Hollow City by Rebecca Solnit
Gentrification and the Eviction of Urban Culture

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Synopsis

California’s Bay Area is home to nearly a third of the venture capital and internet businesses in the United States, generating a boom economy and a massive influx of well-paid workers that has transformed the face of San Francisco. Once the great anomaly among American cities, San Francisco is today only the most dramatically affected among the many urban centers experiencing cultural impoverishment as a result of new forms and distributions of wealth.

A collaboration between writer-hiostorian Rebecca Solnit and photographer Susan Schwartzenberg, Hollow City surveys San Francisco’s transformation—skyrocketing residential and commercial rents that are driving out artists, activists, nonprofit organizations and the poor; the homogenization of the city’s architecture, industries and population; the decay of its public life; and the erasure of its sites of civic memory.

Written as a tour of the city’s distinctive characters and locales, Solnit’s text grounds the current evictions in earlier histories of urban renewal and the economic geography of artists, from Haussmann’s impact on the Paris of Baudelaire, to the relationship between the Beats and San Francisco’s African-American community during ‘negro removal’ of the 1950s. She investigates the ways wealth is now clear-cutting the cultural richness of American urban life, erasing space for idealism, dissent, memory and vulnerable populations.

Schwartzenberg’s photo-essays document the profusion of construction and demolition projects in the city, the imperial spaces of dot-com businesses, the proliferation of retail chains, and the rapid disappearance of areas in which artists can live and create. They feature works by more than a dozen San Francisco artists.
 

About Rebecca Solnit

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Rebecca Solnit is author of, among other books, Wanderlust, A Book of Migrations, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, the NBCC award-winning River of Shadows and A Paradise Built In Hell. A contributing editor to Harper's, she writes regularly for the London Review of Books and the Los Angeles Times. She lives in San Francisco. Urban archaeologist and artist Susan Schwartzenberg is the author of Market Street, a visual study of San Francisco's main artery, as well as photo-essays in several books, including Reclaiming San Francisco.
 
Published January 1, 2001 by Verso. 160 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Charting the history of the vibrant San Francisco arts and activist scenesDfrom the early days of literary bohemia in the 1870s to the 1950s beatniks to the famed political theater of the San Francisco Mime TroupeDSolnit methodically shows how difficult it will be for them to remain viable under ...

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