Beat poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti has seen San Francisco through many eras of change. Arriving here in 1951 at the age of 31, the 95-year-old North Beach resident knew the city at a time when, according to one newsreel included in this new KQED piece, San Francisco was the "youngest of the world's renowned cities." He says at the time it was "an offshore republic [and] a wide open city. You could come here and start anything you wanted," and now it's just "an artistic theme park without artists."

Certainly Ferlinghetti could be counted on to take up the cause of Vanishing SF and all those who have bemoaned SF's loss of character, or sense of place, in recent years. KQED approached him for their new Boomtown series, in which they're exploring SF's history of booms and busts, and he of course knew just what to say. "Now it’s like the rest of the country. Our city is like all the other cities. We’ve lost that feeling of being a unique place. I think the electronic revolution has caused that. So with the Internet it becomes flat earth. We’re living in the flat earth now."