Honey’s literary travels by train

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May 1, 2016 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground 

 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

The names of Amtrak’s train cars painted on the sides carry messages of places that have geographic and historic meaning, e.g., “Yolo River,” “Monterey Bay,” “Yosemite River,” “Owens Valley,” “Drakes Bay.” Describing the train routes to and within California compresses the landscape of this state’s literature.

The literary traveler that arrives in California by train may take the Zephyr, which runs daily between Chicago and San Francisco, coursing through the plains of Nebraska to Denver, across the Rockies to Salt Lake City, through Reno and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, through Reno and Sacramento into Emeryville. The California Zephyr connects to San Francisco by Thruway Bus Service at Emeryville. Where the Zephyr’s passage over the Sierras passes through Truckee the train roughly follows one of several routes taken by the emigrants — Americans coming into California – before there were roads.

Amtrak.com

 

In May 1827, forty-two years before the Transcontinental Railway reached California, Jedediah Smith, born in 1799, and his party of 15 other men crossed the Sierra Nevada (west to east). They sheltered in a Mojave village near present-day Needles, California. Two runaway Indians from the Spanish missions guided them into the Mojave Desert along the Mojave Trail, the western portion of the Old Spanish Trail. This trail began as an ancient Native American trail.

In 1841, the Bartleson-Bidwell Party crossed east to west traveling 2,008 miles in five months through the Great Salt Lake Desert in Utah. They abandoned their wagons in the desert. They crossed the Sierra Nevada where the Smith Party had crossed.

On February 20, 1844, “The Pathfinder,” John C. Fremont and his party of explorers crossed the Sierra Nevada south of Lake Tahoe on snowshoes guided by Kit Carson. Fremont’s party was the first Euro-Americans to cross over what is now called the Kit Carson Pass. In 1845, he attempted again to cross, this time in the King’s River region. He was lucky to make it out alive.

From Fremont’s journal, first published in 1845, reprinted in A Treasure of the Sierra Nevada, edited by Robert Leonard Reid (Wilderness Press, Berkeley, 1984):

“With Mr. Preuss, I ascended today the highest peak to the right; from which we had a beautiful view of a mountain lake at our feet, about fifteen miles in length, and so entirely surrounded by mountains that we could not discover an outlet. We had taken with us a glass; but, though we enjoyed an extended view, the valley was half hidden in mist, as when we had seen it before. Snow could be distinguished on the higher parts of the coast mountains; eastward, as far as the eye could extend, it ranged over a terrible mass of broken snowy mountains, fading off blue in the distance. The rock composing the summit consists of a very coarse dark volcanic conglomerate; the lower parts appeared to be of a slate structure. The highest trees were a few scattering cedars and aspens. From the immediate foot of the peak, we were two hours in reaching the summit, and one hour and a quarter in descending. The day had been very bright, still, and clear, and spring seems to be advancing rapidly. While the sun is in the sky, the snow melts rapidly, and gushing springs over the face of the mountain in all the exposed places; but their surface freeze instantly with the disappearance of the sun….” They arrived at Sutter’s Fort with no fatalities. Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park is at 2701 L Street in Sacramento. John Sutter built the fort, originally called New Helvetia in Mexican Alta California as an agricultural and trade colony in 1839. New Helvetia was the first non-indigenous community in the Central Valley. Sutter, a Swiss immigrant, had arrived in the small agricultural town of Yerba Buena (San Francisco) on the Clementine.

Two wagon trains had traveled to California before 1844. Neither had been able to get their wagons into California. In 1844, the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy party crossed Sierra Nevada Pass. Six members of the party walked and rode ahead. One man died in the raging Rubicon River west of Tahoe. After many hardships and dangers, five arrived at Sutter’s Fort. Remaining men pushed the wagons from below, using all their strength and will power, the first to prove that the Truckee Pass could be crossed. Snow continued to fall. On the South Fork of the Yuba River, six wagons had to stop. The remaining 42 members created a survival camp, built a small crude cabin and butchered most of their cattle for food. Seventeen men went on ahead following Bear River and reached Sutter’s Fort. Food ran out at the survival camp. Survivors ate the hides of animals. One member caught and ate coyotes and foxes. The rescue group arrived in February. In 1846, the Donner Party found the pass clogged with new-fallen snow up to six feet deep. Forty-eight of the original eighty-seven members survived to reach California. The Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum is located outside of Truckee.

African American pioneer and mountain man James Beckwourth developed a trail through the Beckwourth Pass into California. On his first trip guiding a wagon train, he helped the family of the poet who would be later called Ina Coolbrith (1841-1928) across the Sierra Nevada. Ina was then eleven years old. She made the journey in 1852.

In 1927, Ina gave a talk at a luncheon in her honor and said:

“Ours was the first of the covered wagon trains to break the trail through Beckwourth Pass into California. We were guided by the famous scout Jim Beckwourth, who was an historical figure, and to my mind, one of the most beautiful creatures that ever lived. He was rather dark and wore his hair in two long braids, twisted with colored cord that gave him a picturesque appearance. He wore a leather coat and moccasins and rode a horse without a saddle.”

The Jim Beckwourth Museum is at 1820 Rocky Point Road, Portola California, north of Truckee.

In 1861, Mark Twain, then known as Samuel Clemons, reached Lake Tahoe and stayed for three years in the region. David C. Antonucci in his Fairest Picture – Mark Twain at Lake Tahoe. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2011) argues that the Tahoe region was a place where Twain found his voice as a writer.

Paramount Pictures’ silent film The Covered Wagon (1923) depicts the hardships encountered by American emigrants on the overland route to Oregon. A long portion of this route is the same as the route to California. The travelers experience desert heat, mountain snow and river crossings – as did the real pioneers to California.

California’s geographic isolation is critical to understanding the experiences reflected in its many peoples’ literature up to 1869, when the First Transcontinental Railroad reached the San Francisco Bay. Stephen Ambrose, in his Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869 (Simon and Schuster 2001) wrote:

“Of all the things done by the first transcontinental railroad, nothing exceeded the cuts in time and costs it made for people traveling across the continent. Before the Mexican War, during the Gold Rush that started in 1848, through the 1850s, and until the Civil War ended in 1865, it took a person months and might cost more than $1,000 to go from New York to San Francisco.”

Veterans of both the Confederate and the Union armies and recent immigrants to the U.S. built most of the track across the Wyoming and Nebraska Territories. Large work gangs of over 2,000 men — made up almost entirely of Mormons – built the track in Utah Territory. Many thousands of emigrant Chinese, referred to as “the Celestials,” built the Central Pacific’s roadbed, bridges and tunnels.

