Hidden San Francisco | Mechanics' Institute

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Hidden San Francisco
with historian Chris Carlsson

This is event is produced in partnership with the San Francisco Department of Memory, producer of San Francisco History Days and Shaping San Francisco.

This event will be conducted via Zoom. Please register here.

This program will be recorded for future viewing.  By registering for and attending this program, you acknowledge that your name and image may be included in the recording. If you have any questions please email Taryn Edwards, [email protected]

San Francisco is an iconic and symbolic city. But only when you look beyond the picture-postcards of the Golden Gate Bridge and the quaint cable cars do you realize that the city’s most interesting stories are not the Summer of Love, the Beats, or even the latest Gold Rush in Silicon Valley. Join us as writer, historian, "professor," bicyclist, tour guide, blogger, photographer, book and magazine designer Chris Carlsson presents his new book, Hidden San Francisco.

Hidden San Francisco is a guidebook like no other. Structured around the four major themes of ecology, labor, transit and dissent, Chris Carlsson peels back the layers of San Francisco’s history to reveal a storied past: behind old walls and gleaming glass facades lurk former industries, secret music and poetry venues, forgotten terrorist bombings, and much more. Carlsson delves into the Bay Area’s long prehistory as well, examining the region’s geography and the lives of its inhabitants before the 1849 Gold Rush changed everything, setting in motion the clash between capital and labor that shaped the modern city.

The definitive ‘history from below,’ Hidden San Francisco highlights moments of historic contestation when paths forked and choices fought over by the city’s prior inhabitants opened some doors and closed others. From the perspective of the students and secretaries, longshoremen and waitresses, Hidden San Francisco uncovers dozens of overlooked, forgotten, and flushed histories that pulse through the streets and hills even today, inviting the reader to see themselves in the middle of the ongoing, everyday process of making history . . . together.

Chris Carlsson has lived in San Francisco since 1978 and has been self-employed in various capacities since the early 1980s. He has written three books (Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes, and Radical Histories; After the Deluge; Nowtopia) edited six books, (Reclaiming San Francisco, The Political Edge, Bad Attitude, Critical Mass: Bicycling’s Defiant Celebration, Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco, 1968-78 and Shift Happens! Critical Mass at 20), and co-authored the expanded second edition of Vanished Waters: The History of San Francisco’s Mission Bay. He helped co-found Critical Mass in September, 1992, and has ridden with Critical Mass rides in a dozen cities on three continents since then. His book Nowtopia, along with his role in Critical Mass, has propelled him into extended world travels since 2002, and he has had three of his books translated and published in Italy and one in Brazil. His frequent public appearances are well-represented online at Youtube and in various radio and audio archives. He has directed Shaping San Francisco since its inception in the mid-1990s, and continues to be co-director of the archive of San Francisco history at FoundSF.org. He also conducts award-winning bicycle history tours and walking tours a dozen times a year, and hosts an ongoing Public Talks series in San Francisco. Beginning just before the Coronavirus pandemic, he began hosting Bay Cruises, and hopes they will resume later in 2020. Since 2011 he has been an intermittent “road scholar” in his capacity as an adjunct professor at the San Francisco Art Institute, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and most recently, the University of San Francisco.

Books available through Alexander Book Company or directly from Shaping San Francisco.

(photo credit Todd Sanchioni)





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