San Francisco makes old home photos available

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you live in San Francisco, you may be able to take a walk back in time on your own sidewalk.

City Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu has teamed with the San Francisco Public Library to preserve and catalog some 94,000 photographs of homes and businesses. She says the project started after her office began digitizing property records.

"When we were going through those files, one of the things we noticed is we had so many wonderful historic property files and photos from years and years ago," says Chu.

They are tiny snapshots of a city growing up. Cars filling garages and people filling front sidewalks. A panorama of change from the 1940's through the 2000's.

"Pictures through time ground people. We feel that local history makes connections and community," says Woody LaBounty of the Western Neighborhoods project, which is helping to identify dates and locations.

City archivists have created a searchable database. Punch in your address or block number and you can see if someone filed a photo or record of your home in the past. The pictures aren't available online yet, but with a request form, librarians can pull the images for viewing or copying at the main library.

Instructions and links are available here.

They say the photos might have documented anything from a property's location to a new room addition, and ultimately, the subtle changes that have shaped the city -- block by block.
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