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Portal: San Francisco’s Ferry Building and the Reinvention of American Cities

November 16, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Join two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist John King in discussion on his new book Portal: San Francisco’s Ferry Building and the Reinvention of American Cities.

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. 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.

Join us for this informative discussion, book signing, and audience Q&A, where King will answer questions on everything from parklets to Salesforce Tower.

“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

“John King is an architectural Indiana Jones, revealing the careening drama and the struggle for consensus as to what a city should be. An account that is both authoritative and fun to read.” Anthony Flint, Senior Fellow, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and author of Wrestling with Moses

John King is urban design critic at the San Francisco Chronicle and a two-time Pulitzer finalist, the author of two guidebooks to San Francisco architecture, and an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He lives in Berkeley, California.


Mechanics’ Institute

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