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The History of a Piece of Oakland

January 27, 2015
tags: ,

A year ago my now friend @brockwinstead wrote a fascinating series of blog posts digging into the people who used to own his house and the land on which it stands. He contacted BOOM: A Journal of California and it is now an article in the winter edition.

Brock had dug up lots of old and cool maps in his investigations. The awesome Jon Christensen at BOOM asked me if I’d be interested in making a digital mapping supplement to Brock’s article. Little did I know what I was getting into when I said “sure, that should be straightforward.”

Much Javascript and CSS and GeoJSON later, behold the historical slippy map showing how a ridiculously large land grant got whittled down by regime change and sub-divided over time. Click on the years to travel through time and space, hover or click over red things for more information. While it is certainly viewable on mobile, it is even better on a desktop. (Click on the image because WordPress hates iframes.)

1820 Rancho San Antonio

In the 1820s the Spanish government regularly granted good soldiers like Luis Peralta chunks of land larger than present-day San Francisco. In the 1850s, Americans forced them to sell most of it off. Seventy-five years after the grant, the Peraltas sold off their last piece of the grant.

Brock read his article and interviewed me on his show The Eastern Shore — we talked about the map and the people and what we learned making it (both historical and technical). Gracefully edited podcast version here:

What did I learn? While I would love to do this for more neighborhoods, it was a heavy, heavy lift. For those map and history nerds amongst you, the basic workflow was:

old maps —> NYPL Map Warper —(GeoTIFF)—> Google Earth —(KML)—> QGIS —(shp)—>
CartoDB —(GeoJSON)—> Leaflet —(JS/JQuery/CSS)—> dynamic slippy map

This is not a scalable workflow. I am pretty sure this needs to be an integrated product. I just need to figure out where I can work to make that happen.

NB: I have collected all the slippy maps onto for your viewing pleasure.

But before you think all the other websites get the good stuff, a Burrito Justice exclusive! Here’s a GIF of one of our first efforts to align actual Sanborn maps. (Click to zoom)

sanborns 1889-1903-1911-1951

Song Frankongsko

January 26, 2015

Hong Kong, 1841

Hong Kong Island 001 (2)

San Francisco, 1847

San Francisco 1847

(Hong Kong 1841 via the Corinthian Column. SF 1847 via the Big Map Blog.)


January 26, 2015

I have the best followers.

Heron’s Head Park

January 20, 2015

Such a nice spot. So much better than a Southern Crossing.


And what great view of the Burrito Railgun.


And Sutro and Bernal of course.



January 20, 2015
tags: ,

Noticed something strange in the latest self-portrait by Curiosity.

sutro curiosity

Dinosaurs Winning the Internet

December 21, 2014

The esteemed Peter Hartlaub came across this ridiculously awesome nativity scene in his Oakland neighborhood.

The answer, of course, is this innocent shadow play tweeted last year:

All hail our dinosaur jesus overlords.

Not A Burrito, NYC Edition (part II)

November 26, 2014

Welcome back to America’s newest game show sensation, ¡¿IS. IT. A. BURRITO?!

Is It A Burrito

In tonight’s episode, we take the show on the road to NEW YORK CITY!

Our contestant is my friend @brittneyg, part of the SF Diaspora. She has two cats, a great boyfriend and just moved to the exciting borough of Queens. Brittney, are you ready to play?

Alright Brittney, but let’s keep our expectations realistic! This is New York City after all, and we have seen some of their “burritos” during last season’s ¡¿IS. IT. A. BURRITO?!

new york burrito

OK Brittney, you’ve chased down a taco truck in Queens. Please describe the “burrito” you have found.

Oh dear, this is off to a bad start. But we here on ¡¿IS. IT. A. BURRITO?! don’t judge a book by its cover! (Or a burrito by its foil. Wait, actually we totally do judge that!) Anyway, please describe the structural integrity of the “burrito” in your possession.

OH GOD NO. Brittney, there is still time to save yourself. Run! Run for your life!

OH THE HUMANITY. Alright, let’s keep things together here. What about the tortilla chips, Brittney?

Somehow this isn’t surprising. What about a picture, Brittney?

Oh sweet jesus, Brittney, are there any witnesses to this debacle? Are you sure this isn’t a dream/nightmare?

Great Scott, you’ve clearly succumbed to Stockholm syndrome and are overly sympathetic to your captors. Just put the “burrito” down, Brittney, and get to the nearest ABDF (Authorized Burrito Dispensing Facility). Here are instructions.

Well Brittney, thank you for playing ¡¿IS. IT. A. BURRITO?! Please let us know when your flight to SFO has taken off, because we have a special present for NYC!

burrito rail gun hunters point

That’s right! Thanks for playing, NYC! You win… a Burrito Railgun Delivery! We’ve disabled the humanitarian safeties, and within 9 minutes you will receive a fiery rain of al pastor, coming in hot at 29,000 mph! Expect a 20 mile blast radius of foil.

We had to destroy New York in order to save it.


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