John Ford’s silent film The Iron Horse (1924) presented an idealized version of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, culminating with a scene of driving the golden spike at Promontory Summit in Utah on May 10, 1869. The undervalued Johnny Depp film The Lone Ranger (2013) portrayed a fictional interpretation of the same event.

Americans who went through a southern route encountered the harsh deserts in the Southeast of California, caused by a combination of the cold off shore air current, which limits evaporation, and the rain shadow of the mountains. The Mojave Desert is bounded by the peninsular Tehachapi Mountains on the northwest, together with the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains on the southwest.

Today’s train goes over the pass through Truckee to Sacramento past UC. Davis, crosses the marshy Delta and then the Antioch Bridge, not far from Brentwood.

Antioch is a point on The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. In 1776, the Anza expedition traveled up from Monterey through what the present-day cities of Berkeley, Richmond, San Pablo, Rodeo, Martinez, and Pacheco to Antioch, where they turned south.

Nearby Brentwood is an agricultural community but developers are turning it into suburban developments that look as if people from outer space that had no experience with human beings designed urban sprawl from a manual.

Brentwood is where American California was born.

The Miwok and Volvone people lived in Brentwood for about 7,000 years, up to the mission era, when the Spanish padres forcibly removed them. The Mexican governor of Alta California granted Jose Noriega the Rancho Los Meganos (Really, Medano or sand dune) in 1835 – the area now encompassed by Brentwood, Oakley and Knightsen. Noriega sold the rancho two years later to American-born “Doctor” John Marsh. Marsh wasn’t actually a qualified doctor, but he had attended Harvard. Marsh conducted a letter-writing campaign lauding the California climate, letters that newspapers in the United States published. He invited Americans that got over the Sierra Nevada to stay at his ranch and helped get them passports. He then worked behind the scenes to get the U.S. government to acquire California. Eventually, his workers murdered him because he cheated them out of their wages, and no one thought of him as a nice man, at all, ever, but in 2012, California honored Marsh with the creation of Marsh Creek State Park.

Martinez is a little city sometimes shrouded with the odors of the Shell Martinez Refinery (built in 1915) – depending on the wind’s direction. Martinez may be the birthplace of the Martini, a slurred mispronunciation of Martinez by a drunk Anglo Gold Rush miner. Up Alhambra Street from the train station is the John Muir National Historic Site. Naturalist writer and environmentalist John Muir (1838-1914) lived in the 14- room Italianate house on the site. Muir worked for Dr. John Strenzel managing the orchards on the extensive ranch and married Strenzel’s daughter Louie in 1880.

The oil on canvas mural “The Road to Eldorado,” painted by Maynard Dixon and Edith Hamlin, funded by the New Deal agency Treasury Relief Art Project (“TARP”) in 1939, decorates a wall in the Martinez post office. The painting depicts a collection of figures moving on what may be a sand hill with a tracing of houses behind the hill, a body if water, blue hills or mountains on the far side of the water, and part of a large sphere – perhaps a rising sun or perhaps an illusion. A brown-skinned caballero rides his horse headed towards the right of the painting. Another man leads his horse. A group of three head in the other direction: a Mexican wearing a serape and a stylized sombrero, a sailor, and a gold miner, accompanied by a donkey. Three figures stand on a hill: a Spanish woman wrapped in a rebozo, and a Victorian man and woman.

Dixon studied at the California School of Design on Russian Hill in San Francisco where he became close friends with California Impressionist painter Xavier Martinez and others of the Bohemian Club. Journalists had founded the Bohemian Club in 1872. Artists and musicians were honorary members. Gradually the most powerful and influential men in the United States became the majority members but at the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, the Bohemian Club was still “Bohemian.” Poet George Sterling, Ambrose Bierce, and Jack London were members. Sterling wrote, “I like to think of my Bohemians as young, as radical in their outlook on art and life….” Dixon’s second wife was Dorothea Lange, most well known for her photographs of migrant workers in the Salinas Valley and city breadlines during the Great Depression. Dixon painted a series of canvases depicting the politics of maritime strikes and displaced workers. After their divorce, he married Edith Hamlin, one of the social realist artists the Public Works of Art to paint the murals inside Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. The artists were to varying degrees committed to racial equality and leftist politics.

The United States post office murals created during the Great Depression were intended to depict uplifting subjects people knew and loved, appropriate to the communities where they were located. TARP did not allow its artists to create controversial works. The artists complied: the figures do not include Indians.

The first settled Native American communities in Contra Costa County developed from about ten thousand years ago. Nomadic tribes occupied the areas around Martinez far earlier. Spanish explorers encountered native people about 246 years ago in Contra Costa County, where Martinez is located.

In 1871, Congress ended the American policy of treating Indians as sovereign people, which was recognized in the United States Constitution. Indian schools took children away from their tribes and families. Government policies reduced Indian owned lands from 155 million acres to 48 million acres by 1934. When Franklin Roosevelt became President in 1933, he appointed reformer John Collier as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. In 1934, Collier persuaded Congress to pass the Indian Reform Act, which repealed prohibitions on Native American languages and customs and allowed recognition of tribal constitutions.

Nonetheless, white bias against native people in California continued. School history texts in the 1950s and 1960s dismissively referred to the first people in brief paragraphs as “Diggers,” which inferred California’s first people were lesser than other Indians.

Local California governments in land use decisions — and the state judicial system –discriminated against Indians at least through the 1990s in spite of laws against discrimination. California tribes continue to work towards sovereignty through federal court battles.

For the artists to avoid putting Indians in their painting was either a big oversight by two people committed to social justice, or they felt images of Indians having lived here for thousands of years was going to be controversial.

Nonetheless, Dixon and Hamilton may have meant something larger than a picture of a truncated reality. A dictionary meaning of El Dorado is “a place of fabulous wealth or opportunity.” The mythology of this state began before Europeans arrived, and it endures. El Dorado was a metonym for California itself, beginning with Califia, a mythical island paradise described in Spanish author Montalvo’s romance novel Las Serges de Esplandian in about 1510. In 1533, a Spanish expedition named the tip of Baja California (still part of the country of Mexico) the “island of California.”

According to Hoover, et al, Historic Spots in California (4th edition, 1990 Stanford Press), “The Spanish term El Dorado has the connotation of ‘the gilded man.’… The name arose from legend. Andean Indians, perhaps hoping to persuade their Spanish conquerors to go elsewhere, told of a land ruled by a king. So rich in gold was this land that the king’s body was gilded every morning with a fresh coating of gold dust, which was washed away every night.”

An Amtrak bus leaves from Martinez to Santa Rosa, which is about twelve miles from Jack London State Historic Park in the Valley of the Moon. The remains of his Wolf House still stand in the park. Wolf House burned down before the Londons could move into it from the small cottage where they lived after the 1906 earthquake.

