Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas

Rebecca Solnit, Berkeley, Univ. of Calif. Press, 2010, 144 pp. ISBN 978-0-520-26250-8, heavy weight paperback, $24.95 list, Amazon $16.47, also available in hardcover

“Every place deserves an atlas,” proclaims author and compiler Rebecca Solnit. San Francisco is the canvas for (22) artistically drawn thematic maps, many of which could only be drawn for this unique city. One must enter with an open mind, maps of “Monarchs and Queens” where butterflies and gay bars might jar some senses. “Poison/Palate,” a map of gourmet treats and arms manufacturers juxtaposed might seem inappropriate.The “Third Street Phantom Coast” with its surviving historical remnants is great fun. Each map is accompanied by text explaining its significance, written by Solnit or a collaborator. The maps are in striking color and designed to draw your mind into the ideas expressed. Some you may find a little quirky but the book is beautifully done, and a tribute to a complex city which some of us love to live in and everyone loves to visit. This guidebook will open your eyes to some new and different places to visit. Interestingly, not printed in China like many current books, but very handsomely printed in Canada.

Review by Bill Warren
From the Society’s December 2011 Newsletter