California Development Board promotional map

Union Lithograph Co., GEOGRAPHICAL, TOPOGRAPHICAL, STATE HIGHWAY AND RAILROAD MAP OF CALIFORNIA. San Francisco: California Development Board, 1916.
Lithograph printed in four colors, 25 ¼”h x 19 ¾”w at neat line plus margins.

A scarce 1916 persuasive map issued by the California Development Board to promote the state as a place to do business.

Some of the more interesting features include the depiction of the rail network with heavy black lines; dozens of steamer routes funneling into San Francisco Bay; and an inset map demonstrating that the land area of California alone exceeds that of 10 eastern states combined. A profusion of red lines gives the impression of a robust network of state highways, but in reality the system was in its infancy, and these lines merely indicate highways for which “surveys [have been] ordered” or “layouts made.” A long column of text at upper right lists the leadership and members of the California Development Board and describes its activities on behalf of the state.

The Board was formed in early 1910 through the merger of the California State Board of Trade, the Manufacturers and Producers Association of California, and the California Promotion Committee. Presided over by the Governor, with members representing both business and county governments, the Board’s mission was to advance the state’s economic development by marketing it to outsiders. It had its headquarters in San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building, where it distributed literature, answered inquiries, offered lectures, and ran promotional motion-picture films.

This map was reissued over a number of years, though the first version bore the variant title Geographical, Topographical and Railroad Map of California.) According to the Board’s Annual Report for 1914, the map was “entirely revised” that year. This 1916 version retains the 1914 format, but close inspection reveals numerous changes throughout. Despite the large print run, the map was ephemeral in nature and today is rather scarce.

Rumsey #5311 (1914 edition). OCLC # 22760298 gives three institutional holdings of this 1914 edition (as of April 2020), while other entries list editions of 1914, 1917 and 1918.


Old folds, with some wrinkling to upper-right corner and ridge margin, and a couple of faint marginal notations in red pencil.