Portal: San Francisco's Ferry Building and the Reinvention of American Cities
A two-time Pulitzer finalist explores the story of American urban design through San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building.
Conceived in the Gilded Age, the Ferry Building opened in 1898 as San Francisco’s portal to the world—the terminus of the transcontinental railway and a showcase of civic ambition. In silent films and World’s Fair postcards, nothing said “San Francisco” more than its soaring clocktower. But as acclaimed architectural critic John King recounts, the rise of the automobile and double-deck freeways severed the city from its beloved structure. King’s narrative spans the rise and fall and rebirth of the Ferry Building, introducing colorful figures who fought to preserve its character (and the city’s soul)—from architect Arthur Page Brown and legendary columnist Herb Caen to poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Senator Dianne Feinstein. A microcosm of the changing American waterfront, the saga of the Ferry Building explores the tensions of tourism and development—and the threat that sea level rise poses to a landmark that in the twenty-first century remains as vital as ever. Hardcover, 288 pages.
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