If you or your ancestors ever lived in San Francisco, don't visit this site! It is addictive. You'll spend hours looking at the pictures!
Dan Vanderkam moved to San Francisco in 2007 to work at Google. He became fascinated with his new city’s history and soon found the San Francisco Public Library’s online repository of old pictures. However, he quickly became frustrated by the site's awkward user interface. He thought, "there must be a better way." http://www.oldsf.org/ is the result.
The new Web site has placed around 13,000 of the library’s photos on a Google map, with a slider that lets users change the time period of the viewable images. The images range from the 1850s to the year 2000. Of course, there are many pictures taken before the earthquake of 1906. One interesting experience is to look at photos take shortly before the earthquake, then look at the same location again after the disaster.
If you had ancestors in San Francisco and can find their street address, you may be able to find pictures of their neighborhood, if not of their house.
The library reportedly is thrilled by the site, as the new site provides a user experience that the library could not afford to produce on its own. Currently, the library has digitized only 2 percent of its estimated two million photos.
You can find the Old S.F. site at http://www.oldsf.org/. Don't say that you weren't warned about the sucking of your time!
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