San Francisco Past and Present | Mechanics' Institute

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San Francisco Past and Present
with authors Alec Scott and Jill K. Robinson

Wednesday, October 18, 2023 - 6:00pm

Join Alec Scott, author of Oldest San Francisco, and Jill K. Robinson, author of San Francisco Scavenger, for an evening focused on this city’s past and present. The event will include a San Francisco history quiz as well as a Q&A and book signing.


Oldest San Francisco focuses on the institutions that have helped make San Francisco San Francisco, featuring brief histories of its oldest restaurant (Tadich), oldest bakery (Boudin), oldest scientific institution (the Cal Academy). It speaks of civic fabrics—the oldest extant blue jeans (held in a vault at Levi’s) and first rainbow flag (exhibited at the GLBT Historical Society museum in the Castro). In addition to giving its version of some oft-told tales of this city, it contains some lesser known stories, about the world’s oldest suicide hotline, the city’s oldest auto shop and hatmaker.






San Francisco Scavenger has more than 300 rhyming clues that take you on a scavenger hunt through 19 different neighborhoods across the 49 square miles of the city. Each riddle includes a photo to help you find museums, public artworks, historical sites like the Mechanics’ Institute, bars and restaurants, architectural highlights, and more. Whether you love the thrill of solving a puzzle, have a desire to learn a little history, feel the urge to get out and explore, or even rediscover a city you thought you knew, find the true spirit of San Francisco in the pages of this book.







Author, journalist Alec Scott has contributed to outlets including The Guardian, LA Times, Smithsonian magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, and Sunset. His features have won awards, including a Lowell Thomas Gold in Adventure Travel from the Society of American Travel Writers and three National Magazine Awards in his native Canada. In 2022, he published his first novel, Until It Shimmers — “a potent, vigorous coming-of-age tale,” according to Kirkus Reviews. A former lawyer, he has taught writing at Stanford. For more on the book, see, for more on Alec,







​Jill K. Robinson writes about travel and adventure for National Geographic, AFAR, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Outside, Sierra, Virtuoso The Magazine, Hemispheres, and more. She has won three Lowell Thomas Awards from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation in the categories of Foreign Travel, Culinary-Related Travel, and Environmental and Sustainable Tourism. Jill’s books include 100 Things to Do in San Francisco Before You Die (2018, Reedy Press), Gordon Ramsay’s Uncharted: A Culinary Adventure with 60 Recipes From Around the Globe (2023, National Geographic Books), Great Outdoors U.S.A.: 1,000 Adventures Across All 50 States (2023, National Geographic Books), and San Francisco Scavenger (2023, Reedy Press). For more on Jill, please visit

Meet the Author(s)

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Non-Members Sliding Scale $5-$10
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4th Floor Meeting Room
Programs & Events - 415-393-0116
Register now by using the form below or calling 415-393-0116.


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