San Francisco is perhaps the most exhilarating of all American cities--its beauty, cultural and political avant-gardism, and history are legendary, while its idiosyncrasies make front-page news. In this revised edition of his highly regarded study of San Francisco's economic and political development since the mid-1950s, Chester Hartman gives a detailed account of how the city has been transformed by the expansion--outward and upward--of its downtown. His story is fueled by a wide range of players and an astonishing array of events, from police storming the International Hotel to citizens forcing the midair termination of a freeway. Throughout, Hartman raises a troubling question: can San Francisco's unique qualities survive the changes that have altered the city's skyline, neighborhoods, and economy?
Hartman was directly involved in many of the events he chronicles and thus had access to sources that might otherwise have been unavailable. A former activist with the National Housing Law Project, San Franciscans for Affordable Housing, and other neighborhood organizations, he explains how corporate San Francisco obtained the necessary cooperation of city and federal governments in undertaking massive redevelopment. He illustrates the rationale that produced BART, a subway system that serves upper-income suburbs but few of the city's poor neighborhoods, and cites the environmental effects of unrestrained highrise development, such as powerful wind tunnels and lack of sunshine. In describing the struggle to keep housing affordable in San Francisco and the seemingly intractable problem of homelessness, Hartman reveals the human face of the city's economic transformation.