Map of the City of San Francisco Published by Britton & Rey

Never-folded mid-19th century map of San Francisco by Britton and Rey.

Cartographer(s): Britton & Rey
Date: ca. 1856
Place: San Francisco
Dimensions: 34.3 x 39.4 cm (13.5 x 15.5 in)
Condition Rating: VG+

Out of stock

SKU: NL-00131 Categories: ,


One of the earliest maps of San Francisco published in the city itself.

Finely detailed map of the populated areas of San Francisco, oriented to the west. The map extends west to Divisadero; south to Alta.

Since there are no folds in this copy, it was undoubtedly a separate issued. It has a neatly printed number 55 on a small piece of paper affixed in the lower margin. One interesting feature is the tracing of the original shoreline of San Francisco, showing just how much of the city is built on landfill.

The map documents a momentous time for both the city in particular and the United States in general — what Barbara Berglund calls “the emergence of a new urban society on the western frontier of the country’s landed empire.” In the years prior to the publication of this map, San Francisco was a true boom-town, having grown from a sleepy village into a sizable city in about one year. In the summer and fall of 1848, after the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the town of about 1,000 was nearly depopulated as its residents literally ran for the hills in search of gold. Two years later, after the 1849 Gold Rush brought gold seekers from all over the world, it had grown to a city of over 25,000—the largest on the Pacific coast of the Americas.

Britton & Rey were located at the corner of Montgomery St. and Commercial St. between 1854 and 1858.


Britton & Rey

Joseph Britton (1825 – July 18, 1901) was a lithographer and the co-founder of prominent San Francisco lithography studio Britton and Rey. He was also a civic leader in San Francisco, serving on the Board of Supervisors and helping to draft a new city charter. In 1852, he became active in lithography and publishing, first under the name ‘Pollard and Britton,’ and then ‘Britton and Rey,’ a printing company founded with his friend and eventual brother-in-law Jacques Joseph Rey. Britton and Rey became the premier lithographic and engraving studio of the Gold Rush era, producing letter sheets, maps, and artistic prints.

Condition Description

Never folded. Excellent.


Harry T. Peters, California on Stone (New York, NY, 1976).