The bus continues up to Ukiah, Willits, Laytonville, Leggett, Scotia, McKinleyville, and ends its journey at Smith River.

The Skunk Train travels between Willits and Ft. Bragg. Jack and Charmian London rode on horseback in 1906 from Willits to Ft. Bragg, stopping at a lumber camp. In 1984, T.C. Boyle published Budding Prospects about the misadventures of fictional Felix Nasmyth, who plans to get rich by growing marijuana.

The Coast Starlight and a bus both head north through the interior. The bus stops at Oroville. The train goes up to Redding and Dunsmuir.

The Capitol Corridor stops in Martinez and goes to Sacramento – where “muckraker” journalist Lincoln Steffens and author Joan Didion grew up about 60 years apart. When Steffens was a little boy, his family lived for a time near the Pony Express Terminal. A later house is now the Governor’s Mansion. Didion wrote about her family’s pioneer history in Sacramento in her 2003 Where I was From. Didion’s first novel, Run River (originally published in 1961), is a portrait of an old Sacramento family of white landowners. The physical description of the main character Lily McClellan is also a physical description of Didion. Stan Yogi edited Highway 99: A Literary Journal Through California’s Great Central Valley (Heyday Books 1999) is a beautiful anthology of the myths, poetry and stories of the state’s largest farmland, once the breadbasket of America. The perspectives are those whose voices have been less heard: Indians, laborers, and farmworkers. Stephen Johnson, Gerald Haslam and Robert Dawson put together a photographic project in The Great Central Valley: California’s Heartland (University of California Press 1993) reveal the region’s rich natural environment and the human landscape. The betrayals and unhappiness of the affluent in Didion’s novel is another side of Central Valley literature. Gerald Haslam and John D. Houston’s The Other California: The Great Central Valley (University of Nevada Press 1993) collects the writing of better known people that grew up in the Valley, including Didion.

Amtrak’s the San Joaquin starts in Emeryville, stops in Martinez and Antioch. The route splits at Stockton, and one train heads north to Sacramento. Approaching Stockton from Antioch, the marshes increase and white egrets rise from the water. The train passes over a bridge after Stockton, passing the homeless encampments along the river – tents, plastic tarps, shopping carts, pitiful belongings scattered. As the train continues southward, it passes smaller homeless encampments.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, makeshift camps called Hooverville set up for the destitute. The camps were named after the then-President of the United States Herbert Hoover. Hoover was in office at the beginning of the Depression.

In John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the fictional Joad family stays at Hooverville, a large, crowded, and dirty camp for families unable to find work. Steinbeck wrote:

“And the dispossessed, the migrants, flowed into California, two hundred and fifty thousand, and three hundred thousand.  Behind them new tractors were going on the land and the tenants were being forced off.  And new waves were on the way, new waves of the dispossessed and the homeless, hardened, intent, and dangerous.

“And while the Californians wanted many things, accumulation, social success, amusement, luxury, and a curious banking security, the new barbarians wanted only two things–land and food; and to them the two were one.  And whereas the wants of the Californians were nebulous and undefined, the wants of the Okies were beside the roads, lying there to be seen and coveted:  the good fields with water to be dug for, the good green fields, earth to crumble experimentally in the hand, grass to smell, oaten stalks to chew until the sharp sweetness was in the throat.  A man might look at a fallow field and know, and see in his mind that his own bending back and his own straining arms would bring the cabbages into the light, and the golden eating corn, the turnips and carrots.

“And a homeless hungry man, driving the roads with his wife beside him and his thin children in the back seat, could look at the fallow fields which might produce food but not profit and that man could know how a fallow field is a sin and the unused land a crime against the thin children.  And such a man drove along the roads and knew temptation at every filed, and knew the lust to take these fields and make them grow strength for his children and a little comfort for his wife.  The temptation was before him always.  The fields goaded him, and the company ditches with good water flowing were a goad to him.

“And in the south he saw the golden oranges hanging on the trees, the little golden oranges on the dark green trees; and guards with shotguns patrolling the lines so a man might not pick an orange for a thin child, oranges to be dumped if the price was low.

“He drove his old car into a town.  He scoured the farms for work.  Where can we sleep the night?

“Well, there’s a Hooverville on the edge of the river.  There’s a whole raft of Okies there.

“He drove his old car to Hooverville.  He never asked again, for there was a Hooverville on the edge of every town.

“The rag town lay close to water; and the houses were tents, and weed-thatched enclosures, paper houses, a great junk pile.  The man drove his family in and became a citizen of Hooverville–always they were called Hooverville.  The man put up his own tent as near to water as he could get; or if he had no tent, he went to the city dump and brought back cartons and built a house of corrugated paper.  And when the rains came the house melted and washed away.  He settled in Hooverville and he scoured the countryside for work, and the little money he had went for gasoline to look for work.  In the evening the men gathered and talked of the land they had seen.”

The San Joaquin continues south through Modesto, Merced, and Madera – the cities Didion called the “M” cities. From Merced, a bus heads to Yosemite Lodge in Western Yosemite Valley. Twenty minutes after the stop at Madera, now a sheltered stop but twenty years ago, the stop was a bench exposed to the fierce sun in summer and the miserable rain in winter.

William Saroyan, California’s greatest writer, our Tolstoy, lived and wrote for much of his life in Fresno, which comes after Madera on the San Joaquin route headed south, and the train passes through desolate areas. The house where he lived the last 17 years of his life is a stucco tract home at 2729 West Griffith Way. It is empty with some windows boarded up. Saroyan’s grave is in the Ararat Cemetery in Fresno.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957):

“…Madera, all the rest. Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries. I stuck my head out the window and took deep breaths of the fragrant air. It was the most beautiful of all moments.

“He drove me into buzzing Fresno and let me off by the south side of town. I went for a quick Coke in a little grocery by the tracks, and here came a melancholy Armenian youth along the red boxcars, and just at that moment a locomotive howled, and I said to myself, Yes, yes Saroyan’s town.”

“We got off the bus at Main Street, which was no different from where you get off a bus in Kansas City or Chicago or Boston — red brick, dirty, characters drifting by, trolleys grating in the hopeless dawn, the whorey smell of a city…. 
 “South Main Street, where Terry and I took strolls with hot dogs, was a fantastic carnival of lights and wildness. Booted cops frisked people on practically every corner. The beatest characters of the country swarmed on the sidewalks — all of it under those soft Southern California stars that are lost in the brown halo of the huge desert encampment LA really is. You could smell tea, weed, I mean marijuana, floating in the air, together with the chili beans and beer. That grand wild sound of bop floated from beer parlors; it mixed medleys with every kind of cowboy and boogie-woogie in the American night. Everybody looked like Hassel. Wild Negroes with bop caps and goatees came laughing by; then long-haired broken down hipsters straight off Route 66 from New York; then old desert rats, carrying packs and heading for a park bench at the Plaza; then Methodist ministers with raveled sleeves, and an occasional Nature Boy saint in beard and sandals. ….”

