I was born and raised in San Francisco, the city being my family's home since 1856. When
I meet people who used to live in San Francisco or visited in years gone by, they often
give me the tired old line, "I used to love going there but it's no longer the same." That's
the point of my book, San
Francisco's Lost Landmarks
, published by Quill Driver Books / Word Dancer
Press. San Francisco has never been "the same" in its entire history and it's
not just because of the 1906 earthquake and fire. The city began in a state of
metamorphosis and has never stopped. Fifty years from now, the complaints will be the same.
I've captured some of the fun places and events in the city with the goal of entertaining
first, then educating. There's no test at the end of
Francisco's Lost Landmarks
over 150 photos and graphic representations, it's written to be
is available at local bookstores and through Amazon.com as well as from
this site (autographed).
A second book, California
Snatch Racket: Kidnappings in the Prohibition and Depression Years
complete and will be published by Craven Street Books, release planned for
Spring 2010. Co-authored with noted radio personality, writer and historian W. Lane
Rogers, it offers a new looks at the kidnapping trend of the early twentieth century.
My first book about Playand at the San
Francisco's Playland at the Beach: The Early Years
was written with many thanks to the support from
friends. It's casual reading - nearly 250 photos with captions covering the period from the
park's soft opening in the mid-1910s until 1940. See the Big Dipper Roller Coaster being built and then ride it through the "80 foot" drop - 21 pictures of the Big Dipper alone including the builders getting out to push. Nineteen rides covered as well as a slew of attractions, arcades and restaurants including the Hot House and Topsy's Roost.
The latest book about Playand at the Beach, San
Francisco's Playland at the Beach: The Golden Years
is a comprehensively documented and illustrated history of the park from 1940
until its closing in 1972. It is the definitive and authoritative look at one of America's
landmark amusement parks, Playland at the Beach, a glamorous park that is still revered by
San Franciscans more than 40 years after it closed. Rare photographs of Playland at the
Beach include the Fun House, the famous Looff Merry-Go-Round, the clubs & attractions (remember
Chet Helms' Family Dog and the Model Car Raceways?). Not to be missed are photos of the park's
great rides like Shoot the Chutes, the Big Dipper and the Diving Bell. Take stroll down memory
lane to San Francisco's Ocean Beach from World War II to 1972 when this beloved amusement
park closed forever.
California historian James R. Smith
is the author of San Francisco's Lost Landmarks
and San Francisco's Playland at the Beach: The Early Years
as well as a number of historical articles. He co-authored The
California Snatch Racket: Kidnappings during the Prohibition and Depression Eras
friend and noted author W. Lane Rogers.