If you think you fully appreciate San Francisco architecture, then I invite you take a second look through the eyes of author John King, and his book Cityscapes. He dissects our fair city in a way that almost seems irreverent but is actually both insightful and genuine.
"Reduced to its basics, there’s little to love about the Transamerica Pyramid," says King of the book's first subject. But the critic doesn't let his discerning eye cloud his overall opinion. "Yet it’s a uniquely memorable building, a triumph of the unexpected, unreal and engaging all at once," he confesses, and admits that "It is [both] a presence and a persona," as if the building is some pop icon from the 80s.
King's book not only highlights the City's most beloved pieces, but also "the background players," as he refers to them, such as 77 New Montgomery Street. (And, yes, pulling that address up on Google Street View counts as cheating. But? Here you go.) For this is not some overly confident picture book solely for the coffee table. At just about 100 pages, the book is a collection of museum placards for San Francisco architecture and should appreciated accordingly, in person.
"John King is making it possible for even strangers, let alone residents, to experience San Francisco like never before. Just the visuals are enough to satisfy your appetite but to then read the description makes you know that you've got to go pay a visit. A must book for everybody," says Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco.
King started "Cityscape" as a weekly column in the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2009 and is a Pulitzer-finalist urban design critic. I highly recommend Cityscapes the book for your next Sunday drive, or even if you're just trapped on Muni.