San Francisco was a relatively new city when Muybridge arrived there in the mid-1850s. It had been the Mexican settlement of Yerba Buena on the shoreline to the south of the Golden Gate, receiving its familiar name only in 1847. Following the influx of immigrants after the Gold Rush, it expanded rapidly throughout the second half of the nineteenth century until it was flattened by the earthquake and fire of 1906. Muybridge attracted patronage from one of the city’s foremost citizens, Leland Stanford, who had made his money from the expansion of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s, and who became the first Republican Governor of California. With railroad colleagues Mark Hopkins and Charles Crocker, Stanford settled on one of the highest sites in the city, where they constructed palatial mansions for themselves. It was from the roof of Hopkins’ home that Muybridge produced two panoramas of the city, the larger of which was a technical accomplishment involving in total more than six hours continuous work, as each of its thirteen plates was taken in turn. These panoramic prospects are the culmination of Muybridge’s engagement with his adopted home, and complement the individual studies of street scenes with which he had made his name in the city.
To celebrate the 130th anniversary of Muybridge’s San Franciso panorama contemporary photographer Tom Pope re-photographed the panorama on the original site in 2008.