These bird's-eye views provide us with a series of historic urban portraits from the
last 150 years. By capturing the development of the
state's cities and towns, these artists were able to create a fascinating visual record of vistas now lost to time. Starting with the earliest portrayals of California Indian villages, the bird's-eye views illustrate how early pastoral settlements and embryonic cities later grew into today's major urban centers.
This method of portraying cities from an elevated postition can be traced back five centuries to Europe. When this view-making tradition was brought to the New World, it was used to document and promote America's expanding urban frontirer. Over the last 200 years, these talented artists used a wide variety of print media to portray the rise and development of the urban West. By 1800 the newly developed print medium called lithography helped to turn bird's-eye view making into the popular mass media of its day.
The California State Capitol Museum presents a major new exhibit, "Bird's-Eye Views of California." Drawing on rarely seen materials from the California State Library, this exciting exhibit allows you the opportunity to see California from a completely new prespective. Before Google Earth TM, the age of flight, and our ability to see the world from an aerial perspective, Californians had to rely on the imagination and skill of artists of their time.