Reclaiming San Francisco is an anthology of fresh appraisals of the contrarian spirit of the city – a spirit “resistant to authority or control.” The official story of San Francisco is one of progress, development, and growth. But there are other, unofficial, San Francisco stories, often shrouded in myth and in danger of being forgotten, and they are told here: stories of immigrants and minorities, sailors and waterfront workers, and poets, artists, and neighborhood activists – along with the stories of speculators, land-grabbers, and the land itself that need to be told differently.
Contributors include historians, geographers, poets, novelists, artists, art historians, photographers, journalists, citizen activists, an architect, and an anthropologist. Passionate about the city, they want San Francisco to be more itself and less like the city of office towers, chain stores, theme parks, and privatized public services and property that appears to be its immediate fate.
San Francisco is not alone in being transformed according to the dictates of the global economy. But San Franciscans are unusual in their readiness to confront the corporate agenda for their city.
"Having read this kaleidoscopic investigation of the great Pacific metropolis, I stand in awe at San Francisco's raw energy but fear, simultaneously, its dispersion into affluence and make-believe. The radical energy that animated San Francisco is pulsing in these pages, as does dismay at its murder by greed and promotion." —Andrei Codrescu, poet and National Public Radio commentator
"A wonderful tour through the City's history and cultural life." —Chester Hartman, author of The Transformation of San Francisco
"This book celebrates the fact that we live in the most glorious of human creations, a city, with living streets, more like ancient Athens or Samarkhand or Calcutta than like the aggregate office block/parking lot/shopping malls that once were modern American cities and still bear their names. Read it to understand why San Francisco is still alive – and how we have to defend it." —Joan Holden, San Francisco Mime Troupe
James Brook is a poet and the principal editor of Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and Politics of Information (City Lights) and the translator of many works, including My Tired Father by Gellu Naum and Panegyric by Guy Debord.
Chris Carlsson, executive director of the multimedia history project "Shaping San Francisco", is a writer, publisher, editor and community organizer. He was a founder of the ground-breaking magazine Processed World, and helped launch the monthly bike-ins known as "Critical Mass" that have spread to five continents and over 300 cities.
Nancy J. Peters is a former publisher at City Lights Books, co-author of Literary San Francisco and translator of Dreams of Dreams by Antonio Tabucchi.