Category Archives: Beatnik

The Most Creative Spaces in San Francisco History, Part One

City Lights and The Fillmore:

The Most Creative Spaces in San Francisco History

Copyright Jim Marshall Photography LLC

Creativity and innovation are hallmarks of San Francisco, where a startup mentality continues to define us. We routinely set foot on the hallowed grounds of storied cultural landmarks—unprecedented venues at their inception that remain progressive icons today. Here, insiders reminisce on the impact of four classic SF institutions to remind us why they epitomize the city’s special spirit. In this installment, we start with City Lights and The Fillmore. Next week, we’ll continue with Castro Theatre and Stern Grove.

City Lights Bookstore, est. 1953. By Lawrence Ferlinghetti, cofounder, publisher, and poet

In 1953, San Francisco wasn’t what it is today. At that time, paperbacks were not considered real books in America. Peter Martin, an editor I met in North Beach, had the brilliant idea to open the first paperback bookstore in the U.S. My idea was to make City Lights a literary meeting place. I was used to the literary scene in Paris cafes and wanted to create a public place where people could hang out and read all day.

As soon as we got the doors open—we started off with one little room and slowly expanded—the store attracted people because there was such a void in that space. This was a brand-new scene. Back then, bookstores weren’t open on the weekends or late at night. We changed that. We were the first to introduce a periodicals section and the first to carry gay magazines. There was a lot of demand for this new culture, and we rode the wave. Comedians like Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl stopped in before gigs.

I was one of those New York carpet-bagging poets. I wasn’t really one of the Beats, but I got associated with them because I published them. City Lights, under my direction, was a publisher almost from the beginning, and this was another innovation—bookstores didn’t do that sort of thing. We printed Allen Ginsberg’s Howl in 1956, at the start of the poetry revolution. The Beats articulated what later became the themes of 1960s hippie counterculture, antiwar demonstrations, and ecological consciousness. Kerouac’s On the Road was a sad book, but it turned everybody on because it expressed what his generation was feeling. Sociologists said it articulated the end of American innocence.

In the late 1990s, we restored the City Lights building because of a required retrofit, but the inside remains mostly the same. You’ll still see locals reading in the basement or up in the poetry room. We have so many events there, but the tourists don’t generally know about them—they’re just passing through. We also get a lot of professors and students from all over the country and an enormous amount of foreign visitors. Today, there’s not a literary revolution as there was when City Lights opened. Today, we have the electronic revolution, which is wiping out so many bookstores. We’re benefitting from being among the few that have survived. We could soon be the last man standing.”

—As told to Chris Trenchard and Allison McCarthy

The Fillmore, est. 1966 By Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle music critic, 1972–2009

I saw my first show at the Fillmore in 1967: Chuck Berry and the Grateful Dead. It cost $3 to get in. There were two walls covered with lights. The stage was small. About 1,100 people, absorbed in sound and lights, crammed into the room. The experience was truly authentic.

And to think that bands like Led Zeppelin, The DoorsOtis ReddingHowlin’ Wolf, and the Grateful Dead all played on that tiny little stage. Bill Graham started renting the place from promoter Charles Sullivan in the ’60s. The thing was a success right from the word “go.” Bill wasn’t really a fan of rock music—he was originally a mambo dancer from New York. But he had plenty of street smarts. Over time, though, he figured out how to book that room. It became a tribal rite to play there, and that gave the Fillmore this kind of mystique. Groups like Traffic and Cream gave performances that ended up being fundamental to the acceleration of their careers. It became clear that this place was at the center of something very special. At the time, Chet Helms operated the Avalon Ballroom, which was the Fillmore’s primary competitor back then. He had this theory that the Fillmore’s Apollonian stage and proscenium were gateways to the gods. Promoters would leverage this mystique to get bands like Crosby, Stills, and Nash, who would normally play at much bigger theaters. Then in the early ’90s, Tom Petty played 20 or 30 shows there over the course of a few months. Petty was definitely building on that mystique. It was quite a different place then. The old stage now lies (almost completely hidden from view) underneath the newer, bigger stage. But the Fillmore is still a space steeped in history and the ghosts of great performers. The guy who does the booking now, Michael Bailey, really knows the thrill of fandom. He’s been shrewd about capitalizing on the legacy of the Fillmore in the ’60s. Bands today are aware of the mystique—who hasn’t heard Cream’s Wheels of Fire: Live at the Fillmore? And it’s still a damn fine place to see a show.”

This article was published in 7×7’s June issue. Click here to subscribe.

Literary San Francisco/ Mr. SF

 

LITERARY SAN FRANCISCO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, came to San Francisco in the early 1860s and found work as a reporter for the Daily Morning Call. The failed Confederate soldier and miner found his calling after writing burlesque under the name Josh and comic tales in the style of Artemus Ward. In San Francisco, Twain lived at the Occidental Hotel

Mark Twain

Cover of Mark Twain

and fondly compared Montgomery Street to Main Street in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri for he had made many acquaintances in a short time and was widely recognized walking along the downtown street. In the offices of the Golden Era at 732 Montgomery Street, which would have been in the Jackson Square area pictured here, Twain worked with a group of young writers including Bret Harte, who Twain credited with developing his talent. “He changed me from an awkward utterer of coarse grotesqueness to a writer of paragraphs and chapters that havefound a certain favor in the eyes of some of the very decentest people,” Twain said. As a reporter he covered the police, theatre, and society. Before going on to worldwide fame as the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and other works, his articles exposed police brutality, abuse of the Chinese, and political corruption. For the Golden Era, he wrote, “The Washoe Wit: Mark Twain on the Rampage.”

Jack Kerouac authored the American classic On the Road and influenced an entire generation more than fifty

Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palumbo, circ...

Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palumbo, circa 1956 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

years ago and just ahead of the rock and roll revolution. North Beach resident Kerouac tells the mostly autobiographical story of Sal Paradise (Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty (friend Neal Cassady), who find a kind of personal liberation and respite from mundane conformity by hitting the road from the east coast to California. What follows is a travelogue of American days and nights and people who “burn like fabulous roman candles.” With his

rebels-without-a-cause story line and spontaneous, unconventional writing style, Kerouac became a pop icon and celebrity. His work details a life of tumultuous friendships and social isolation anesthetized by caustic wit as well as drugs and alcohol. Kerouac died in 1969 in his late 40s.The original manuscript of On the Road, seen here, was written on 128 feet of  tracing paper fashioned by Kerouac with tape to form a continuous scroll. The manuscript, a stream of consciousness without interruption, was created in New York during a 20-day writing binge. The manuscript was purchased for $2.43 million by Indiana Colts ower James Irsay on May 22, 2001. The sum is the most ever paid for a literary work.

Danielle Steel  An air of romantic secrecy emanates from her Pacific Heights mansion
. The author, who recently published her 50th best selling title, lives a life more dramatic than that of the most harried heroine from her many romance novels including Passion’s Promise, Now and Forever, A Perfect Stranger, and No Greater Love. In childhood Steel survived polio and cancer. Among her five husbands are a convicted bank robber/rapist and a heroin addict/burglar. Later husbands include a Silicon Valley investor and John Traina, a vintner and film producer who owns one of the world’s largest Fabergé collections. Steel herself is Saks Fifth Avenue’s best customer here. In recent years she has survived the heroin death of her 19 year-old son, as well as a relationship with actor George Hamilton. An international traveler, Steel’s lavish home base is the 55-room mansion at Washington and Octavia which was built in 1912 for Adolph and Alma de Bretteville Spreckles.

Dashiell Hammett is the exemplar of 20th Century noir detective writers.
San Francisco’s foggy streets and mysterious atmosphere were a perfect match for Hammett’s dame-and-gumshoe imagination. The Thin Man, Black Mask, and Maltese Falcon author lived in this Tenderloin apartment building, 891 Post Street #401, one of his many San Francisco addresses in the 1920s. Hammett worked as a private eye for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in the Flood Building on Market Street before his success as America’s author of crime and murder fiction. Completists will find an ersatz descendant, Pinkerton Security Services, at 731 Market.

Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)

Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rudyard Kipling  said that San Francisco is a mad City inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people whose women are of remarkable beauty,” said . Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865. Educated in England, he returned to India in 1892 and wrote for Anglo-Indian newspapers. He became famous for writing short stories of sympathetic soldiers. Works include Soldiers Three, Barrack Room Ballads, The Jungle Book, The Second Jungle Book, Captains Courageous, Just So Stories, Actions and Reactions, and Limits and Renewals. Kipling visited the City in 1889. He thought the place was barbaric but he liked its cable car system – an innovation that was only a couple of years old at the time – and its women. During his lifetime, Kipling was a Nobel Prize winning man of letters. He died in 1936. Of San Francisco Kipling added, “‘Tis hard to leave.”

Allen Ginsberg on October 13th, 1955 gave the first public reading of his poem Howl at this location, then the Six Gallery, at 3119 Fillmore Street. When the subversive rage against materialism was published in 1956 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights, the Beat movement had arrived. Worldwide media focused on the sensational First Amendment trial defended by City Lights after copies of the slim volume were seized by members of the San Francisco Police Department and U.S. Customs. The government claimed the poem was obscene and without redeeming social value because it used dirty words and blunt descriptions of gay sex. The vindication of Howl in a courtroom on September 9, 1957 paved the way for future generations of provocative literature by establishing obscenity criteria. Howl went on to become one of the most widely read poems of the 20th Century and was translated into more than twenty languages. Ginsberg became a Distinguished Professor at Brooklyn College in New York near the end of a prolific career and remained active in the literary community until his death in 1997.

Hunter S. Thompson is the acclaimed journalist and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas who lived in this building at 318 Parnassus when he was researching his book Hell’s Angels. Thompson introduced the outlaw motorcycle club to mainstream America in 1967 with the book, which Thompson researched by partying with Hell’s Angels members. In typical San Francisco fashion, neighbors were undisturbed when Thompson shot out a window here with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .44 magnum, but complained when the Hell’s Angels parked their motorcycles on the sidewalk. More recently, Hunter S. Thompson wrote a column for the new San Francisco Examiner.

Jack London has a small street named for him which can be found on either side of South Park, a couple of blocks from the author’s birthplace on Third Street near Brannan. The short life of Jack London, who died of uremic poisoning at the age of 40 in 1916, was rich with adventure. The unwanted son of a spiritualist medium was raised in Oakland by his mother and a financially hapless stepfather. As a teenager, London lived on the edge on the Oakland waterfront, raiding the bay’s oyster beds and laboring in a cannery and jute mill. Later, he sailed with a sealing crew off Japan and Siberia then went on a vagabond’s tour across America. He joined the gold rush to the Klondike at 21. A veracious reader and writer whose stories were inspired by his travels, prolific London was writing two books a year and scores of articles in the late 1890s. America’s first working class writer, London was an avowed Socialist who reveled in his financial success, which he saw as a victory over the Capitalists as the U.S. entered into a tumultuous transition from laissez-faire to corporate capitalism.