Traveling from his one visit in his life to Los Angeles, Kerouac’s friend poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti took a Greyhound and passed through Fresno. In his Writing Across The Landscape (Liveright Publishing Company 2015), Ferlinghetti – now 97 years old – wrote about his 1964 journey:

“Coming towards Fresno—hay baled up, Holstein cows, boxcars going by on the rails, a livestock auction….Tulare—yellow school bus, full, trailer park—Moto Rest –Chamber of Commerce—Truck Route (arrow)… Bowling—Doherty’s ‘Since Repeal’ First Assembly of God Welcomes You—Turkey Growers Co-op of Central California –Kingsville – a yard full of used toilets – a field full of used dirty white refrigerators—a field full of rusty farm machinery –a filling station back lot full of yellow trailers—a freight train at least a mile long, Fresno and Sunset by five p.m. & a perfectly round red sun falls into a tree and sets on a last Armenian.”

The train stops from time to time in the Central Valley. Tragically, drivers racing to get across the tracks after the gates come down are sometimes stuck on the tracks. Suicides lie on the tracks. Sometimes, someone walks on the tracks and is struck by the train. In 2015, there were 112 collisions between people and vehicles with the train at railroad crossings. Passengers feel the train slowing too rapidly. Pieces of automobile fly in the air like broken black birds outside the windows. The train waits for the local coroner and for an inspector to come down from Oakland to walk the tracks. The passengers somberly wait for them.

Starting back at Martinez and leaving by train and headed west and then south, passengers wait at the station for a bus that will take them to San Francisco.

The Amtrak bus trip from Emeryville across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is especially beautiful at night. The Bay Lights is a light sculpture, and it shines from dusk until dawn. San Francisco’s monumental buildings are lit at night and — behind them — lights illuminate Coit Tower, which stands on Telegraph Hill. The Spanish called that hill “High Hill,” and the first Americans to live there called it “Goat Hill.” In 1849, the Americans built a semaphore on top of the hill to signal the people below it the kind of ships entering the Golden Gate. Nearby tall buildings dwarf the Ferry Building, built to replace the old ferry terminal in 1898.

A pueblo rose between the Presidio founded by the Spanish and the Mission Dolores on the sandy hills partly covered by the minty herb called Yerba Buena after 1835, when Englishman William Richardson put up a canvas tent near the boat anchorage that is today Portsmouth Square. Richardson named the new settlement Yerba Buena. San Francisco’s Chinatown stands on the site of old Yerba Buena. This was the original downtown of San Francisco, near Yerba Buena Cove. The ships that arrived carrying passengers headed for the Sierras to mine gold anchored in Yerba Buena Cove.

Yerba Buena Cove lay between Clarks Point to the north (southeast of Telegraph Hill, bear the corner of modern Broadway and Battery Streets) and Rincon Point to the south (near the corner of modern Harrison and Spear Streets). The beach of the cove was set back as far as what is now Montgomery Street between Clay and Washington Streets. Between the beginning of the Gold Rush and 1860 the cove was filled in, and the downtown of the city of San Francisco built over it. The wharfs – Law’s, Buckelew’s, Cunningham, Broadway, Pacific Street, Clay Street, Long or Central Wharf, California Street Wharf and Harrison’s Pier — once extended into Yerba Buena Cove. The tall ship masts may be seen in early photographs and drawings, and now skyscrapers stand there.

Washington Street and Clay Street are the north and south streets enclosing Portsmouth Square. Those streets extended into Yerba Buena Cove. “Little Chile” was north of Portsmouth Square. This area was called “the Barbary Coast.”

The thousands of mostly men that arrived for the Gold Rush wanted to books and newspapers to read. In 1848, journalist Edwin Bryant arrived to write about California and made money selling the newspapers he had crumpled and stuffed into his trunk when he packed. The California Star – published by Mormon leader Sam Brannan – was the first newspaper. The Chinese Telephone Exchange Building on the south side of Washington Street, built in 1911, was built on the location of the California Star. It is now a branch bank.

In 1852, The Golden Era newspaper began publication. The building that housed The Golden Era still stands in the Jackson Square Historic District at 732 Montgomery Street. This newspaper was part of the first bohemian reign. Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Ina Coolbrith and Coolbrith’s stepfather and stepbrother worked there.

In 1856, two other newspapers printed their first editions. Nine years later, two other newspapers contributed. The Overland Monthly began publication in 1868, edited by Bret Harte. Its headquarters was 409 Washington Street, also in what is today the Jackson Square District, a block from where today’s Embarcadero Center is. The magazine published writing by Harte, Ina Coolbrith, Charles Stoddard, Ambrose Bierce, Henry George, John Muir, Joaquin Miller, Mark Twain, Stephen Powers, Josephine Clifford McCracken, Jack London and many others.

California’s first poet laureate Ina Coolbrith, then still called Josephine Donna Smith, arrived in San Francisco when she was a little girl. Her family soon moved to Los Angeles, where she lived near the plaza. She married Robert Carsley when she was 17 at the San Gabriel Mission. After the family returned to San Francisco in 1861, she lived on Russian Hill, near today’s Ina Coolbrith Park, on Taylor Street. After the 1906 earthquake, she lived at 1067 Broadway. Author Gertrude Atherton supported the Bohemian Club’s financial contribution to build Ina this house. Atherton lived for part of her marriage at 1990 California Street on the corner of Octavia.

In 1860, bookseller and book collector H. H. Bancroft occupied two deep floors on Montgomery and Merchant Streets. In 1869, he built a five-story building at 721 Market Street. In 1881, Bancroft built a two story brick building on an empty lot then on the outskirts of the city at Valencia near Mission Street to house his 35,000-volume collection.

In a 1901 novel Frank Norris’s fictional dentist McTeague opened a dentist’s office on Polk Street.

In 1919, Dashiell Hammett’s fictional detective Sam Spade walked the streets of the Tenderloin in The Maltese Falcon.

The 1947 film noir starring Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart Dark Passage showed the Malloch Building on Telegraph Hill. The view from the window of the villain Madge’s apartment was Alcatraz and Angel Island, the Cannery and Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf.

