Contemporaneous description of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast

This short article appeared in the Daily Alta California newspaper on May 19, 1852 and provides a contemporaneous description of the city’s infamous Barbary Coast quarter, then called Sydney Town. The article describes a scene on Pacific Street, probably located somewhere between Stockton and Montgomery or Sansome Streets. “BAD CHARACTERS. Pacific street has justly obtained an unenviable notoriety, from the fact…

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From the Reference Desk: The San Francisco Chronicle Encourages You To “Die Now”

Notice found in an issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, dated March 27, 1867: “Worthy of Note. Persons contemplating dying soon are remined that the present times are favorable towards the securing of a respectable crowd of mourners. This is mainly owing to the fact that the Central R.R. Company charge but one fare to the Lone Mountain cemetery. Hence,…

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Here's an image of the old Fletcher Drive train trestle. Home restaurant is near the steel pylons on the left-hand side of the street. Image retrieved from CREDIT: Transportation photographer Donald Duke, courtesy Metro Transportation Library and Archive Collection.

Lost L.A.: The Abandoned Corralitas Streetcar Line

In the triangle-shaped neighborhood between the Silver Lake Reservoir, the Glendale Freeway, and the I-5 Freeway is a little piece of Los Angeles history that is lost, but not forgotten. The Corralitas Trail is a little-know urban hike that follows an abandoned Pacific Electric streetcar line that used to run between downtown Los Angeles and the city of Glendale. Before…

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Using Google Tools to Improve Findability and Access to UCLA’s Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

UCLA’s Young Research Library maintains a great collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of the metropolitan Los Angeles area, including Venice, San Pedro, Culver City, and North Hollywood. From about the 1870s until the 1970s, the Sanborn Company was one of a few companies that specialized in producing fire insurance maps for the purpose of assessing fire risk and helping…

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Example of a neatline

Map neatlines

The neatline on a map is: “A border drawn around a map to enclose the legend, scale, title, geographic features, and any other information pertinent to the map, often showing tick marks that indicate intervals of distance. On a standard quadrangle map, the neatlines are the meridians and parallels delimiting the quadrangle.” Citation The ERSI Press dictionary of GIS terminology…

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Challenging Reference Question: Searching Hansards and British Parliamentary Papers

Here was a challenging reference question I received at the Young Research Library reference desk that was ultimately solved by a couple of my colleagues. A patron was looking for a transcript of a debate that took place in the British Parliament in 1937 about, as the patron asked, whether any black representatives would be able to (allowed to?) attend…

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Florida: a guide to the southernmost state

Selected content from Florida, part 2: Diamond ball and the etymology of ‘cracker’

Part two in a series of selected highlights from the Work Project Administration’s Florida guidebook, Florida: a guide to the southernmost state, 1940 (c1939). All content is quoted directly from the Florida guidebook. Any comments in brackets are mine. [These selected excerpts are from the sections on Florida’s folklore history and its sports and recreation activities. The WPA’s take on the…

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