This historical guidebook reveals new perspectives on San Francisco, and how it came to be the way it is.
Shaping San Francisco will change how you see the city, sending you into the streets to see the ghosts and remnants of a storied past still in plain view if you know where to look.
Historian and activist Chris Carlsson has been leading biking and walking tours of the San Francisco Bay Area for 25 years. He is steeped in the nitty-gritty of its history and ecology—the neighborhood lore, the flora, fauna and geography of its microclimates, the mixing and clashing of cultures, and the patterns of its history. Here, he draws from a quarter-century of research and investigation to tell the Bay Area's "history from below," the stories of everyday people often left out of the historical record. Instead of politicians, business moguls, and military leaders, here we find the streetcar workers, secretaries, waitresses, longshoremen, students and radicals who have repeatedly entered history to shape their own destinies.
Highlighting four essential themes of Ecology, Labor, Transit and Dissent, this book takes into account the long pre-history of the Bay and the people who lived here for millennia, and the deep underlying ecology that continues to shape the modern city. It foregrounds the work humans have done to radically alter the landscape, and the centrality of the clash between capital and labor that has shaped the course of the last 150 years.
Shaping San Francisco is a critical, political, sometimes whimsical excavation of San Francisco histories that are key to understanding the basic question: How did it turn out like this?