9th Ave: John King with Woody LaBounty

Wednesday, June 5, 2024 - 7:00pm

This event will be held at our 1231 9th Ave location in the Inner Sunset. 

Cover of Portal by John King. The cover is a bold color illustration of San Francisco's Ferry Building, with the title of the book projected out like a beam from the building's clock tower.
Join us on Wednesday, June 5 at 7pm PT when we welcome John King to discuss his book Portal: San Francisco's Ferry Building and the Reinvention of American Cities with Woody LaBounty at 9th Ave!

Masks Encouraged for In-Person Attendance
Or watch online at the link below

Praise for Portal
"John King has produced a tour de force of architectural and social commentary, grounded in the rise and indomitable relevance of San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building. From 1898 to 2023, an incredible story unfolds here of earthquakes, recessions, disasters, and relentless conflict. Through each crisis, the Ferry Building finds a way to adapt and prosper. In masterful prose, King ties the building’s saga to the larger story of San Francisco and even Boston and New York and other waterfront cities as they go through dramatic cycles of decay and rebirth. And in so doing, provides us with an overdue and bracing dose of optimism." - Jerry Brown, former governor of California and mayor of Oakland

"Portal has the good fortune of having been written by a dedicated architecture critic. . . . Serious and rigorous, the book furnishes a gimlet-eyed glimpse of San Francisco’s continuing struggles — and what lies beneath them." - Ian Volner, New York Times Book Review

"This book is much more than a history of San Francisco’s ferry terminal; it’s a window to the soul of a great city. John King gives us a lively and revealing account of a remarkable building that has endured against all odds and assumed new meaning. There are lessons here for every city." - Inga Saffron, Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic

About Portal
New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

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 in Portal, the rise of the automobile and double-deck freeways severed the city from its beloved structure and its waterfront—a connection that required generations to restore.

King’s narrative spans the rise and fall and rebirth of the Ferry Building. Rich with feats of engineering and civic imagination, his story introduces colorful figures who fought to preserve the Ferry Building’s character (and the city’s soul)—from architect Arthur Page Brown and legendary columnist Herb Caen to poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Senator Dianne Feinstein.

In King’s hands, the saga of the Ferry Building is a microcosm of a larger evolution along the waterfronts of cities everywhere. Portal traces the damage inflicted on historic neighborhoods and working dockyards by cars, highways, and top-down planning and “urban renewal.” But when an earthquake destroyed the Embarcadero Freeway, city residents seized the chance to reclaim their connection to the bay. Transporting readers across 125 years of history, this tour de force explores the tensions impacting urban infrastructure and public spaces, among them tourism, deindustrialization, development, and globalization. Portal culminates with a rich portrait of San Francisco’s vibrant esplanade today, visited by millions, even as sea level rise and earthquakes threaten a landmark that remains as vital as ever.

A book for city lovers and visitors, architecture fans and pedestrians, Portal is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of San Francisco and the future of American cities.

About John King
John King
is the Urban Design Critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, a post he created in 2001. The author of three books on San Francisco--Cityscapes: San Francisco and Its Buildings and Cityscapes 2: Reading the Architecture of San Francisco--he also an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.

About Woody LaBounty
Woody LaBounty
leads nonprofit initiatives in San Francisco and is a researcher, writer, and speaker on the city's history. He serves as President and CEO of San Francisco Heritage, a 50-year-old nonprofit with a mission to protect and enhance San Francisco's unique architectural and cultural identity. Before joining Heritage, Woody was the longtime executive director of the local history organization, Western Neighborhoods Project. There he led efforts to save relief cottages from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, bring more than 50,000 historical images online, and use arts and history to equitably enrich neighborhoods.

Portal: San Francisco's Ferry Building and the Reinvention of American Cities By John King Cover Image
ISBN: 9781324020325
Availability: Click the TITLE to view store availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 7th, 2023

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

A two-time Pulitzer finalist explores the story of American urban design through San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building.

Cityscapes 2: Reading the Architecture of San Francisco By John King Cover Image
ISBN: 9781597143141
Availability: Click the TITLE to view store availability
Published: Heyday Books - September 1st, 2015

Part pocket guide, part history, and part architectural primer, the companion piece to urban design critic John King's Cityscapes: San Francisco and Its Buildings contains all of the wit and wonder of the first installment. In epigrammatic prose and with detailed full-color photographs, King highlights fifty structures that tell the story of San Francisco through architecture.

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