Thursday, January 2, 2014
Solnit's San Francisco
Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, is a beautiful "coffee table" book that represents San Francisco in a variety of unique and compelling ways, and includes beautiful maps of the city. The maps tend to focus on two seemingly dichotomous ideas, such as "death and beauty" which pinpoints the 99 murders in San Francisco in 2008 juxtaposed with the location of the city's cypress trees. Another map, "poison/palate" highlights many of the "foodie" artisan gourmet food locations such as the Straus Family Creamery and the Alemany Farmers Market along with "poison sites" such as the Mount Diablo mercury mine and the Port of Oakland. Overall, this is a refreshing and intriguing representation of San Francisco, and highlights its infinite nature. The best part of book is by far the maps themselves. I didn't get that much from the narratives accompanying the maps (with some notable exceptions, such as the narrative that discusses the effect of the Great Migration on San Francisco) and the photos did nothing for me. Solnit has a new book out called Unfathomable City, her take on New Orleans. Solnit is fascinated by and seems to have a deep understanding of urban landscapes.