Fearing a west coast invasion during World War II, the U.S. Department of War collected airphotographs of all of Sonoma County in 1942. These photos are the earliest complete image of Sonoma County. The photos were collected on film and printed as thousands of hard copy (9" x 9") photos. Two complete hard copies remain - one at the University of California Berkeley and the other at Draftech in Santa Rosa.
Through a grant from the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) has digitized, georeferenced, and mosaiced a subset of the photos - those that comprise the Santa Rosa Plain. This dataset is useful for all manner of historical analysis such as understanding changes in land use and population, and tracking changes in vegetation and habitat over time.
Check out the embedded map below (click here for the full version) to easily compare what things looked like in 1942 to what they look like today in the Santa Rosa Plain. Watch out - it's addicting! You can also download the air photography here (700 MB .img file). If you want to use the photography as an ESRI image service, search ArcGIS.com for 'Sonoma County 1942'.
Click here for the full version