This hand drawn, detailed image of life in San Francisco in 1857 is a Bird's Eye View looking from the heights possibly of Nob Hill. The key in the lower margin of the print lists 13 locations shown in the view helping the viewer to locate the Market Street Pier, the Central Wharf, the Catholic Church, Leonard's Warehouse and other points of interest. Telegraph Hill as it is known today is at a considerable distance to the east of the viewer. In the print's key, this hill is importantly identified as Marine Telegraph. The view of the settled city is framed to the east by Rincon Point. The print is colored in blue and golden hues, evocative of the landscape of the West, and it reveals a still open and rural city bounded not so far to the west, and from the viewer's lookout, in pasture and a simple wood fence, where two figures enjoy the landscape. One main road, California Street is shown extending to the south bay. The California Exchange is the most prominent building in the City at this date, with its cupola and American flag. We see beyond the bay to Contra Costa and its hills.
The city has grown considerably from the first edition of Bill's History in 1850, although the print itself was copyrighted in 1843. The author of the History of the World was Samuel Maunder and the artist who created the print is Thomas S. Sinclair (1805-1881) who was born in Scotland in the Orkney Islands and settled in America in Philadelphia.
The California Gold Rush was declared in 1849 and transformed San Francisco into the newly busy and burgeoning city it became by the time the artist recorded this view. In addition, by 1857 San Francisco had a strategic West Coast location that served the maritime trade to the South Pacific. The Marine Telegraph is located on the highest point in the city overlooking the bay that in this print is filled with all manner of boats. Henry Bill's print San Francisco, 1857 is one of Americana's iconic American urban views .