Reclaiming San Francisco

Essay collection curated by City Lights detailing the history of San Francisco’s growth and political bent. Filled with good stuff, from articles on the horrible “weeding” done at the SF public library to fit into the new building with fancy computer equipment that quickly went out of date, to an article on early SF’s history of Shanghai-ing people into sea voyages to China with a dose of opium in their beer.
The story of San Francisco is a complex one. Filled with adventurers instead of the church-fearing people, the band of seamen, prospectors, shady characters started this small town, which underwent rapid growth during the Silver Rush (1860s). Millionaires would strike silver in the Comstock Lode, then immediately come back to SF to build their mansions on the hills of the city.
The city successfully repulsed several growth initiatives that would have turned SF into a Manhattan or Chicago skyline, and stymied the 1950s Highway movement by preventing freeways from being plopped into the city. Local citizens banded together to make the ubiquitous Cable Cars a historical treasure when they were slated for the scrap heap to make way for more cars. Tenant power and rent control, of which I am a beneficiary, came into its own only as recently as 1994.
Moscone and Milk’s assassination by Dan White (of the Twinkie Defense) put Diane Feinstein in the mayor’s seat. The non-profit “window-dressing” on the Presidio, the National Park System’s for-profit park. The murals in the Mission, Diego Rivera’s mural in the upscale social club downtown, suiciding off the Golden Gate bridge, the city’s land grab in Mission Bay to turn this landfill (watch out Earthquakes!) into the next spot of high rises. The 1994 “tourist bus” conceived by the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts where the bus went to several non-tourist spots, empty spaces, considering the meaning of tourism and the DIsneyfied image of San Francisco. Ken Dowlin painted as the villainous head librarian who used the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake to rid himself of the troubling excess of books at the public library.

auth=Brook, James
sub=History, Politics, Culture