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Cityscapes: San Francisco and its Buildings Paperback – May 1, 2011


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Cityscapes: San Francisco and its Buildings + Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area + National Trust Guide/San Francisco: America's Guide for Architecture and History Travelers
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Editorial Reviews

Review

''More of a pocketbook than a primer, Cityscapes is a jaunty romp through a few of the icons of San Francisco architecture and a number of the idiosyncratic structures that dot the City by the Bay. King makes it a comfortable trip with brief commentary on each building; it's like he's walking alongside and just chatting about what strikes him. And, there's not a single bit of jargon, no technical terms, nary a wisp of archi-babble.''--San Francisco Examiner

''Cityscapes takes in the great breadth of San Francisco's built landscape and in it finds joy, beauty, and the great dynamic thrum that marks one of the world's most vital cities.''--Dwell

''John King is making it possible for even strangers, let alone residents, to experience San Francisco like never before. Just the visuals are enough to satisfy your appetite but to then read the description makes you know that you've got to go pay a visit. A must book for everybody.'' --Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco

'Cityscapes takes in the great breadth of San Francisco's built landscape and in it finds joy, beauty, and the great dynamic thrum that marks one of the world's most vital cities.' --Dwell

'John King is making it possible for even strangers, let alone residents, to experience San Francisco like never before. Just the visuals are enough to satisfy your appetite but to then read the description makes you know that you've got to go pay a visit. A must book for everybody.' --Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco

About the Author

John King is the San Francisco Chronicle's urban design critic. He joined the paper in 1992 and has been in his current post since 2001. His writing on architecture and urban design has been honored by groups including the California Preservation Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the California chapters of the American Institute of Architects and the American Planning Association. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2002 and 2003.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Heyday (May 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597141542
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597141543
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John King does not have an architecture degree; his interest in cities and buildings was sparked by high school forays into San Francisco and fanned by seven years in Boston. Now he's the urban design critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.

"Cityscapes" is his first book, but King has also written for Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Planning and The American Scholar. As for the photographs in "Cityscape," he took them - a gig he never expected.

His criticism also has brought awards from the California chapters of the American Institute of Architects, the American Planning Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Last but not least, King was recipient of the first Gene Burd Urban Journalism Award from the Urban Communication Foundation, an award that since has been won by Paul Goldberger, Inga Saffron and Stewart Brand. Good company!

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Lynne E. TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
John King is the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE's architecture critic, and I'm a regular reader of his intelligent, insightful columns about The City's successful and not-so-successful buildings. However, this book was a great disappointment to me.

1. It's small: just a little 5" x 7" handbook that can be tucked into a purse, a pocket, a Christmas stocking, or a tourist's bag.

2. It's a spotty collection of mini-photo-essays of only 50 notable San Francisco structures--some obscure, some very famous. There are two pages (two photos and one text paragraph) devoted to each structure.

3. The book fails as a tourist's guide. Although street addresses are given for each structure, there are no maps to show where the buildings are located within The City or relative to each other.

4. The handbook-size format means that the photos are too small to be enjoyed as portraits of beautiful or intriguing buildings.

In sum, this is nothing more than a by-producted collection of King's previously published newspaper feature columns, with full-color rather than black-and-white photos. In my opinion, it is a "non-book", and valuable primarily as a travel souvenir.

I would not have purchased this book, if I'd had a chance to see it first.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Elmer on April 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Even if you know San Francisco, you'll inevitably discover something new in this fabulous little book. And even if you've never lived in the City, you'll enjoy the read--King's love for this place and its eclectic architecture shows through on every page in the unique, unmatched style that makes him a favorite SF Chronicle columnist. This guy can write. Oh, and the photos are great, as well. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lori Reeser on January 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a small, easily held book for browsing, reflecting and maybe even walking around SF with. It should not be your only work on SF architecture or city planning, but it makes an excellent side piece. The various places are grouped into 4 chapters - icons, styles and masters, landscape, and change. John King believes that a city can have many disparate elements and still work as a coherent whole, and that new architecture is not always bad. Both of these views are strongly contested in SF.

It was generated from John King's (ongoing) weekly mini-column in the SF Chronicle. ([...]) The comments have been fleshed out a bit. There are fifty places, each with 2 pages, which includes text and 2 photos. Even though I had read almost all these columns originally it's nice to have them in one place. For one thing he groups the various places chosen into 4 chapters - icons, styles and masters, landscape, and change. Of necessity, the book is not comprehensive, but it does not pretend to be.

Check out his weekly bits, and if you like it buy the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence Kasparowitz on May 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Give this book away!...it was not written for architects (although I love it). I have taken to giving it away to friends who know my love of cities, buildings and the quirky San Francisco!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DodyMary on October 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding book about the interesting buildings in San Francisco. A fun and enjoyable read, you will not be disappointed!
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