Armistead Maupin created a phenomenon when he started writing Tales of the City as a column for the Chronicle in the 1970s. Reformatted and published as books in the ’80s then television films in the ’90s, Tales of the City is unmatched as a diary, however fictional, of San Franciscans. The entire range from secretaries and waiters to TV hosts, movie stars and international criminals are included as characters in Maupin’s tales as they are in San Francisco’s own true story. The adventures of Tales heroine Mary Ann Singleton predate the Chronicle serial, having first appeared in the San Francisco edition of the Pacific Sun. As in real life, most of Maupin’s characters keep one eye on their secrets while looking for love in the bay city. In addition to characters based
on popular public figures, the tales take place in well known City locations. Maupin’s alter ego, Michael Tolliver, wins a dance contest at the Endup but nearly loses the love of his life when Dr. Jon Fielding and his snooty Pacific Heights friends walk in during the finals.While Macondray Lane on Russian Hill is accepted as the Tales of the City location, 28 Barbary Lane, Maupin actually lived in several apartments on Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill from the time he moved to the City in the early ’70s. The tales debuted in the Chronicle on May 24, 1976. Later, Maupin moved to Noe Street in the Castro before settling in Cole Valley. Since everything about Tales of the City is a composite of real life, you can be sure that Maryann, Michael, Mona Ramsey, Brian Hawkins, landlady Anna Madrigal, and others all crossed the thresholds of these locations:

384 Vallejo Street
308 Greenwich Street
60 Alta Street
226A Filbert Street
331 Filbert Street
1138 1/2 Union Street
665 1/2 Noe Street (Noe/Castro Hill)
[Napier Lane]

William Saroyan, Flamboyant writer and humanitarian,  became a literary sensation at the age of 26 when his story, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, was published by Story magazine in 1932. Around that time he lived at 348 Carl Street. His play, “The Time of Your Life,” was drawn from characters and situations at a well known Pacific Avenue (then Pacific Street) pub owned by Izzy Gomez. In “The Time of Your Life,” the principal setting is “Nick’s,” #3 Pacific. If the address still existed, it would be located at the end of a pedestrian walkway between Buildings 1 and 2 of the Golden Gateway Commons. Off stage action occurs at nearby Pier 27. Saroyan, who called himself “The World’s Greatest Writer,” won the Pulitzer Prize for the play but declined it and the $1,000 purse, insisting that commerce should not drive the arts. Saroyan’s novel The Human Comedy draws from his own experiences as a messenger in his native Fresno. Unique among writers, Armenian American Saroyan advanced Armenian culture as an important source of literary inspiration. Saroyan once said, “No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does. Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living.”

Amy Tan‘s ground-breaking fiction demonstrates the power of the mother-daughter relationship to overcome adversity. The Oakland-born Asian-American achieved acclaim with The Joy Luck Club in 1989. Her work includes the novels The Kitchen God’s Wife (1991), The Hundred Secret Senses (1995), and The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2001), in addition to essays, children’s books, and screenplays. Her literature is characterized by themes of generational dissonance and immigrant issues. As a pop culture icon she has been a character on The Simpsons and is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock group whose members include Dave Barry, Tad Bartimus, Roy Blount, Jr., Kathi Goldmark, Simpson’s creator Matt Groening, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Ridley Pearson, and Joel Selvin. Tan lives in San Francisco and New York with her husband, Lou DeMattei.

Kay Boyle lived in this house at 419 Frederick Street in the 1970s when she taught at San Francisco State College. American-born Boyle left the U.S. and lived in Paris during the years between World War I and WWII. She earned a reputation as one of the greatest writers of that era. Boyle’s novels include Plagued by the Nightingale and Year Before Last. She was also celebrated for her story collections; Wedding Day, and First Lover, as well as for her poetry; A Glad Day and Selected Poems.

Dorothy Bryant a native San Franciscan and feminist writer  is the author of 12 novels, two nonfiction works, and four plays. “A Day in San Francisco” is Bryant’s controversial mother-son take on gay life in the City on the eve of the 1980 Gay Freedom Day Parade. Her 1986 novel “Confessions of Madame Psyche” is so realistic in emotional truth and historic detail about early 20th Century life in San Francisco and the Bay Area that most readers forget this is a fictional work. Bryant, the daughter of northern Italian immigrants, taught English and music in high schools and community colleges for 23 years. She lives in Berkeley, where she and her husband run the independent publishing company, Ata Books.

Ambrose Bierce came long before Caen, Hoppe, DelaplaneMorse, or Hinckle; ages before both Matier and Ross.Bierce created the first recognized newspaper column in the U.S. His “Prattles” ran in the Examiner for thirty years beginning in the late 1800s. Bierce continued a style of news commentary and reportage he used earlier in his “Telegraphic Jottings,” and in the News Letter’s “Town Crier.” His rapier criticism and bold satirical invective was aimed at just about everything and everybody corrupt in the eyes of Bierce. He took on other writers and even the Examiner. With that his aim was to “purify journalism in this town by instructing such writers as it is worthwhile to instruct, and assassinating those that it is not.” Blurring the line between social philosopher and humorist, Bierce was a self appointed hypocrisy detector. He wrote, “Truth is better than anything or all things; the next best thing to truth is the absence of error.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once occupied the Lafayette Heights residence at 2151 Sacramento Street the plaque on the wall.  Actually, Conan Doyle only visited for a few hours when this was the home of an associate, Dr. Abrams. Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, visited San Francisco once in his lifetime, in late May and early June of 1923. The author and his wife stayed at the Clift Hotel during Conan Doyle’s second and final lecture tour in the U.S. Though Conan Doyle’s stay was brief, his character Dr. Watson was married and practiced medicine in the City, according to a Conan Doyle play. One wonders what influence, if any, the exaggerated Sacramento Street plaque, which was placed by an owner of the house in the 1970s, has on the property’s value.

