An L.A. Reading List

Now that I’ve returned to Los Angeles and will be working with historical maps, photographs, Sanborn atlases, and reference books related to Geography and GIS, I’m finally getting to some of the books on my reading list dedicated to the subject of Los Angeles. Ashley, Abel, and I visited the Calabasas Public Library today (thanks CPL!) and I got some books for my first “Return to L.A.” reading list, featuring all kinds of contemporary and historical topics related to Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

What are your favorite books on Los Angeles? Leave a comment below.

Back in the library…in southern California!

The Geography Department at CSUN. Can you see the globe?

Beginning March 30, 2015 I will be starting a new position as the Map Curator in the Department of Geography at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). As Map Curator I will be responsible for managing a collection of historical maps, atlases, photographs, and reference materials related to maps, cartography, and geographic information systems. As part of my responsibilities, I will be applying library and archival principles and best practices of access, description, preservation, and discovery of a wide range of scholarly materials to students and faculty of CSUN.

The Geography Department Map Library is a designated USGS map depository and is one of the premier collections of historical topographic maps and Sanborn atlases in the western United States. The emphasis of the library is on California, Los Angeles, and the San Fernando Valley. The library’s Sanborn holdings include atlases from throughout the United States and a very small number of holdings from Mexico, as well. You can see the library’s holdings index here, and you can learn more about Sanborn atlases on Wikipedia or on this article I wrote in 2012.

More updates to come in the future…

Antecedents to San Francisco’s Dolores Park

Daily Alta California, August 2, 1859.
Daily Alta California, August 2, 1859.

In early August 1859, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approves the establishment of a Jewish Cemetery in the Mission District–the location is not yet determined. Congregations Emanu-El and Sherith Israel relocate their small Spring Valley Jewish cemetery to the recently surveyed and platted Mission lands. The old Spring Valley cemetery, located at the corner of today’s Gough and Vallejo streets, was only about one acre in size and quickly reached capacity as it served as a burial ground for Jews in San Francisco and throughout Gold Rush country (Voorsanger, The Chronicles of Emanu-El, 138).

The clip from the Daily Alta California reports on the Board of Supervisors decision to allow the relocation of the cemetery into the Mission lands.


“City Items,” Daily Alta California, August 2, 1859, p. 2, col. 3. Accessed:

Voorsanger, Jacob. The Chronicles of Emanu-El: being an account of the rise and progress of the Congregation Emanu-El, which was founded in July, 1850, and will celebrate fiftieth anniversary December 23, 1900. San Francisco: [Press of G. Spaulding & Co.], 1900. Accessed:

NBC Bay Area: Defunct San Francisco Reservoir to be Turned Into Park

Location of the old Russian Hill reservoirs. 1861 Wackenreuder map, courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection.
Location of the old Russian Hill reservoirs. 1861 Wackenreuder map, courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection.

Defunct San Francisco Reservoir to be Turned Into Park | NBC Bay Area.

San Francisco’s newest neighborhood park will be atop Russian Hill, located at the old San Francisco City Works Reservoir at Larkin and Francisco streets. The old San Francisco City Works operated a flume that delivered city water from Mountain Lake in the Presidio to two reservoirs atop Russian Hill–one at the location of the proposed park, currently labeled as open space, and the second which was located two blocks south at Lombard and Hyde streets, the George Sterling Memorial open space.

A coalition of neighborhood organizations has developed a website where you can find out more about Francisco Park and its history:

See the full version of the historical 1861 Wackenreuder map here.