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Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas [Paperback]

Rebecca Solnit
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: £19.95
Price: £13.57 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

26 Nov 2010
What makes a place? "Infinite City", Rebecca Solnit's brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, searches out the answer by examining the many layers of meaning in one place, the San Francisco Bay Area. Aided by artists, writers, cartographers, and twenty-two gorgeous color maps, each of which illuminates the city and its surroundings as experienced by different inhabitants, Solnit takes us on a tour that will forever change the way we think about place. She explores the area thematically - connecting, for example, Eadweard Muybridge's foundation of motion-picture technology with Alfred Hitchcock's filming of "Vertigo". Across an urban grid of just seven by seven miles, she finds seemingly unlimited landmarks and treasures - butterfly habitats, queer sites, murders, World War II shipyards, blues clubs, and Zen Buddhist centers. She roams the political terrain, both progressive and conservative, and details the cultural geographies of the Mission District, the culture wars of the Fillmore, the South of Market world being devoured by redevelopment, and much, much more. Breathtakingly original, this atlas of the imagination invites us to search out the layers of San Francisco that carry meaning for us - or to discover our own infinite city, be it Cleveland, Toulouse, or Shanghai. The contributors include: Cartographers: Ben Pease and Shizue Seigel; Designer: Lia Tjandra Artists: Sandow Birk, Mona Caron, Jaime Cortez, Hugh D'Andrade, Robert Dawson, Paz de la Calzada, Jim Herrington, Ira Nowinski, Alison Pebworth, Michael Rauner, Gent Sturgeon, and, Sunaura Taylor; Writers and researchers: Summer Brenner, Adriana Camarena, Chris Carlsson, Lisa Conrad, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Joshua Jelly-Shapiro, Paul La Farge, Genine Lentine, Stella Lochman, Aaron Shurin, Heather Smith, and Richard Walker; and Additional cartography: Darin Jensen; Robin Grossinger and Ruth Askevold, San Francisco Estuary Institute.

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Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas + A Field Guide To Getting Lost + Wanderlust: A History of Walking
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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1st Edition edition (26 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520262506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520262508
  • Product Dimensions: 30.3 x 18.1 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 404,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"A joyous book." San Francisco Chronicle 20101103 "Inventive and affectionate." -- Lise Funderburg New York Times Book Review 20101205 "This nicely designed book offers a collection of essays and subject specific maps anyone who loves San Francisco will enjoy poring over." -- Bob Walch Bookloons.com 20111018 "Brilliantly disorients our native sense of place." -- Jonathon Keats San Francisco Magazine 20101201 "This is an amazing and thought-provoking book." Geist 20121105 "A richly textured graphic book that no electronic format can master yet, Infinite City features Rebecca Solnit as cultural and historical tour guide through the city she calls home." -- Bridget Kinsella Shelf Awareness 20101018 "A fresh and intriguing spin on mapmaking." -- Elizabeth Ryan Utne 20101101 "A thrilling new book." -- Nicole Gluckstern San Francisco Bay Guardian 20101201 "A gorgeously produced collection of maps and essays." -- Nikil Saval Los Angeles Review Of Books 20110728 "Breathtakingly original." San Francisco Bay Guardian 20101123 "A treasure of intricate, intimate maps." -- Adam Hartzell SF360 20101220