A bronze statue of Christopher Columbus stands in the parking lot on top of Telegraph Hill, financed by the Italian-American community downhill in North Beach. The bronze Columbus looks out at the Golden Gate and looking pleased but of course Columbus never saw San Francisco.

North Beach was a beach until the end of the nineteenth century, when the city filled in the cove. After the 1906 earthquake, it became “Little Italy.” Joe DiMaggio returned to Little Italy briefly with his wife Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s. The San Francisco Renaissance spread from North Beach at the end of World War II. Allen Ginsberg lived in North Beach for a time. Lawrence Ferlinghetti opened City Lights Bookstore. Queer bars and taverns offered refreshments mostly in the Broadway area during the 1950s and 1960s. The Broadway area also hosted strip clubs, and the Condor Club was the city’s first topless bar opened there in 1964.

Chinatown has grown downhill into North Beach over the years. Above Chinatown Broadway becomes quite steep as it ascends a flank of Russian Hill. Ina Coolbrith’s house, built after her earlier Russian Hill home burned in the 1906 fire, still stands at 1067 Broadway. Robert Louis Stevenson’s widow Fanny commissioned the mansion at 2323 Hyde a few years after her husband’s death. George Sterling Park is close by, near the famous curvy Lombard Street.

Jack London was born in 1876 in a Victorian house at 615 Third Street, although the historic plaque hangs on another building. That house burned down in the 1906 earthquake and fire. An old commercial structure stands at that address now. That was the area once called “South of the Slot,” close to the once prestigious South Park neighborhood. This location is to your left as your bus travels the 80 Freeway from the Bay Bridge towards San Jose.

London’s mother Flora Wellman was a spiritualist who summoned the spirit of an Indian chief, a chief who inhabited her and so she occasionally howled like a wolf and gave an Indian war whoop, practices that continued into Jack’s teenage years. His father William H. Chaney was an itinerant astrologer. Chaney left as soon as he learned Flora was pregnant. She attempted suicide, survived, and she married John London when Jack was still a baby.

From Jack London’s short story “South of the Slot”:

“Old San Francisco, which is the San Francisco of only the other day, the day before the Earthquake, was divided midway by the Slot. The Slot was an iron crack that ran along the center of Market street, and from the Slot arose the burr of the ceaseless, endless cable that was hitched at will to the cars it dragged up and down. In truth, there were two slots, but in the quick grammar of the West time was saved by calling them, and much more that they stood for, “The Slot.” North of the Slot were the theaters, hotels, and shopping district, the banks and the staid, respectable business houses. South of the Slot were the factories, slums, laundries, machine-shops, boiler works, and the abodes of the working class.”

For the duration of the short journey across the Bay Bridge you glimpse The City’s literary history in the shadows of taller new buildings. You can’t see Haight-Ashbury or the Presidio or Golden Gate Park or Cliff House, not even as blurs.

The Coast Starlight stops in San Jose at the Diridon Station. Mary Hallock Foote lived for a time with her husband at the New Almaden Mine – in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and Wallace Stegner used Foote’s writing about that time in his Angle of Repose. A bus from the Diridon Station goes over the Santa Cruz Mountains to the depot in Santa Cruz.

The next stop on the Coast Starlight is the 1941 train station in Salinas near the John Steinbeck Museum. The station architecture reflects the Spanish and Mediterranean Revival architecture popular in the region at the time but with streamlined Art Deco influences. The Steinbeck Center hosts a festival with talks, an educators’ panel and tours in May of each year. John’s childhood home is now a restaurant at 132 Central Avenue. When he was born in 1902, Salinas had a population of 3,000. It is about 156,000 now. He died in 1968 and is buried in the Garden of Memories at 788 Abbott Street, Salinas.

A bus from the Salinas station will take you to Monterey to visit the aquarium or further to Carmel and Big Sur. Mary Austin and George Sterling lived in the bohemian artist and writer colony in Carmel. Henry Miller and sometimes Lawrence Ferlinghetti and, briefly, Jack Keruoac lived in Big Sur. John Steinbeck’s long story “Flight” begins in Big Sur.

The Pacific Surfliner and the Coast Starlight and also an Amtrak bus stop at Santa Barbara at the 1902 Mission Revival train station. Santa Barbara rebuilt after the 1925 earthquake in Spanish Revival Architecture. The Franciscan-built Mission Santa Barbara (1786) stands on a hill behind the city.

After that, the Pacific Surfliner stops at the small beach town of Carpinteria. The Carpinteria Valley Museum of History has exhibits about Chumash peoples’ life along the coast, saddles from the Pastoral Era, a display showing agricultural implements – water pump, threshing equipment, butter churn – and an early kitchen with a wood burning stove from the end of the 19th century into the early 20th century. Through Ventura County to Los Angeles after that.

The structure of Union Station in Los Angeles combines Art Deco, Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne style architecture. The impression, however, is Moorish, with a gesture towards the covered patios of missions and adobe houses. Film noir Union Station (1950) with William Holden was partly shot at the train station. The “Super Chief” luxury train carried Hollywood stars to Chicago, a journey that was portrayed in the 1973 Barbara Streisand ‘s The Way We Were. In Bladerunner (1986) Union Station appears as part of the Los Angeles police station – the offices, however, were filmed in the Bradbury Building. Union Station played, and continues to play, as New York’s Grand Central and as train stations in other cities in television shows.

When you walk through Union Station you can turn left and see the line marked in pavement showing the boundary of Old Chinatown. Across the street is the Los Angeles State Historic Park, which includes the City’s first fire station, built in 1886, Olvera Street – a tourist mecca created in 1926 on what was “Wine Street,” where Charlie Chaplin filmed The Kid in 1921 – the Sepulveda House, and the oldest remaining adobe house, the Avila house built in 1828, and the remnant of the plaza. A sign indicates this place was the beginning of the City of Los Angeles, but it wasn’t. El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles was the Spanish civilian pueblo founded in 1781, founded closer to the river. The first pueblo, comprised of willow-covered huts for at least twenty years, may have been near where the Broadway Bridge crosses the river. A flood destroyed the first pueblo.

Early photographs show a large dark shape south of the pueblo: the Old Sycamore. Alisal Street is named after that tree. Both the native people and the original pueblo settlers used to meet under the Old Sycamore. The primary trading village of the people now called the Tongva was not far away – City Hall is built on about the site of the village of Yang-Na. Older travelers may remember City Hall in the Superman television series. It played “The Daily Planet.”

