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Historic Walks in San Francisco: 18 Trails Through the City's Past [Paperback]

Rand Richards
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 2001 1879367033 978-1879367036 1st US Edition 6th Printing
Historic Walks in San Francisco will take you back in time as you follow 18 self-guided walks down city streets. Besides vivid stories about the sites and buildings along the way and anecdotes about the colorful characters associated with them, you will read tales about such well-known figures as Jack London, Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant, the Emperor Norton, Lenny Bruce, and Janis Joplin, all of whom plated roles in San Francisco's vibrant history.
The author also has unearthed such lesser-known gems of the past as:
Television was invented in San Francisco in 1927 by a Mormon farm boy.
Bull-versus-bear fights were held in the Mission District. Cartoonist Rube Goldberg owned a brothel in Chinatown.
A peculiar artifact was found in an 1879 time capsule and what is in the time capsule that will be opened in 2079.
Illustrated with easy-to-follow maps and dozens of historic photographs, many of them rarely seen, the book covers more than 400 locations in its 18 walks, each lasting two hours or less.
Brimming with insight and the odd fact, laced with humor and drama, Historic Walks in San Francisco sheds new light on the history of one of America's most renowned cities.

Frequently Bought Together

Historic Walks in San Francisco: 18 Trails Through the City's Past + Stairway Walks in San Francisco + Walking San Francisco: 33 Savvy Tours Exploring Steep Streets, Grand Hotels, Dive Bars, and Waterfront Parks
Price for all three: $43.79

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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.

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: 0.9 x 5.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rand Richards is an award-winning historian. The San Francisco-based author's first two 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." His new book "Mud, Blood, and Gold: San Francisco in 1849," originally released in hardcover, has just come out in paperback.

Rand has lectured before many groups, including the California Historical Society, the San Francisco History Association, and the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. In November 2010 the latter organization gave him their Award of Merit at a gala $150 a plate luncheon at the Palace Hotel for his "distinguished contributions to the collection, preservation and interpretation of San Francisco history."

In 1995 Rand had the honor of being invited by Mikhail Gorbachev to the first State of the World Forum at the Fairmont Hotel. At the five-day conference for world leaders he gave a lecture on San Francisco history and led tours of some of the City's historic sites.

You can find out more about Rand and his books at his website at www.heritagehousesf.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Stories and Neat Walks August 22, 2006
By Wizkid
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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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provides 18 self-guided walks January 7, 2002
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See what you normally dismiss. March 7, 2010
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.

The Haight walk sends you strolling past the former homes of
... Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide June 23, 2012
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for architecture and understanding what important buildings...
I've native San Franciscans stop me on the street and ask me where I got it. Loved the Market Street walk. A little imagination and you're in the late 1800s.
Published 4 months ago by Silicon Valley Gal
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended
I spent the summer in San Francisco and did the first five walks in this book with a friend. We loved it! We loved the book. Read more
Published 9 months ago by D. J. Frank
5.0 out of 5 stars Good guide book
I like that it gives the history of places I'm walking to. I might not take all the walks but I can find about the history.
Published 17 months ago by R. A. Battaglia
5.0 out of 5 stars Love using this book to explore SF
I recently moved to SF, and this book has become my handy guide, helping me explore different areas of the city that not even a lo of locals are aware of. Read more
Published 17 months ago by I'm Just a Girl...
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
really well written, amazing details about the city that are put together in an interesting and accessible way, would recommend it
Published 17 months ago by spellbinder
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I purchased this book after moving to San Francisco years ago so I could learn more about my new town. 5 years later I still haven't finished every walk. There are quite a few! Read more
Published on July 8, 2010 by shel4637
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes the walks enjoyable!
I received this book from my brother as a gift for he knows I enjoy historic landmarks. I found this book a great read without even being present in San Francisco. Read more
Published on May 8, 2010 by Uncle Rico
4.0 out of 5 stars 18 Historic Walks in San Francisco
I got this book a while back and I'm still reading it ! Good points: It creates a really good insight into the history of the place, the way the streets were created by the... Read more
Published on August 6, 2008 by Mike L'Alouette
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing gaps
while completed in a methodical way, this book on San Francisco slights North Beach. does not mention coit tower, the many italian restaurants and coffee houses of the quarter. Read more
Published on June 25, 2008 by Francine Brevetti
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