Hitting the Streets with the SFMTA Photo Archives

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This past weekend, I had the great pleasure of tagging along with Heather Moran of the SFMTA Photo Archives, who had been invited to join Jessica Justino at the Cole Valley Fair in San Francisco. Jessica has been curating collections of historical photos at the fair for ten years, and this year, the Municipal Transit Authority’s (aka MUNI) Centennial, she was highlighting the history of transit in the neighborhood.  Heather was showcasing some of the “Treasures from the Muni Archives”, which document not only public transit history, but also many fascinating scenes of everyday life in San Francisco.

I joined for a couple hours, helping to hand out postcards, but keeping an ear out for the fascinating stories of local history that can only be gathered in the unique setting of conversation from one person to another.  As archivists and librarians know, historical photos of an area never fail to draw a good crowd full of lively reminiscing, story telling, and memory sharing.

I met one woman who was thrilled to have spotted her own house in the then/now poster that Heather had made of the neighborhood, and she had always wondered what the streets on her block looked like before there were garages.  This made for a fun quiz for onlooking kids as they examined the two pictures and said, “those ones haven’t changed at all!”  Looking a little closer, they could pick out the differences, seeing how facades had changes, overhead wires had been added or removed, and how garages were added later.

This is exactly why we’ve built Historypin–so you can help capture the photos, stories, and memories of your local area, and even coordinate with your local library, archive or historical society to help share and preserve the unique history of your community!