The Tongva people inhabited the Los Angeles basin, Santa Catalina Island and the San Fernando Valley for perhaps 15,000 years. Trade routes from Yang-Na went towards the San Gabriel Mission on the east, towards the sea on the west, and through Hollywood towards the Cahuenga Pass, where the Hollywood Bowl and Universal Studios now stand, and into the San Fernando Valley. One route went through the hills that surrounded the village to the edge of today’s Griffith Park, and then through the San Fernando Valley to what would be Ventura, and also up through the Tehachapi Mountains into the Central Valley and from there to Oakland. That route probably went past Bunker Hill through today’s Silver Lake district past what would be the first Walt Disney Studio on Hyperion.

The Spanish soldiers removed the native people to the San Gabriel and San Fernando Missions, which the Indians helped build.

Scottish immigrant Hugo Reid married a Tongva woman and adopted her two children in 1833, after the Mexican government secularized the missions. The Mission San Gabriel padres gave Victoria Reid the Rancho Santa Anita, which includes today’s racetrack and the Los Angeles County Arboretum and also the rancho that became San Marino. The “Hugo Reid Adobe,” located in the Arboretum was his commercial office. “Lucky” Baldwin later used the building as his residence. Reid acquired official private use of the properties. He wrote a series of letters to the Los Angeles Star, which explained the Tongva language and cultural practices, and he criticized the Franciscans treatment of the Indians in the missions.

Don Antonio Francisco de Coronel (1817-1894) came to Alta California as part of the Hijar-Padres Colony in 1834. In 1843, he became the Justice of the Peace, the equivalent of Mayor of Los Angeles, and served as the first Los Angeles mayor in 1853, and he was a good friend of the Indian people. He built a handsome residence at the corner of today’s Central Avenue and Seventh Street, in what would became an industrial section of Los Angeles, near the Greyhound bus depot. In 1884, Helen Hunt Jackson visited Coronel at his home, and he told her the details of everyday life that enriched her novel Ramona. He also told her the sad story of Reid’s adopted daughter, and Jackson’s interpretation of that story led to her modeling her lead character after the girl.

In the 1870s, the Anglo population surpassed the Mexican and Indian populations in Los Angeles. Victorian houses and commercial buildings replaced the flat adobe houses, although a few adobes existed alongside the newer buildings. In 1870, the Los Angeles Canal and Reservoir Company built a reservoir in a ravine carpeted in chaparral that was usually dry and dug a long serpentine canal between the river and the reservoir in the undeveloped “west” side. This became Echo Park, at the bottom of the Angelino Heights subdivision in 1890. The City created Elysian Park in 1886. Horse-drawn and then electric trolleys connected the neighborhoods of Los Angeles. In 1911, the first silent movie studios opened for business on a stretch of Alessandro, now part of Glendale Boulevard in Edendale, where silent film comedy in Southern California began.

Hollywood began with a single adobe structure built in 1853, at the base of the Cahuenga Pass. By 1870, Hollywood – named after the indigenous California holly – was a thriving agricultural community. The first street was named Prospect. It became Hollywood Boulevard but if you continue into the Los Feliz hills from Hollywood Boulevard, you’ll find you are on Prospect. In the early 1900s, film companies began moving into Hollywood.

In 1927, Don Ryan, an unemployed reporter, wrote Angel’s Flight. Angel’s flight was a miniature railroad that climbed Bunker Hill. The railroad has been moved, and Bunker Hill lowered. On it now stand the skyscrapers that make up the iconic skyline in movies.

In syncopated writing, Ryan described his ride up the tiny train to the top of Bunker Hill to see the city through the camera obscura — an optical device that consisted of a box or room with a hole in one side that let in light and images — housed in a building on top of Angel’s Flight.

“The letters painted large across an archway shunted my train of thought with a jerk on to a siding ….The groaning cable car landed me above the tops of brittle palms and loquat trees.  On the cracked concrete gray invalids were sunning themselves, wheelchairs parked in a row along the railing, over which they could look down at the city below. Another sign inviting another ascent.  With legs.  An ascent impossible to the occupants of the wheelchairs.  A long flight of wooden steps.  Perhaps, beyond, another sign will tempt a rebellious angel to try his wings …Angel’s flight.” *** The summit.  A sentry box penciled over with paltry memories of Iowa, Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio. A contrivance labeled Camera Obscura.  One of these had been a toy of Leonardo da Vinci.  I am alone.  I close the door.  It is dark inside the box.  My eyes grow accustomed by degrees to the darkness.  Something is moving on the white surface in front of me.  Colors appearing — faintly.  Shadows taking form.  It is a reflection in miniature of the city above which I am hovering.  The Camera Obscure has given me wings! *** City of the Angels ….He, he!  There you are! Crawling things moving palely across the screen.  Lacing car tracks (He may have meant the electric car tracks) among which automobiles flit like moths.  Smaller species of the arthropoda–galley-worms, millipede—men and women — scurrying in front of them, amusingly intent. I look down soon this earth-life with something of the divine contempt.  I feel something of the divine laughter.  Ho, ho!  If I am not an angel, then I am a little lower than the angels. I stretch out my hand across the living map of Los Angeles.  In a window not far below a woman is dusting a photograph, tenderly.  Around the corner a sailor ashore swings inquiringly.  At the entrance of the nearest apartment house a youth holds buy the wrist a girl, dragging at her insistently.  In the shelter of a neighboring billboard a fat deacon relieves himself, his spouse waiting on the sidewalk, demurely.

` “Pismires!  An angel watches!”

Michael Connolly was a crime reporter in Los Angeles before he wrote his Hieronymus Bosch series of detective novels that grow out of immaculate research into LA’s history and its cityscape. One of the Bosch series is Angels Flight (1999). The Narrows (2004) is the Glendale Narrows, through which the Anza expedition had traveled in the eighteenth century. Echo Park (2006) centers on the Echo Park neighborhood. His writing is pure and direct.

Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering Raymond Chandler’s detective novels about Los Angeles when he was a student at the University of Florida.

Chandler’s Philip Marlowe is a private detective. His private investigative work connects and organizes 1930s and 1940s Los Angeles. His P.I. is an outsider, a moral outsider cynical about the police, bitter about the corruption of wealth. Chandler was classically educated at Dulwich College, London, so the name “Marlowe” may be a tribute to Christopher Marlowe, an English playwright and poet of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe’s L.A. is, however, Western urban American. From “Red Wind,” a 1938 short story (1938) published in Trouble is My Business (1939): “There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

“Harry” Bosch is a cop, always at odds with the higher-ups in the police department. Both Marlowe and Bosch live by private and sincere codes of morality. Marlowe’s office was at the Hollywood end of the Cahuenga Pass. Bosch sees the Cahuenga Pass from his house windows.

Bosch’s house is a metaphor for seeing. His house rests on two slender pillars against the Santa Monica Mountains, and its front is entirely glass. The glass house is Bosch’s camera obscura. He stands behind the glass looking out and says, “This is my city.”

