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.

History of San Francisco’s Parks, Plazas, & Public Squares

1908 Buena Vista Park & Duboce2The History of San Francisco’s Park & Plazas will be a series of articles exploring the history of San Francisco’s parks, plazas, and public squares.

Why San Francisco?

As a Bay Area resident from 2000-2008 I became very interested in the city of San Francisco as a historical subject. One of my research interests includes how changes in the built environment affect the role and use of public space in urban and rural settings. San Francisco has experienced dramatic changes in its built environment over the years making it a particularly interesting and fascinating historical subject. This series will explore the historical antecedents of the city’s parks and other public spaces, how they’ve been reimagined over the years, and how the city has repurposed land once considered “unusable,” such as cemeteries and watershed sloughs, into new areas for parks and public squares. The parks and public spaces that have been completely lost to history will also be addressed.

Research Methodology & Framework

The series will look critically at the history of the city’s parks, plazas, and public squares as told through historical maps, while also incorporating other scholarly Californiana resources such as books, historical newspapers, journal articles, and ephemera. I am also interested in applying this research framework to other urban and rural areas in California, including Humboldt County.