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Cityscapes: San Francisco and its Buildings
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on April 18, 2013
the book is fine, well written with great photographs. I wish it had covered a few more of San Francisco's hidden architectural treasures.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2012
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2011
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2011
Although this really is a "pocket"(5x7x1/2")book, in which Mr. King finds and describes just 49 buildings in San Francisco and devotes about 100 words and two of his own photographs to each, it's a marvel. His selections are so eclectic, from the famous to the never-heard-of, from downtown towers to neighborhood stores, one feels one has experienced ALL of a city too well known for a few tourist landmarks. His short commentaries (taken from his weekly columns in the SF Chronicle) not only vividly describe his own surprised and surprising responses to the cityscape around us, but also give us a clue as to how we might start looking with wider eyes and minds at the urban world we often uncritically inhabit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2011
This building survey is a mix of iconic landmarks, familiar structures I'd never thought much about, and a few this 40 year resident had never seen before. The brief, insightful text for each building makes this little book much more rewarding that many larger, slick, table-top pubications on the subject. Good for visitors, new comers, and old timers who just want to know more about the architecture of their city.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2011
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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on May 12, 2011
If you're into this kind of thing, as am I, you might be interested in an illuminating KQED Forum interview with the author from May, 2011: ...

I also think that this book would make a wonderful iPad/iPhone app, with geo-location, and perhaps links to shots in a flickr photo pool, and user comments. Very doable.

I love the buildings and landscapes of my fair city, even if I am now a thousand miles away.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
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
on April 4, 2011
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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