Browse historic photos of San Francisco with Old S.F.

A photographer could spend weeks wandering around San Francisco – between the city’s dramatic natural setting, bright murals and colorful rows of Victorian homes, there’s a lot to see (and shoot).

As Gadling blogger Jessica pointed out recently, it’s also a city rich with history. In fact, photographers have been documenting this City by the Bay ever since the very first days the camera was invented. Now a website called Old S.F. lets you blend these two pursuits, displaying the city’s pleasing photography and rich history via an interactive map.

The story behind Old S.F. begins when resident Dan Vanderkam was looking at historic photos at the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection and came upon an image of his block that was identified with the wrong cross streets. The inaccuracy inspired him to start a searchable database, layered onto a Google Map of San Francisco to help others find them more easily. The rest, as they like to say, is history.

To start using Old S.F., just pull the sliders along the top to adjust the date the photos were taken (starting at 1850 and ending at 2000) and then click on one of the red dots to see images from that location. It’s a fascinating journey through some of San Francisco’s most famous (as well as its most intimate) landmarks – witness the chaos and destruction that followed the 1906 earthquake, or watch the elegant Golden Gate Bridge as its construction slowly creeps across the Bay. It’s your own personal time machine to San Francisco – and you’re holding the controls.

[Photo courtesy of army.arch]