Herb Caen is one of a kind in the world but he is first and foremost a San FranciscanThe Sacramento native was hired by Chronicle editor Paul Smith in the late 1930s at the age of 20. Smith was a wonderkind who at 26 didn’t want to be the youngest person on the paper’s staff. After initially writing sports, Caen became known in all corners of the City for his man about town column, It’s News to Me, which debuted on July 5, 1938. He continued to chronicle the City for 58 years, guided by his instincts, his daily deadline, and his love for San Francisco. With a front seat at the epicenter of the City’s politics and society, the town belonged to him and him to it. There wasn’t a coming or going by a man, woman, or natural phenomenon here that wasn’t observed by Caen and distilled at the Loyal Royal, his well-worn manual typewriter. With his own brand of nostalgia and reportage he gave the City a voice nearly as natural as if the hills had spoken for themselves. In addition to lighter observations and gossip about visiting celebrities, Caen eloquently and poetically captured insights about this land and its people like no other writer before or since. Sometimes controversial, admired by countless readers throughout the 20th Century, Caen succumbed to cancer in 1997 less than a year after winning the Pulitzer Prize.

Ruth Witt-Diamant, who founded the San Francisco Poetry Center in 1954, hosted many famous poets in her guestroom when she owned the house at this address, 1520 Willard Street. Among the writers who slept here were Anais Nin, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Stephen Spender, and Theodore Roethke.

Barnaby Conrad, author, artist, and raconteur  is the founding director of the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference and the author of more than 27 books including Tahiti, La Fiesta Brava, Gates of Fear, San Francisco, Dangerfield, How to Fight a Bull, Famous Last Words, Hemingway’s Spain, Learning to Write Fiction from the Masters and The World of Herb Caen. The native San Franciscan is also a former vice consul to Spain, amateur bullfighter, art teacher, and onetime secretary to novelist Sinclair Lewis. He studied art at the Academie Julien in Paris and named his former North Beach night spot after his successful 1952 novel, Matador. His 1994 memoir Name Dropping: Tales from My Barbary Coast Saloon is, as the title suggests, a collection of gossip and stories from El Matadorwhich was located at 492 Broadway and known by regulars as “the Mat.” From the book: “The night Ava Gardner first came into El Matador she was sober and gorgeous. But two hours later she had snatched a bullfighter’s hat off the wall and was doing a torrid, if lurching, flamenco solo on the bar, her skirt hiked up around her waist, while her anonymous escort looked pained and the customers applauded.” Gardner’s inelegant turn notwithstanding, The Mat set a standard for elegant socializing in North Beach the likes of which has not been seen since the 1950s. Conrad, who founded the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference in 1972, is also the artist of a portrait of Bing Crosby that graces the receiving room of the Crosby mansion in Hillsborough.

Journalist and author Frances Bret Harte was the editor of San Francisco’s successful Overland Monthly when he published his story, “The Luck of the Roaring Camp” which brought him instant and wide fame in the late 1860s. Luck was the child of a camp prostitute raised with the help of altruistic miners in Victorian society. Much of Harte’s work features some kind of reprobate who’s redeemed by sacrifice and self denial. In 1870 his stories and his respected work at the helm of the Overland Monthly earned him a then lucrative $10,000 a year contract writing one poem or story per month for the Atlantic Monthly. Harte left California but not before his work greatly

Portrait of Bret Harte 1868 from Overland Mont...

Portrait of Bret Harte 1868 from Overland Monthly, August 1920 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

influenced local color fiction here and elsewhere. His work elevated and romanticized Gold Rush denizens for a culture that was ready to listen. The same year, 1870, Harte wrote the poem, “Plain Language from Truthful Jim,” aka “The Heathen Chinee” which was easily exploited by racists for its unflattering portrayal of a Chinese card shark and the pronouncement by its narrator that “We are ruined by cheap Chinese labor.” During and after his run with the Atlantic Monthly, Harte’s career took him to New York, Boston, Glasgow, and Crefeld, Germany. Harte later lived in England where he wrote marginal stories using familiar material.

San Franciscan Jewelle Gomez is the esteemed activist and author of the award-winning novel, The Gilda Stories. Recent works include Forty Three Septembers (a book of personal and political essays), Don’t Explain (a collection of short fiction), and a Gilda stage adaptation entitled, “Bones & Ash: a Gilda Story.” Gomez is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship and two California Arts Council fellowships. She has served on literary panels including the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council and the San Francisco Arts Commission. In addition to numerous anthologies, Gomez’s fiction, essays, criticism and poetry have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Village Voice; The Advocate, Ms Magazine, Essence Magazine, and Black Scholar. Gomez recently served three years as executive director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State University. She frequently lectures at universities throughout the U.S. and is currently working on a comic novel about 1960s black activists facing middle age.

Robert Louis Stevenson came to San Francisco in August, 1879. A few months later he rented a room in the narrow three-story wooden building which then stood at 608 Bush Street. This plaque on the building at the Bush Street location commemorates Stevenson’s presence in San Francisco, as does a memorial at Portsmouth Square. While living at #608, Stevenson wrote From Jest to Earnest as well as essays about Benjamin Franklin and William Penn and a dime novel that he later abandoned.

Tom Wolfe‘ s 1968 best seller The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is a record of the hippie movement that the New York Times Book Review likened to Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Armies of the Night, a historical novel of the Vietnam protest movement. Wolfe rode around with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters in a bus driven by Kerouac cohort Neal Cassady. Wolfe’s brilliant book details the road trip and acid parties, the “acid tests,” given by the band of hippies and attended by Hunter S. ThomsponAllen Ginsberg, the Grateful Dead,Wavy Gravy, and many, many other leaders and followers of the psychedelic movement. Two acid tests were given in San Francisco among others in Palo Alto, La Honda, Los Angeles, Mexico, and Portland, Oregon. The acid tests were the epoch of the psychedelic lifestyle. Wolfe is also the author of The Right Stuff, for which he was given the American Book Award for nonfiction, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Harold Vursell Award for prose style, and the Columbia Journalism Award.

