San Francisco Stereoviews

California Street
Cliff House
Golden Gate Park


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I collect San Franciscana, primarily old books about the Gold Rush and the 1906 earthquake. At an antique store many years ago, I bought a lovely stereoscopic slide showing the Victorian Cliff House (middle thumbnail at top of this page) from Ocean Beach. This card later inspired me to scrounge on eBay for more San Francisco stereoviews, mostly during a period of about ten months in 2000. The supply of the more common S.F. stereoviews (typically related to the 1906 earthquake and fire) appears to outweigh the demand, so they are cheap; I didn't pay more than $4 for any single slide, and my collection cost about $200 in toto for nearly a hundred slides. Older stereoviews are available, like the wonderful Carleton Watkins stereoviews, but they are usually quite expensive.

This page lists 97 stereoviews from my collection. I also have a number of duplicates, not cataloged here. Most date from just after the 1906 earthquake and fire. Quality varies widely, both in the quality of the original and in wear. The originals are all roughly 7" x 3.5", here scanned in color at 300 dpi. Many originally came in sets. Some are reproductions.

My More San Francisco Stereoviews page displays additional San Francisco stereoviews not included in my collection.



While these photos of post-earthquake San Francisco are interesting per se, of course you should view them in stereo. The Wikipedia stereoscopy article gives general information on stereo imaging. There are two different ways to view stereo images without a stereoscope, called freeviewing. With the normal left-right image orientation, you can focus past the image to see the stereo image (parallel or walleyed viewing). Alternatively, you can focus in front of a right-left reversed image to see the stereo image (crosseyed viewing). Freeviewing is nicely described here, with simple illustrations and good viewing advice; I won't repeat it here. My Stereograms page shows a few of my own stereo photos.


My browser-based viewer (pure PHP/CSS, no Java) displays either a normal or a reversed image. It also lets you turn on small white boxes at the sides of each image. The boxes give your eyes a strong clue for converging the stereo image, which makes freeviewing much easier for me (your mileage may vary). I like to view from about 6' away from our big HDTV, using the viewer with reversed images, boxes, and width 1600 so that the slide fills the browser window. The best images (Siegel, Cooper and Underwood) look great, a real 3D window into the past.

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