Found this old footage of San Francisco on the Atlantic. Apparently, the back story is that:
Jeff Altman, a professional film colorist in Chicago, restored the film, which was shot by his grandfather. He was a police officer in Chicago and a 16mm film enthusiast, shooting rolls of perfectly exposed film on trips around the U.S.
It's very, very cool to see the city I live in 60 years ago. Strangely, much of the city feels the same. The cable cars are still here (including the turnaround on Powell) and the skyline has the same aesthetic with landmarks like Alcatraz and Coit Tower piercing the skyline, despite some other notable absences. I also love seeing the charming fashion of the time.
I can really geek out on this urban history stuff. I was pretty obsessed with it when I lived in Chicago and London. I read tons of books, took classes, and went on all sorts of tours. I think part of it is that understanding the histories of the cities in which I live makes me feel a part of something bigger. I understand where we came from and where we're going.
When I first got to San Francisco, I went in search of urban history books about the City. Interestingly, I didn't turn up too many—at least not as many as I could find about New York, London, and Chicago. Does anyone know why?
I have a couple of crazy theories on it:
1. San Francisco is a young city in comparison to its other American metropolis peers. San Francisco was first settled in 1776, some two centries after New York City was first settled by the Dutch. London, of course, way preceded both cities, since the British capitol was one of the first modern cities ever created. But the city of San Francisco is in many ways still younger. I think the earthquake and fire of 1906 must have wiped out much of the old archtecture. Which is why there may not be as much of a historical connection to the days of old.
2. Maybe the most vibrant historical era is in the counter-culturalism of the 50s and 60s—and could that distill less reverance for history? There's a lot about San Francisco that has pushed the status quo. The Beat Generation, the Hippie Counterculture, Berkeley in general, and Harvey Milk. Ironically, maybe this city has had a historical disregard for the past.
Anyone else have ideas about why there many not be as much depth of urban history here? Or any book recommendations?