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Early Auto Tourists
McCarthy Collection 

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William M. McCarthy had a passion for photography and travel.   He and his wife Grace made periodic auto trips across California, taking pictures at each stop.  These photographs of buildings, tourist attractions, and natural wonders provide a marvelous record of early “California Road Trips.”

William McCarthy was born in 1876, and died in 1956 at the age of 80.  He entered federal service at the Benicia Arsenal as an armament expert in 1903 and retired on January 1, 1933.  During World War I, William became the supervisor of the Pacific Coast armaments and continued in that capacity until his retirement. William’s wife, Grace C., was born in 1878 and died in 1957.  They were married for 56 years.  Having no children, William left his photographs to his niece who subsequently donated the collection to the California State Archives.

William M. McCarthy Photograph Collection,
California State Archives


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Portrait, William M. McCarthy, 1906.

Portrait, William M. McCarthy. 1906.


Portrait, Grace C. McCarthy, 1906.

Portrait, Grace C. McCarthy. 1906.


William and Grace McCarthy setting off on a California road trip.  Circa 1915.

William and Grace McCarthy setting off on a California road trip. Circa 1915.


San Francisco street scene, 1906.

San Francisco street scene. 1906.


Los Angeles street scene, 1910.

Los Angeles street scene. 1910.


Fairfield courthouse, 1915.

Fairfield courthouse. 1915.


Mission Carmel,  1915.

Mission Carmel. 1915.


Broadway, San Diego, July 18, 1915.

Broadway, San Diego. July 18, 1915.


Driving  through “dead giant” in Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite.  1917.

Driving through “dead giant” in Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite.  1917.


Placerville street scene, 1920.

Placerville street scene. 1920.


California-Nevada boundary line, 1927.

California-Nevada boundary line. 1927.


Bob’s  Service Station at Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles,  1935.

Bob’s Service Station at Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.  1935.


Opening day of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, “before the traffic started,”  November 12, 1936.

Opening day of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, “before the traffic started.”  November 12, 1936.


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