View of Sacramento circa 1849 (From California State Library)The California State Capitol Museum has opened a major new exhibit, “Bird’s Eye Views of California.” Drawing on materials from the California State Library that are rarely seen, this exciting exhibit allows visitors the opportunity to see California from a completely new perspective. Offering the unique experience to travel through both time and space, visitors take in these snapshots of California’s past unveiling the fascinating world of the state’s ever changing urban landscape.
Before Google Earth™, the age of flight and our ability to see the world from an aerial perspective, Californians relied on the imagination and skills of artists to see their world from above. Their rich, detailed artistic renderings, known as bird’s eye views, provide us with a unique series of urban portraits. These elevated views portray communities that are either no longer recognizable or have altogether ceased to exist – such as the humble beginnings of vast metropolises like Los Angeles or the short lived heyday of now abandoned ghost towns like Bodie, now a State Historic Park.                           

Over the last 200 years, talented view artists have used a wide variety of print media to portray the rise and development of an urban West. Beginning with the earliest portrayals of California Indian villages, bird’s eye views show us how early Spanish pastoral settlements and the instant cities of the Gold Rush grew into today’s major urban centers. 

“Bird’s Eye Views of California” is open to the public daily, 9 am to 5 pm, through March 2008.  Visitors can also take advantage of free public tours of the State Capitol as well.