August 2014

View from the Past: Earliest Known Map of Potrero Hill

Abigail Johnston and Peter Linenthal

This simple drawing—diseño in Spanish—is the earliest known map of Potrero Hill. It was drawn to describe the boundaries of the land granted to Francisco de Haro’s twin sons in 1844 to pasture their cattle. The government of Mexico made more than 700 of these grants after Mission lands were repossessed by the Secularization Act of 1833. On the left, Mission Creek flows from the Bay toward a willow grove and Mission Dolores. Islais Creek is on the right, the Bay is at the top.
     In 2004, Julia Bergman and Peter Linenthal poured through hundreds of diseños on microfilm at the San Bruno office of the National Archives. When our diseño suddenly appeared on the screen, it was a moment we’ll never forget.



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