The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley has incredible historic collections, which began when the university acquired Hubert Howe Bancroft’s personal library in 1905. By that time Bancroft had amassed quite a personal collection, including personal documents from General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, whose Sonoma home sits right next to the Montini Open Space Preserve.
So I can’t say I was all that surprised when I came across this photograph that appears to be a view of the town of Sonoma in 1887, taken from the hills above which is now the Montini Open Space. Carleton E. Watkins had been hired to take photographs for the Sonoma Valley Improvement Company as a promotional tool.
I cleaned it up a bit, including taking away the brownish cast that comes from film aging. However, feel free to look at the original digital version at UC’s digital portal, Calisphere.org.
Needless to say, Sonoma has changed quite a bit in the last 128 years. I suppose you could say that the Sonoma Valley Improvement Company was perhaps more successful than they could even imagine being at the time.