George Sterling called San Francisco “The Cool, Grey City of Love.” The poet was born into an old Puritan family on Long Island in 1869. Young Sterling left Catholic study after he picked up poetry and moved to Oakland. He was later befriended by writers Jack London and Ambrose Bierce. Sterling referred to his mentor Bierce, with whom he had a tumultuous association, as “the Master.” Sterling made a name for himself with the publication of “A Wine of Wizardry” in 1907. He is closely associated with the Bohemian Club and is sometimes called “the King of Bohemian San Francisco” or “the last classic Bohemian.” Sterling wrote and directed a number of plays for the club’s world famous summertime High Jinks, and commited suicide in his room at the club on Sutter Street in 1926. Two years later, a park on Russian Hill was christened in Sterling’s honor. In 1982, the George Sterling Glade was restored by a committee lead by Don Herron, Bill Kostura, and John Law.

William Bronson is the author of “The Earth Shook, the Sky Burned,” published in 1959. The collection of stories and more than 400 photos of the devastation from the April 18, 1906 Earthquake and of the City that rose from the ashes remains the definitive book on the disaster. Bronson, a third generation Californian, began his literary career at the age of nine when he sold newspapers on a City street corner.

Fritz Leiber is one of the world’s foremost authors of science fiction fantasies. Among his many acclaimed works is Our Lady of Darkness. The supernatural horror novel was written at 811 Geary Street, where Leiber and his alter ego, lead character Franz Weston, lived. In the novel, San Francisco literary icons Dashiell HammettGeorge Sterling, and Jack London appear as characters in flashback sequences. Leiber’s most famous novel is 1943’s Conjure Wife, which portrays all women as witches who control the world’s men. Leiber, who died in 1992 at the age of 82, is a multiple Hugo Award winner.

California’s first Poet Laureate and the first woman member of the Bohemian Club, Ina Donna Coolbrith is not only a pioneer in literature, she’s also a Pioneer. Coolbrith came to California on the back of a horse at the age of ten after her widowed mother denounced the Mormons and headed West with a new husband. Led by mountain guide James P. Beckwith, the family arrived in California from Illinois in September, 1852. Raised in Los Angeles, a young Coolbrith became a published poet. After a bad marriage, she reinvented herself and moved to San Francisco at the age 20. Her life here is marked by her distinguished career as a librarian and, with Charles Warren Stoddard and Bret Harte, as a member of “the Golden Gate Trinity,” the editors of the Overland Monthly. Coolbrith was a friend and mentor to three generations of writers including Mark Twain, Isadora Duncan, and Jack London. Though she achieved world acclaim, Coolbrith is perhaps equally famous for something she didn’t write. When the fire of 1906 burned her flat at 1406 Taylor Street, all of her notes were destroyed. Coolbrith’s lost history of literary California is akin to a record of the Italian Renaissance were it not to include the The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini. Among her accomplishments, Coolbrith was the first librarian of the Oakland Public Library. Born Josephine Donna Smith, her name is a composite of her birth name, a nom de plume, and her mother’s maiden name. A park dedicate in honor of Coolbrith is located near the Taylor Street address. With beautiful views and layers of walks and gardens, it is the pride of Russian HIll.

Frank Norris is best remembered for his 1899 novel, McTeague, the sordid story of a Polk Gulch dentist. Norris died in 1902 at the age of 32, but made his mark with naturalistic novels influenced by the work of Emile Zola. In his short but storied life, Norris studied art in Paris, attended Harvard University for a year, worked in South Africa as a travel writer, and covered the Spanish-American War in Cuba for McClure’s. Norris’ observations as a journalist covering the local scene for The Wave between 1891-1898 provided the writer with material for McTeague and his other San Francisco novels, Blix, and Vandover and the Brute. The alley named in honor of Norris is located off Larkin Street between Bush and Pine. McTeague became the basis for Erich Von Stroheim’s silent epic,Greed

As a teenager, Dr. Maya Angelou’s love for the arts won her a scholarship
to study dance and drama in San Francisco’s during World War II, she attended George Washington High School while studying dance and drama on a scholarship at the California Labor School. Before graduating, she worked as the first Black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco.  Three weeks after completing school, at the age of 17, she gave birth to her son, Clyde, who also became a poet. Maya Angelou  born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928)[3] is an American author and poet. She has published six autobiographies, five books of essays, numerous books of poetry, and is credited with a long list of plays, movies, and television shows. She is one of the most decorated writers of her generation, with dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first and most highly acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her first seventeen years, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

City Lights Bookstore on Columbus Avenue is an enduring icon of North Beach and a valuable resource for new voices in literature. Founded byLawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953, City Lights became the center of gravity for the Beat movement. Still owned by San Francisco’s former Poet Laureate, Mr. Ferlinghetti, City Lights continues to support freethinking writers and poets who fall under the mainstream radar.

Unmistakable with its cave like entrance at 916 Grant, Li Po’s is a Chinatown literary bar named for the erudite Chinese poet Li Po (701-762). Li Po’s work celebrates natural beauty, love, friendship, solitude, and drink. He is one of the great poets of the Tang Dynasty, China’s Golden Age of poetry. (The Lipo bar has lost some its charm since its owners installed a TV for sports watching.)

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About Old S.F.

 

About Old S.F. (One our favorite sites here at ExploreSF)

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— credit for that massive undertaking belongs entirely to the
Library.

Who built this site?

The site was built by @danvdk and designed by @ravejk.Nob Hill 1896

What did this site do?

The creators of this site associated latitudes and longitudes to the images in
the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection at the San Francisco Public Library, located in the Main Branch on the 6th floor. This process is known as geocoding. Doing this
allows the images to be placed at points on a map, which enables new ways of
exploring this collection.