In the Bosch television series (2014- ), the glass reveals the city of Los Angeles from the river west to the Pacific Ocean. Below and surrounding his window to the city is everything within that frame: Bunker Hill, City Hall, the plaza, the courthouse where Bosch’s trial takes place, the Narrows, Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, Musso and Frank’s, mid-town. It comprises Ray Bradbury’s childhood, Chandler’s “down these mean streets,” Nathaniel West’s streets, Skid Row, Himes’ and Mosley’s South Central, the Venice Canal house where Bosch’s girl friend Julia lives, and James M. Caine’s Double Indemnity’s Spanish style house. The shimmering brilliant edge of the panorama is the Pacific Ocean all the way to Santa Catalina Island. For many millennia across that span of water powerful men wearing swordfish headdresses paddled reed boats and plank boats from the main land to the Channel Islands, when porpoises and swordfish leaped from the water.

Harry’s house does not exist, although Connelly identifies the address but the address is a burnt out foundation of a former cantilever house. In the Bosch novel series, Harry’s house looks out towards the east, and he watches traffic on the 101 Freeway as it enters Hollywood through the Cahuenga Pass and he can see the Hollywood Hills, and his brother’s house is on a flank of Laurel Canyon, and it looks towards the west and the Pacific Ocean.

The panoramic view of Los Angeles shown on the television series probably does not exist except from an airplane or from the top of the Santa Monica Mountains. An excellent real view of Los Angeles may be seen from the Griffith Park Observatory – a significant film location of Rebel Without A Cause (1955), which speaks for the spark of rebellion in a generation locked in the conformity of the post World War II years. A bust of James Dean, a primary actor in the film, rests on a side of the observatory grounds that looks out to the San Fernando Valley – also a part of the City of Los Angeles. Two locations in Runyon Canyon, which, like Bosch’s fictional house may be reached by Mulholland Drive, also provide excellent views of Los Angeles on the downtown side.

Chandler, James Ellroy in his L.A. Quartet series of novels, and Connelly picture Los Angeles as anarchistic — its political and societal institutions oppressive and mindless. Only the most heroic can incise moments of clarity and justice. The works of all three authors have been made into films, which turn their interpretations of this city into visual currency of palm trees, to paraphrase Kevin Starr, the nodding wise giraffes of its background rising up to 70 feet high over the futile dreamscape.

Only Charles Bukowski’s poetry and short stories about low-life L.A. and Hollywood and Marxist Mike Davis’s City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990) develop the anarchistic experience of LA as compellingly as these three writers.

The Surfliner goes south from Union Station to San Diego. The Gaslamp Quarter is an historic district of San Diego once called New Town, in contrast to Old Town, which was the original Spanish Colonial settlement of San Diego. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park includes many buildings from the period 1820 to 1870. Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá (1769) was the first Franciscan mission in the Province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The San Juan Capistrano Mission is within walking distance of the Amtrak station. Amtrak also stops at the Anaheim Station, about 2.5 miles from Disneyland.

The routes are both real and metaphorical. A road is a course, a way to an end or a conclusion.

The obvious conclusion state’s history fed its literature. This history recapitulates all of human history in about 300 years: from what Marx called “primitive communism,” reflected in the egalitarian hunter-gatherer millennia in California, the peonage of the Mission era and the feudal Pastoral Era, the rise of cities and resource plunder, the transformation and degradation of the natural environment, the utopian and environmentalist and labor opposition movements, and growth of artificial intelligence and technology.

Suggested viewing:

Thom Andersen’s LA Plays Itself (2003). Do not download the item marked “free download.” Your computer will become corrupted, and, if you call the help line, you will talk with an East Indian gentleman and you will not understand what he says. In subsequent days and weeks, the East Indian gentleman will call and ask repeatedly how to get into your computer to help you. “Force Quit” seems to work to get rid of the computer problem. Nothing will get rid of the Indian gentleman.

Selected Sources:

Adah Bakalinsky, Stairway Walks in San Francisco (Wilderness Press 2010)

Elna Bakker and Gordy Stack, An Island Called California: An Ecological Introduction to the Natural Communities (University of California Press 1972).

John Bengston, Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Charlie Chaplin (Santa Monica Press 2006).

William H. Brewer, Up and Down California (1860-1864), 4th edition (University of California Press, 2003).

John W. Caughey with Norris Hundley, Jr., California, History of a Remarkable State (Fourth edition, copyright 1940, 1953, 1970, 1982, Prentice Hall, Inc.).

Laura Cunningham, A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (2010, Heydey Books).

William Deverell, Greg Hise, Land of Sunshine: An Environmental History of Metropolitan Los Angeles (2006 University of Pittsburgh Press)

Joan Didion, Where I was From (2004 Vintage Reprint edition)

John Fante, Dreams from Bunker Hill (Harper Perennial 2002)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Nancy J. Peters, Literary San Francisco (City Lights Books and Harper & Row Publishers (1980). This is a pictorial history.

Charles Fleming, Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles (2010, Santa Monica Press, LLC)

Robert Fogelson, Bourgeois Nightmares: Suburbia 1870-1930 (2007) Yale University Press). This small book explains the restrictive racial covenants that shaped many of the neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

Robert Fogelson, The Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles 1850-1930 (1993 University of California Press). Professor Fogelson explains how it is that the enormous, often dysfunctional, crazy quilt of Los Angeles came to be.

Clarence A. Hall, Introduction to the Geology of Southern California and Its Native Plants (2007 University of California Press)

Arthur D. Howard, Geologic History of Middle California (1979 University of California Press).

Jack Hicks, James D. Houston, Maxine Hong Kingston and Al Young, editors, The Literature of California volume 1. (University of California Press, 2000).

Norris Hundley, Jr., The Great Thirst: Californians and Water (University of California Press, second edition 2001)

Leonard Michaels, David Reid and Raquel Scherr, editors, West of the West, Imagining California. (North Point Press, 1989)

Harris Newmark, Sixty Years in Southern California, online full text. https://archive.org/stream/sixtyyearsinsout00newmrich/sixtyyearsinsout00newmrich_djvu.txt. (Retrieved August 15, 2015)

Carey McWilliams, Southern California: An Island on the Land (1980 Gibbs Smith)

Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, (Revised edition, 1993)

Rand Richards, Historic Walks in San Francisco (2001 Great West Books, First US Edition)

_________, Historic San Francisco: A Concise History and Guide (Heritage House 1991)

Gary Soto, editor, California Childhood: Recollections and Stories of the Golden State (Creative Arts Book Co., 1988). These stories are about the childhoods of some of California’s writers.

