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This is San Francisco: 10/20/16

This is San Francisco by Miroslav Sasek

This is San Francisco by Miroslav Sasek is the 4th book in the "This is" series published from 1959 - 1970. In 1962 when it was a new book my mother and her parents were living in the heart of the modern day Silicon Valley. But it was 8 years away from PARC and the earliest days of the silicon computer chip.

In the 1960s my grandfather would get a ride to the train station, what nowadays is CalTrain but was a different company then, and would commute into the Financial District of San Francisco. The modern day interstates were being built but the two big ones into the city were HWY 1 and HWY 101. Most of HWY 1 was widened and later renamed I280. Driving into the City though wasn't a good idea then and still isn't. Just like now, if you don't want to spent a small fortune on parking fees and most of your day in traffic, you take the train.

Sasek's book is a folio sized tour of the most notable parts of San Francisco. These are the places you go as a tourist. These are the places you navigate by as landmarks if you're on foot. The most notable change isn't in the missing landmarks (most of them are still there) but in the changing cars (no more fins) and the changing fashions (the lingering influence on the hippy culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s).

The series was reissued in the early 2000s by Universe with annotations on what has changed. For This is San Francisco there are three, yes only three, annotations. That's how little San Francisco, at least its most notable features, have changed. The two biggest changes are the removal of the I480 and the redesign of the Bay Bridge, both because of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Five stars

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