Eadweard Muybridge was a Victorian photographer whose work transformed our understanding of the natural world. He was the first to show that horses gallop with all their hooves off the ground — and in this incredible photographic panorama, he reveals San Francisco in its infancy.
To understand how incredible this is, you have to visit the NYPL's digital archives, where you can see how Muybridge put together a series of photographs to create a complete, wraparound view of San Francisco. In this snippet of the panorama, you can see how the city looked from the top of California Street, on what today we'd call Nob Hill. Note that the city's famous hills were crawling with crazy-looking staircases that people used to climb home.