Water, Logged

A new map taps in to San Francisco’s hidden waterways.

July 02, 2015

Illustrated by Joel Pomerantz via Kickstarter. Shared under a Creative Commons license.

San Francisco, with the bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, is a city very much defined by water. And once upon a time, it was pretty flush with groundwater, too, with freshwater springs and streams trickling through town. Much of these natural waterways are now paved over or filled in, but a new map called Seep City tells the story of how these hidden water sources helped shape the Golden Gate City.

Writer and educator Joel Pomerantz illustrates only natural formations, but by doing so he reveals a surprising amount about human activity. For instance, the sharp lines of streets and highways interrupt the gentle contours of landforms.

As it exposes San Franciscans’ past relationship with water, the map hints at a possible future one as well. Wired reports that the drought has inspired renewed interest in tapping into these types of forgotten water sources. However Pomerantz’s map is used, it's a beautiful lens through which to view the city. Drink it in.

Map detail of Bernal heights. Ilustrated by Joel Pomerantz.

Map detail of Glen Canyon showing today's water in yellow and historic creeks in blue. Illustrated by Joel Pomerantz via Kickstarter.

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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