San Francisco Stereoviews

California Street
[Griffith & Griffith 5]
Cliff House and Seal Rocks
[Underwood & Underwood 5950]
Tents-Camp In Golden Gate Park
[Siegel Cooper 3]


Search (e.g., Griffith or Jefferson; no spaces):


I collect San Franciscana, primarily old books and postcards, mostly related to the Gold Rush and the 1906 earthquake. At an antique store many decades ago, I bought a lovely stereoscopic slide ("stereogram" or "stereoview") 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 over a hundred slides. Older stereoviews are available, like the wonderful Carleton Watkins stereoviews, but they are usually quite expensive.

My collection contains 171 stereoviews, including 41 duplicates. 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 or 600 dpi. Most cards are on flat card stock, some on curved stock; curved cards usually are curved on the horizontal axis, but I have a few curved on the vertical axis. A few are reproductions.

Some earthquake-related slides originally came in sets:

See also:


While these photos of old 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 "freeview" stereo images without a stereoscope or glasses. 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. Alternatively, you can view anaglyph stereo images with red/cyan glasses.