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The Bay Area gets litmapped by the San Francisco Chronicle

October 07, 2013|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • The new literary map of San Francisco.
The new literary map of San Francisco. (San Francisco Chronicle )

Congratulations to the San Francisco Chronicle for launching a literary map of its city. The interactive map includes quotes from famed San Francisco area authors, including Dashiell Hammett, John Steinbeck and Armistead Maupin.

Not unlike our own literary map of Los Angeles.

Of course, the Golden Gate Bridge has appeared many times in the literature of San Francisco, but the map stretches farther afield. There's Hammett on the Stockton Tunnell, Hunter S. Thompson on the Daley City Drive-in, Ishmael Reed on Oakland and Alegra Goodman on the Berkeley Hills.

Not every passage pinpointed on the San Francisco literary map is from an author closely identified with the city. Berkeley is mentioned in passages by Thomas Pynchon (Seattle, Texas, Los Angeles, New York) and Jonathan Lethem (New York and now Southern California). The San Francisco Bay is glimpsed by Polish travel writer Czeslaw Milosz: "There is San Francisco Bay, metallic and darkening now, taking only some of the sky's green, yellow, and carmine."

That particular passage comes with a gorgeous photo -- the bay miraculously lighted up in green, yellow and carmine -- and that's one of the pleasures of an online literary map. The armchair travel-ness opportunities of seeing a city through the authors who have written about it, with some visual aids and the geography simple and clickable.

Next up: visiting our literary city to the north in person.


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