About the Author

Rebecca Solnit is the best-selling author of many books, including River of Shadows, for which she won the National Book Critics Circle Award, A Paradise Built in Hell, Savage Dreams (UC Press), and Storming the Gates of Paradise (UC Press).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a curate's egg... 6 April 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is beautiful. No question about it. The print is a delight and the maps are interesting and informative, as well as being works of art in their own right. What lets the book down is that this has been written by multiple authors with some pretty obvious and extreme biases. Some (the named author in particular) have written interesting, informative articles to go with the map in question. Others have written turgid diatribes that are boring and difficult to read. And one has to say, this entire book has a certain political perspective which might best be described as 'left-wing hippy academic', written by ivory tower students. No problem with that in principle, but it can wear a bit thin after a while. For example, there is lots of bemoaning the loss of manufacturing and blue collar workers and overt statements that modern industry is mostly a waste of time, instead of celebrating the birth and evolution of silicon valley (which is not mentioned once). It should be noted by the way, that whilst focussed on San Francisco, this does extend to the whole of Northern California for some topics. All in all, a bit of a curate's egg: good in parts, not in others. When it is good though, it's really good.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "San Francisco contains many more than eight hundred thousand living maps" 19 Nov 2010
By Michael R. Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The beautiful "Infinite City" belongs on any list of essential San Francisco books. Rebecca Solnit and her collaborators have taken a core sample of the endless layers of San Francisco history and laid it out in twenty-two brilliantly imagined maps and eighteen essays exploring the city's history, geography, demography, biology, and myth. "Infinite City" is vast enough to encompass the Coliseum, Coronet and Alexandria theaters; the Pipevine swallowtail, Satyr anglewing, and Orange sulfur butterflies; the Yelamu, Aramai, and Urebure peoples; the "McKittrick Hotel", "Argosy Book Shop", and Ernie's; Josephine McCrackin, Carrie Stevens Walter, and Barbara Eastman; Bechtel, RoboteX, and Jeppesen; Jimbo's Bop City, Ann's 440, and the Six Gallery; Acme Export Packing, the Pacific Far East Line, and Triple A Machine Shop; and the Richmond Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. The book itself is as lovingly designed as anything McSweeney's has published, proof that until we stop needing tactile pleasures, the screen will never replace the page.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful history of SF 30 Dec 2010
By Josh - Published on Amazon.com
Incredible book, an interesting view of San Francisco from a historical and sociological perspective. Please note though that this book is currently being offered by a seller for over $198. This book is being sold at the SFMOMA for $24.95. The seller's mark up is dishonest and offensive.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book "that locates what was never lost" 8 Mar 2011
By m - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's like reader-Mapquesting your way through San Francisco while leafing through the pages of "Infinite City." Rebecca Solnit has cleverly divided The City into wonderful stories based on people, events and history which happened in each of the many and varied districts. Whether you're an armchair traveler or lucky enough to actually be in San Francisco traipsing about you will thoroughly enjoy all the wonderfully detailed maps as well as eloquently written words which entice the reader to keep moving on to the next page and district. Hard to believe it's possible because San Francisco is so well documented but this book adds many new facts and bits of
interest guaranteed to hold your attention. It's an entertaining, delightful and informative read as well as terrific reference. "Infinite City" is a new gem on my bookshelf which is located 750 miles from San Francisco. Despite the distance, as Solnit wrote, "More than anything, this is a map home."
26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed 30 July 2011
By Robert T. Lewis - Published on Amazon.com
This atlas by Rebecca Solnit is an interesting attempt to describe some of the diversity and contrasts in the San Francisco Bay Area. However it is seriously flawed in its execution. There are several double page maps, but they go right into the binding so the center of the map can not be seen! This is exacerbated by the the shape of tall and narrow so that the binding is extra long. There are many double pages of text in small type referring to the the maps on other pages. It would have been much better if the maps and corresponding text were integrated on the same or opposite page so they could be viewed together. So, while the book is interesting, its usefulness is limited and difficult to use as a guide.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-needed kick in the pants for the field of cartography/GIS 23 Aug 2011
By David Perlmutter - Published on Amazon.com
Infinite City is the only book I've ever read that truly achieves what a map should as an art form. As a student of geography and GIS, I wish I had been more educated on some of her methods and encouraged to try more or Solnit's wildly imaginative interpretations. Few things are as hard to map as history and culture, for these are nonlinear and fluid concepts. As the author states, any interpretation of our sense of place is situated by our individual experience; there are therefore an "infinite" number of maps that each of us could make of the city, and each would be artistically relevant. Infinite City does a great job of highlighting both the more popular stories/folklore of San Francisco through her maps, as well as those most of us are not brilliant enough to imagine. Solnit has a keen sense of duality and contradiction, which shows in her cartography. "Poison and palate", the interplay between toxic waste generators and gourmet food destinations and how the two are not at all unrelated. "Phrenology" of the city was another of my favorites. As I finished Infinite City, I was left scratching my head wondering 1) why geography students aren't educated to value maps in the artistic sense; and 2) why aren't there more books like Infinite City for the other great cities of the world! A fantastic read, highly recommended.
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