Forgotten Landscapes of California

By Laura Cunningham


What were our cities and towns like 500 years ago? Explore the artwork of Laura Cunningham and take a walk back in time.

Stories of the Land
The field of historical ecology is growing, and by it we may understand how to live on the land in a more harmonious manner.

My book A State of Change : Forgotten Landscapes of California published by Heyday.

This website is a supplement to the book, and will provide updates and additional related information on the current and historical ecology of California and the West.

Walk on a trail back into time...

Art Show at the Merced CountyCourthouse Museum, through April 19, 2014. See www.mercedmuseum.org



^BEFORE: Grizzlies dine on fallen acorns under a Coast live oak near San Francisco Bay, centuries ago. The foreground is dug up by their long claws as they hunted for voles (Microtus californica) in the bunchgrass. The flats are mostly California oatgrass (Danthonia californica). Oil on cotton rag paper.

^AFTER: I photographed the same scene as it looks today: the parking lot of El Cerrito Plaza, with Albany Hill in the background. The summer fog has rolled in and obscured the distant view.

^BEFORE: San Francisco 500 years ago, looking eastward from the top of Nob Hill. Oil on panel.

^AFTER: The same scene today in San Francisco, Nob Hill. Tall buildings block the view.

^BEFORE: A huge California grizzly walks along a ridge in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains overlooking the San Fernando Valley.

^AFTER: The same scene today, the valley urbanized.

Book Subjects

Contents of this website, including all text, artwork, and photographs Copyright 2011 Laura Cunningham.  












“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

--Winston Churchill