 

How were they geocoded?

The geocodes are based on two sources:

  1. Photo Subjects. All photographs in the “City Hall (old)”
    series presumably belong in the same place. We manually geocoded several
    hundred subjects.
  2. Addresses and Cross-Streets. The photo descriptions often contain
    either an address, block number or set of cross-streets. These were
    converted to coordinates using the Google
    Geocoding API
    .

What’s the story of this project?

1945-1

Several years ago, I searched for my cross-streets
on the Library’s San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection and found the
photo on the right. The image was mislabeled — the intersection in the
foreground is actually Waller and Fillmore, not Waller and Webster. Which
meant that this photo from 1945 was taken from my roof!

I put together a now-and-then
shot, but it always bothered me that the mislabeling of the image was so
crucial to my finding it. This led to the idea of putting the images on a
map.

And now, years later, we have that map!

What fraction of the images have been geocoded?

The library’s collection contains about 40,000 images. Many of these
photographs have little geographic context (e.g. they’re portraits) and
cannot be located. In all, about 20,000 of the images could be placed on aHaight- Ashbury Hippies  during the 1967 Summer of Love San Francisco, Ca
map. We’ve geocoded about 65% of the possible images: 13,000.

How can you help?

If you’re technically minded, here’s a JSON file containing all the image
descriptions, as well as geocodes for the records on the map (including the
reason I thought they were at that location): records.js.zip (2MB download).
If you improve on my geocoding or do something else interesting with the data,
please share your results!

via About Old S.F..

 

 

 

 

To see this collection in person or to order reprints please come to The San Francisco Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 Telephone (415) 557-4567, email: info@sfpl.org
The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, located in the San Francisco History Center on the 6th floor, contains photographs and works on paper of San Francisco and California views from 1850 to the present. The Collection is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5 and Saturdays 10-12 & 1-5

More about the collection

Explore the Library’s Geocoded Images On Old S.F.!

Two Construction Workers on the Golden Gate Bridge

 

Two construction workers on the Golden Gate Bridge

Date
September 18, 1935
Photo ID#
AAD-0884



About the Photo Collection

Photo Collection

The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection contains photographs and works on papers of San Francisco and California scenes ranging from 1850 to the present. This collection includes views of San Francisco street scenes, buildings, and neighborhoods, as well as photographs of famous San Francisco personalities. The collection consists mostly of the photo morgue of the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, a daily newspaper, ranging from 1920s to 1965. The collection also contains albums, slides, postcards, cabinet cards, stereoviews, and lantern slides of San Francisco and California subjects.

Copies of images may be ordered with the Reproduction of Images Form (PDF 31K). Many of the photographs are available for commercial use when a Permission to Publish Form (PDF 40K) has been submitted.

The collection may be viewed in two ways: through the online database on the San Francisco Public Library website, which contains 40,000 digitized images from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, or in person during photo desk open hours.

Looking up in the atrium of the main branch of...

Looking up in the atrium of the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, California, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When viewing the collection in person, only a limited number of photographs may be examined at one time. Library users will be provided with gloves to wear while examining the photographs. The photographs are to be handled by the edges only and held securely on two sides. The following items are not to be used in contact with the photographs: pressure sensitive tapes, all types of glues, paper clips, elastic bands, staples, pins, pens or pencils. Photocopying of photographs is harmful to the image and is not allowed. Photographs may be reproduced through a photo lab of the Library’s choice, through the Library scanning service or through a scheduled photo shoot. See Order Images for details.

For further information about the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection please call 415-557-4567 during open hours.

via About the Photo Collection :: San Francisco Public Library.

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The Beat Museum

The Beats Go On In San Francisco Museum

Jerry Cimino digs those beatnik poets: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and — oh, man — Jack Kerouac. When he read Kerouac’s “On the Road,” the spirit of adventure and honesty “really spoke to me,” Cimino said. “They were writers and musicians and artists who were following their passion.”

For years, Cimino, 51, worked in the computer industry and quietly built up a collection of Beat memorabilia. Finally, he decided to devote himself full time to his passion. “I wanted to do something that would really change people’s lives, and I think the spirit of the Beats can do that,” he said.

This month he opened the Beat Museum in San Francisco, which he calls “the cultural epicenter of the Beat Generation.” The museum features Cimino’s collection of photos, letters and first editions. The grand opening coincided with the arrival at the San Francisco Public Library of Kerouac’s manuscript for “On the Road” — a 120-foot-long scroll the author taped together so he wouldn’t have to interrupt his flow by shoving new sheets of paper into his typewriter. Hundreds of people have already passed through the Beat Museum, and locals are adding more to the collection.

The message, Cimino says, is simply this: “You can follow your passions later in life, too. Do what you want to do.”

 

The Beat Museum.

 

 

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Jack Kerouac Play to Make World Premiere

Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac (Photo credit: Squirmelia)

NEW YORK AP — Jack Kerouac, who gained notoriety and celebrity as a beatnik in 1950’s San Francisco’s hipster community centered in North Beach, would be celebrating his 90th birthday year. In honor of his life and work, his only full-length play will be staged for the first time this fall.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the University of Massachusetts Lowell said Monday — on what would have been Kerouacs 90th birthday — that they will produce the three-act play called “Beat Generation” in the novelists hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts.

The premiere of the play — a staged reading for eight performances only — will be the centerpiece of the 2012 Jack Kerouac Literary Festival, which will be held Oct. 10 through Oct. 14.

Kerouac wrote “Beat Generation” — which draws on his life and those of other Beat writers, including Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg — in 1957, the same year his classic “On the Road” was released.

