Image - speaker photos, book covers, VW van
Image - speaker photos, book covers, VW van

Oldest San Francisco/Secret California

Think you know San Francisco and the rest of California? Think again. Two new books, Oldest San Francisco, and Secret California: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure, will inspire you to seek out spots even locals will be surprised to learn about and inspired to visit.

Oldest San Francisco, by Alec Scott, draws a picture of the sudden city that exploded in the Gold Rush. It tells the stories of the longtime institutions that have made the City by the Bay distinctive, visiting the oldest: bakery (Boudin), bike shop (American Cyclery). and brewery (Anchor, whose struggle to survive will be discussed). Scott speaks of civic fabrics―the oldest blue jeans and first rainbow flag―and even the oldest public affairs forum in the country (yes, The Commonwealth Club). Together the stories distill the ebullient, entrepreneurial spirit of San Francisco.

Secret California: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure, by Ruth Carlson, invites you to enter a live fairytale with aerial dancers, opera singers and a huge rabbit, to visit The Institute of Abnormal Arts―if you dare―and to watch silent movies in the East Bay theater where Charlie Chaplin premiered The Tramp. She sniffed out the country's only perfume museum, discovered an ancient society's crypt, and visited a second city underneath the state's capital.

Don't miss this enjoyable evening, which will include a trivia contest, selected readings from the authors’ books, and an audience Q&A. Everyone will leave with a deeper appreciation of what makes San Francisco San Francisco.


George Hammond

Image - Ruth Carlson

Ruth Carlson

Travel Writer; Author, Secret California: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure

Image - Alec Scott

Alec Scott

Journalist; Writing Instructor, Stanford University; Author, Oldest San Francisco

Image - George Hammond

In Conversation with George Hammond

Author, Conversations With Socrates