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Historic Walks in San Francisco: 18 Trails Through the City's Past 1st US Edition 6th Printing Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1879367036
ISBN-10: 1879367033
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  • Historic Walks in San Francisco: 18 Trails Through the City's Past
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Total price: $49.77
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Like the best of the Baedekers, Historic Walks in San Francisco brings us a new understanding of a fascinating city." -- Dr. Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California

"Like the best of the Baedekers, Historic Walks in San Francisco brings us a new understanding of a fascinating city." --Dr. Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California

About the Author

Rand Richards is a San Francisco-based historian, author, and lecturer. Two of his books are local bestsellers: Historic San Francisco: A Concise History and Guide and Historic Walks in San Francisco: 18 Trails Through the City's Past. He has lectured before many groups, including the California Historical Society, the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, and the San Francisco History Association. The latter organization recently awarded him their Oscar Lewis Award for his contributions to knowledge of San Francisco history.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Great West Books; 1st US Edition 6th Printing edition (October 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1879367033
  • ISBN-13: 978-1879367036
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If Adah Bakalinsky's Stairway Walks in San Francisco (see my review) is like touring the city with your eccentric, but lovable aunt, Rand's book is like a walk with her history professor husband.

Rand's book is very well organized and presented. He provides maps and directions, like Adah, but adds in trip length and degree of difficulty, which are welcome information omitted from Adah's Stairway Walks.

There is little of Adah's whimsy here: it is replaced with exhaustive research on the area for each walk and its architecture. This results in a very different walking experience.

The first major difference is that many of these Historic Walks are on flatter ground, meaning they both cover different ground from Stairway Walks and are more accessible to people who have trouble with all of the climbing inherent in Adah's routes.

The second major difference is that, given his focus on history and architecture, not sweeping views, Rand's walks are not as diminished by bad weather as Adah's are.

The last difference is the sheer amount of history. The walks in this book always take me much longer than I think they will because I spend so much time standing around reading. Sometimes this is good, e.g. the Castro walk's extensive information about how Harvey Milk helped shape the area, but sometimes, like when there is an extensive discussion of old maps and how hard it is to trace exactly when a particular nondescript house was converted from a nondescript barn, you just want him to get on with it.

I like this book as a contrast and follow on to Adah's Stairway Walks book but, unless you are a history buff, I'd do Adah's first.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book provides 18 mapped walks through different neighborhoods in San Francisco, focusing on the history of the city, each walk taking about one to two hours, each one accompanied by detailed stories keyed to specific buildings or sites. For instance, the walk through Chinatown takes you to some of the tiny alleyways that used to be entrances to the innumerable bordellos in the region before the 1906 earthquake, along with the still functioning "Tin How" temple up three flights of stairs. This book is not to be confused with a guide to places to eat and so on. Obviously it's only going to be useful to those who are willing and able to spend many hours discovering the city. But if you're interested in seeing and learning about the historical background to this great city, it's hard to imagine how this book could be beat.
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Format: Paperback
Rand Richards' Historic Walks In San Francisco provides 18 self-guided walks and requires only access to San Francisco streets in order to prove inviting. Pair stories about the suites and buildings and the colorful characters which surround them with anecdotes of San Francisco history and you have a superb travel book which does double duty as both a destination guide and as an excellent San Francisco survey.
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Format: Paperback
Very well put together book. Each of the 18 walks gives you an overview section of:

- Length of walk in miles
- Duration in minutes
- Walk rating (easy to hard)
- Hills
- Public transit options to and from start/end points
- Parking
- Restrooms

I really enjoyed the book's focus on architecture and history. I'm not much for the usual history stuff, but he paints a vivid picture, esp. when the topics turn to the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. He takes pains to point out interesting items ("notice the top story on that building. It looks out of place and it should; it was added 50 years later"). The directions are clearly labeled with just enough info at each point (1-2 ppg, often more for major buildings).

Some highlights:

For the engineering-minded the cable car barn is a must see (Nob Hill walk)

During the North Beach walk you'll see famed Beat generation hangout Cafe Trieste. This is also where Francis Ford Copolla spend his days writing the screenplay of The Godfather. You see first-hand The Condor: America's first topless joint, which is now a friendly sports bar. Also of note: Vesuvio, Jack Kerouac's beatnik spot. You'll also see where Lenny Bruce got his start (as well as he allegedly fell to his death). This is the stuff of legends.
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Format: Paperback
I guide walking tours through the city and do my research meticulously, looking up each block and each address on any chosen route. Most books like this that I have found are interesting but lacking in historical facts. This book is amazing, this author knows his San Francisco history and on some routes, lists the the history of every building along the way and quite often details the history of all the buildings that were there before the current structure. If you are looking for a guide book rich in history and want something more than how the author might feel about a particular walk get this book now.
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