Lucien Carr

Kerouac Image via Wikipedia

He tried to build interest for “Beat Generation” in the theater world, contacting such people as Lillian Hellman and Marlon Brando, but he failed and set the manuscript aside. Kerouac died in 1969.

The manuscript was found in a warehouse in 2005.”This is a moment of literary and theatrical history,” said Charles Towers, artistic director of the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, which also produced a stage adaptation of Kerouacs Lowell-set romance, “Maggie Cassidy.“Kerouacs other books include “Doctor Sax,” The Subterraneans,” The Dharma Bums” and his final great work, “Big Sur.” His first published novel was “The Town and the City.”The authors first actual novel, the 158-page “The Sea is My Brother,” was published Monday, in honor of the writers birthday. The work, written when Kerouac was 21, is the tale of two young men serving on a voyage from Boston to Greenland.___Online: http://www.uml.edu/kerouacplay

 

 

Related articles

San Francisco - North Beach: Jack Kerouac Alley

San Francisco - North Beach: Jack Kerouac Alley (Photo credit: wallyg)

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SF Graffiti Art: Banksy Artwork Dots the City

One nation under CCTV. "Banksy art is gra...

Banksy in England Image via Wikipedia

Originating from the UK, famous, admired, despised (and wanted) street artistBanksy has left mark(s) in many cities around the world. With the recent opening of controversial documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop revealing Banksy‘s life of art and crime, its limited release in select US cities may have facilitated the artist visiting each major city the film opened in to leave a Banksy piece at the time of each opening. On the West CoastLos Angeles got a coupleSeattle allegedly received at least one, and locals estimate that San Francisco was hit six times.

Banksy has a lot of fans in San Francisco — as the pieces appeared, people who spotted them expressed both excitement and delight. We’re sure the property owners may not feel the same way (unless they “monetize it” like this man in London did, capitalizing on the worth of a Banksy as fetched by art collectors).

On Thursday April 22, Kat Cuffe caught the Chinatown piece, while Rebecca Morehiser shot it when the paint was still wet (9:33 AM) — the find was officially broken by Warholian, who has extensive Banksy SF coverage. At the same time across The City in the Mission,Erin Archuleta got to work only to be surprised by a fresh Banksy across the street from her office at Valencia and 20th, and got the first post up.

 

Friday April 23rd saw Scott Rafer finding the “Native American” Banksy (again in the Mission) on the side of Cafe Prague on Sycamore. Meanwhile, SOMA residents and workers awoke to a new Banksy at 9th and Howarddiscovered by Jean Hackman. The last two were collectively found: all were photographed beautifully in this Flickr set by Thomas Hawk. Each new SF Banksy has been named, mapped and documented here in great detail by Warholian Pics (video via).

 

 

 

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CHINATOWN AND NORTHBEACH AT NIGHT

DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE STREET, WORLDS APART. NIGHTLY TOURS,YEAR ROUND!
This tour is very social, we have fun and friendships are made. Maybe its because it’s the wine or exotic teas, the good food, the company or the vibrant area, but if you are looking for a relaxed and interesting evening with delicious food, you cannot go wrong with this fun event. The air scented with incense and spice invites us as we begin the evening with gourmet tea in Chinatown. We may sample Dim Sum, or other Cantonese, Sichuanese, Hunanese, but primarily it will be Americanized Hong Kong style cuisine on our leisurely stroll. We’ll see the oldest Chinese temple in America, the oldest Catholic Cathedral on the West Coast, the oldest Chinese bakery in the US, we will see workers make fortune cookies in their factory , delight in the flower stalls, street musicians playing ancient Chinese instruments,  shop the produce vendors, explore an herbalist shop, pass former opium dens, gambling halls and houses of ill repute. After going through the back alleys of Chinatown, where the local residents lead their daily lives, we cross over into North Beach entering through Kerouac alley, birthplace of the beatniks…

Welcome to San Francisco’s Little Italy, the city’s most charming neighborhood with a checkered past. We’ll see the bar where the beatniks drank and the bookstore where they read their works. Both of these establishments are still going strong! You’ll see Columbus Tower: “The Godfather” Building. We’ll cross Broadway,” The Strip Club Strip”, we’ll see the club where Carol Doda danced for decades. Shortly afterwards, the St. Francis of Assisi Church which is a national Roman Catholic shrine and the Fifth Seat of the Pope. We’ll walk along the border of the legenday American Barbary Coast. We’ll work our way up Columbus past bustling sidewalk cafes, where the air smells like freshly baked bread, garlic and espresso. Passing pottery shops, bakeries, trattorias, pizzarias, delicatessens and bars,
we’ll see famed Washingon Square and Sts. Peter and Paul Church( where Joe DiMaggion and
Marylin Monroe were not married) . We’ll eat again and finish the evening with good
conversation, laughter, wine or coffee and smiles all around.

 

When: Nightly. If space is not available online please call the info-line.
Cost: $69. Food included. 
Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs) 
Reservations Onlinehttp://exploresanfrancisco.tix.com
More Information: 415.793.1104
E-mail: info@ExploreSanFrancisco.biz 

Additionally, we also offer separate tours of:

North Beach     &       Chinatown

 

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Haight Street, spend an afternoon in the Summer Of Love

HAIGHTASHBURY TOUR!
 PEACE! LOVE! FOOD! FUN!∞

SPEND AN AFTERNOON IN THE SUMMER OF LOVE!♥

HAIGHT STREET! (Haight-Ashbury)


The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of the 1960s is still very much alive
and well today. “The Haight“, as it is now known was officially established
in 1883 and today is a vibrant urban village. It is one of San Francisco’s
most fascinating areas. Beautiful Victorians, tree lined streets, unique little
shops, thrift stores, head shops, cafes, street performers, and a wide variety
of restaurants serving food from around the world will
make this an afternoon you will never forget.

