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Maps from Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas


A Cropped Part of Rebecca Solnit's Monarchs and Queens Map 2010

This exhibit will be on display May 22-28, 2015 at the Branner Earth Sciences Library and Map Collections.

Rebecca Solnit, a former visiting fellow at the Bill Lane Center for the American West and Stanford University Libraries where she focused on Glen McLaughin’s collection of Maps of California as an Island, is a writer, historian and activist based in the Bay Area. She has authored fifteen books, including Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas (2010).

The atlas features twenty-two maps, seven of which were also published as broadsides. This exhibit features a deliberate selection of four of these broadsides to expose the breadth and depth of the maps in this atlas. Each map is seen through a different lens, juxtaposing sometimes disparate-sometimes related topics such as queer public spaces and butterfly habitats, toxic sites and food places, conservative places and military places. Other maps focus on the “tribes” of San Francisco; Hitchcock’s vertigo and South of Market (SoMa) in 1960 before redevelopment and one on identities and memory.  All of them bring out in sharp relief the amalgamation of ideas, culture, people and the history of San Francisco to make it the place that it is today.

Each broadside, bar one, has rich explanations on the verso of each map. You will see this illustrated in one example, Tribes of San Francisco: Their comings and goings, featured in this exhibit.  As you complete the viewing of this visual feast, proceed to check these maps out to examine them in detail and read the text on the verso. These will be available to be checked out on May 29, 2015.


This exhibit is part of the anniversary celebration commemorating the 100th year since the founding of the Branner Earth Sciences Library & Map Collections (June 14, 1915 - June 15, 2015).

Counting down to the anniversary on June 14, each week we will be exhibiting items from our collection and archive. This exhibition is part of an ongoing series of anniversary events that culminate with a public celebration, speakers, and tour of the library on Thursday, June 11, 2015 from 4-6:30pm. Please be sure to join us!