Kevin Starr, Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915. (Oxford University Press 2003)

_____, Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era (Oxford University Press, 1985)

______, Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s. (Oxford University Press, 1990)

_______, Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California (Oxford University Press, 1996)

______, The Dream Endures: California Enters the 1940s (Oxford Press, 1997)

_____Embattled Dreams: California in War and Peace, 1940-1950 (Oxford University Press, 2003)

______Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2002 (Vintage, Reprint edition, 2006)

_____, California, a History (Random House, 2005)

_______, Golden Dreams: California in An Age of Abundance, 1950-1963. (Oxford University Press US, 2009)

Franklin Dickerson Walker, A Literary History of Southern California (University of California Press, first edition, 1950)

________, San Francisco’s Literary Frontier (A. A. Knopf, 1939)

James Weiner, “Polynesians in California: Evidence for an Ancient Exchange?” Ancient History et cetera, March 16, 2013, http://etc.ancient.eu/2013/03/26/polynesians-in-california-evidence-for-an-ancient-exchange/. (Retrieved 1/20/2016)

Suggested travel:

California state parks: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21944. (Retrieved March 5, 2015). Some public parks have wheelchair access.

Identify and stay away from poison oak. If you do accidentally touch it, wash it off as soon as possible with soap and hot water.

Sierra Club hikes. Type in “California” in the search function. http://content.sierraclub.org/outings/. (Retrieved March 5, 2015) Remember to identify and stay away from poison oak. Bring enough water.

The routes for the De Anza trail are at: http://www.cahighways.org/deanza.html. (Retrieved October 31, 2015)

Sacramento

The California Museum. 1020 O Street, Sacramento.

Crocker Art Museum. The Crocker offers permanent California art and photography exhibits. Third Sunday of the month is free. 216 O Street, Sacramento. The California paintings are beautiful.

San Francisco

Hudson Bell conducts walking tours through San Francisco. http://www.fernhilltours.com/#!classic-san-francisco-tour/cee5. (Retrieved 10/14/2015).

Don Herron conducts a Dashiell Hammet walking tour. His book is Dashiell Hammett Tour (Dawn Herron 1982). Herron also wrote Literary World of San Francisco and its Environs, edited by Nancy Peters (City Lights 1985)

Bill Morgan, The Beat Generation in San Francisco, edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (City Lights, 2003)

Rand Richards, Historic Walks in San Francisco (Fifth printing,

Heritage House 2006). Richards provides 18 walking tours in San Francisco.

He mentions literary sites, which include references to sites in the city related to Dashiell Hammett, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, H. H. Bancroft, Herb Caen, Ina Coolbrith, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Mark Twain.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s interactive website on literary San Francisco also includes several East Bay sites: http://www.sfchronicle.com/theliterarycity/. (Retrieved 10/14/2015)

Also, http://www.7×7.com/culture/literary-walking-tour-san-francisco-0. (Retrieved 10/14/2015)

Also, https://www.citywalkingguide.com/sanfrancisco/citylightsbookstore. (Retrieved 10/14/2015)

Coit Tower is open to the public.

East San Francisco Bay

Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP)”s Adventure and Outings Program offers outdoor recreation activities, group adventure outings and urban outings for disabled children and adults.

East San Francisco Bay: https://www.facebook.com/walkingeastbay. (Retrieved March 5, 2015). This Facebook page is for the book on the East Bay installment of Wilderness Press Walking Guide series, due to be published in March 2015.

Greenbelt Alliance walking tours. Click on the “events & outings” tab. http://www.greenbelt.org.

Oakland Museum, Oakland. 1000 Oak Street, Oakland. The Gallery of California History begins with the period “Before the Other People Came.”

Los Angeles area

Bradbury building: Filmed in Blade Runner and many other movies. It is the oldest commercial building remaining in the central city. You can – and should – go inside. 304 S. Broadway Street, Los Angeles, California.

Griffith Park recreation: http://www.griffithobs.org/about/recreationandparks.html. (Retrieved March 5, 2015)

Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer Street, Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Conservancy walking tours: https://www.la conservancy.org. (Retrieved March 5, 2015)

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. 301 N. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia. The gardens are lovely. Hugo Reid’s restored adobe is here, as is a Queen Anne Victorian house built by “Lucky” Baldwin for his fourth wife. This was the film location of many movies, including Creature of the Black Lagoon. In the television series “Fantasy Island” the actor who played Tattoo appeared in the cupola or tower of the Queen Anne house calling, “Da plane! Da plane!” He actually only went up there once but the scene is repeated over and over.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, 900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles. The Ancient Latin American Art Exhibit is also permanent, as is Becoming L.A., which starts with the Spanish Era.

Olvera Street is the oldest part of built downtown Los Angeles and is part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. 845 N. Alameda Street, Los Angeles. Olvera Street itself is worth seeing for the tourist kitsch. The plaza began, in Spanish fashion, as a rectangle but is now a circle. The location of the first plaza, designed by Governor De Neve – his statue is in the park – is not known, although several scholars have made good guesses.

The park includes the Avila Adobe, built in 1828, the Pio Pico Hotel, the Sepulveda House, the Chinese American Museum, and the first fire station (1886).

Union Station is across the street. The architecture is an iconic mix of Art Deco and Spanish Colonial architecture. You can see it in the Barbra Streisand film, The Way We Were. The City demolished Old Chinatown to build this train station. New Chinatown is a few blocks to the northeast.

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight – the train from Los Angeles to Seattle — starts up the coast from here. If you take the Coast Starlight, arrive early to get a window seat. The train will go through places you can’t see from the highways. At one point, a little below San Luis Obispo, it seems as if the train is suspended over the Pacific Ocean.

San Gabriel Mission, 428 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel. The Spanish government established 21 Catholic missions in California. The mission objective had been to convert the native people into Catholic farmers and eventually to turn the mission lands over to the Indians. The result of “missionization” was catastrophic to the native people. The settlers that founded Los Angeles stayed at the San Gabriel mission before walking the eleven miles to the pueblo site.

Orange County

Disneyland and California Adventure Park. California Adventures hosts attractions that recreate aspects of California history. The “Soarin’ Over California” flight simulator ride takes you over the Truckee River, the Sierras, Malibu and Palm Springs. The first Walt Disney Studio was on Hyperion in Los Angeles. The section called Hollywood Land features the Hyperion Theater. Paradise Pier re-creates what Venice and Santa Monica on a smaller scale. Grizzly Peak is a water ride that briefly simulates white water rafting down a California River.

Irvine Museum. 18881 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine. Exhibits of California’s impressionist paintings. http://www.irvinemuseum.org/. (Retrieved October 31, 2015)

 

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