Our menu will be eclectic as Haight Street has a very high restaurant per block ratio.
And the choices always changing but in the past we have had: assorted Thai food,
tacos, burritos, tortas, Japanese, crepes, Indian, healthy and not so healthy, chai,
burgers, NY syle pizza, freshy made gourmet chocolate, freshly ground coffee, gourmet
tea or a local micro-brew. . And our walk will be leisurely, with no major hills to climb.
Because with all of that eating who wants to walk far?

You’ll learn about the colorful history of this historic area as westroll this lively and lovely neighborhood. As we go, we’ll be pointing out places that aren’t in the guide books and that you’d probably miss on your own. You’ll be seeing the neighborhood as a local….

 

When: Fridays 2:00pm

 

Cost: $85

 

 

 

Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs) 
Reservations Online: http://exploresanfrancisco.tix.com

 

 

 

More Information: 415.793.1104
E-mail: info@ExploreSanFrancisco.biz

 

Explore North Beach

 

 

North Beach is a food lover’s paradise and we are delighted to be taking
you there. As you enter this neighborhood you will begin to notice the scent
of baking bread and the aroma of strong coffee. On our tour we may sip wine,
drink coffee, try authentic pizza, olives, italian meats, freshly made chocolate,
freshly baked foccaccia, desserts or more!

All of our tours are rich in history and this neighborhood has a wonderful
past to share. Italian fishermen, beatniks, hipsters, poets, comedians, The
Barbary Coast, Gold Rush fortune seekers, Shanghai Dens, Joe DiMaggio,
Carol Doda, Beach Blanket Babylon, nightime thrill seekers, sailors, socialists,
all of these have helped shape North Beach into the rare gem that it is today.

Along with the wonderful food wine and espresso and all the history we will
see some amazing sites such as: Washington Square Park, St. Francis of Assisi
Church- which is a National Shrine and the 5th Holy Site of the Catholic Church,
Saints Peter and Paul Church where Joe Dimaggio and Marylin Monroe posed for
wedding pictures , Coit Tower, Hotel La Boheme, Molinari’s, cable cars, pottery
shops, sidewalk cafes, Kerouac Alley, City Lights Bookstore– where the beatniks
read their work, Vesuvio’s, The North Beach Museum, The city’s oldest saloon
The Beat Museum and The Condor.

 

When: Tuesdays at 1:00 Cost: $69. Please call to schedule additional time slots
Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs)
Reservations Online: http://exploresanfrancisco.tix.com
More Information: 415.793.1104
E-mail: info@ExploreSanFrancisco.biz 

 

 

We also offer:
North Beach & Chinatown at Night!

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Chinatown and North Beach at Night

NorthBeachDIFFERENT SIDES OF THE STREET, WORLDS APART. NIGHTLY TOURS,YEAR ROUND!
This tour is very social, we have fun and friendships are made. Maybe its because it’s the wine or exotic teas, the good food, the company or the vibrant area, but if you are looking for a relaxed and interesting evening with delicious food, you cannot go wrong with this fun event. The air scented with incense and spice invites us as we begin the evening with gourmet tea in Chinatown. We may sample Dim Sum, or other Cantonese, Sichuanese, Hunanese, but primarily it will be Americanized Hong Kong style cuisine on our leisurely stroll. We’ll see the oldest Chinese temple in America, the oldest Catholic Cathedral on the West Coast, the oldest Chinese bakery in the US, we will see workers make fortune cookies in their factory , delight in the flower stalls, street musicians playing ancient Chinese instruments,  shop the produce vendors, explore an herbalist shop, pass former opium dens, gambling halls and houses of ill repute. After going through the back alleys of Chinatown, where the local residents lead their daily lives, we cross over into North Beach entering through Kerouac alley, birthplace of the beatniks…

Welcome to San Francisco’s Little Italy, the city’s most charming neighborhood with a checkered past. We’ll see the bar where the beatniks drank and the bookstore where they read their works. Both of these establishments are still going strong! You’ll see Columbus Tower: “The Godfather” Building. We’ll cross Broadway,” The Strip Club Strip”, we’ll see the club where Carol Doda danced for decades. Shortly afterwards, the St. Francis of Assisi Church which is a national Roman Catholic shrine and the Fifth Seat of the Pope. We’ll walk along the border of the legenday American Barbary Coast. We’ll work our way up Columbus past bustling sidewalk cafes, where the air smells like freshly baked bread, garlic and espresso. Passing pottery shops, bakeries, trattorias, pizzarias, delicatessens and bars,
we’ll see famed Washingon Square and Sts. Peter and Paul Church( where Joe DiMaggion and
Marylin Monroe were not married) . We’ll eat again and finish the evening with good
conversation, laughter, wine or coffee and smiles all around.

North Beach and Chinatown at Night

North Beach and Chinatown at Night

At the intersection of Broadway, Columbus and Grant Avenues,
Little Italy meets Chinatown. This is a perfect spot in which

to find yourself, especially if you are looking for a me

Bimbos Swank

Bimbos Swank

Broadway Strip Clubs, North Beach
English: North Beach, San Francisco, Californi...
f

 

 

 

North Beach/ Chinatown at night, Broadway strip clubs

Broadway at Night

Chinatown at night

Chinatown at Night

Grant Avenue, Chinatown side, at night

Grant Avenue, Chinatown side, at night

Flatiron Building at Night North Beach

Flatiron Building at Night North Beach

Bimbos 365Bimbos 365

Bimbos, North Beach

This swanky Nightclub from the 1930s still attracts top musical acts from a variety of genres

DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE STREET, WORLDS APART.

NIGHTLY TOURS,YEAR ROUND!

 


streetsvesuvio. ..Vesuvios Beatnik hangout, North Beach

 

 

 

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