View from Nob Hill, San Francisco, circa 1300 AD

How many of you have admired one of California’s many stunning views and thought to yourself, I wonder what this would have looked like a few hundred years ago?  I spent last night enjoyably looking through a book my Dad shared with me that did just that.  “A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California” combines scientist Laura Cunninham’s field notes, sketches, paintings and prose into a rich exploration of California’s natural heritage.  I was delighted to see so many familiar places transformed through her expert eye. A painting of San Jose before there was San Jose, the South Bay before there were the salt ponds, before and after pictures of El Cerrito Hill and Lake Merritt, overlays of the Sacramento River in 1874 and 1974…. I also enjoyed geeking out on some of her nice charts and diagrams, and mentally comparing them to similar illustrations I’ve designed.  While it is sad to see these vanished landscapes brought to life so vividly, it would be sadder still not to even know what we’ve lost.

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