Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-1978

Front Cover
Chris Carlsson, LisaRuth Elliott
City Lights Books, 2011 - History - 344 pages

A collection of first-person and historical essays spans the tumultuous decade from 1968, the year of the San Francisco State College strike, to 1978 and the twin traumas of the Jonestown massacre and the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. This volume provides a broad look at the diverse ways those ten years shook the City and shaped the world we live in today. From community gardening to environmental justice, gay rights and other identity-based social movements, anti-gentrification efforts, neighborhood arts programs and more, many of the initiatives whose origins are described here have taken root and spread far beyond San Francisco.

"These bottom-up histories, written both by movement veterans and younger historians, provide a fascinating look at the ways people in a pivotal city shaped a pivotal decade. From hotel workers to cultural workers, college campuses to city streets, collective living to urban gardening, this book captures the sights, sounds and desires of a city in revolt. Its pages reveal the roots of our current struggles."
--Dan Berger, editor of The Hidden 1970s: Histories of Radicalism

"Militant urbanist and writer, Chris Carlsson, has brought together a brilliant collection of essays by historians and memoirists of a neglected decade that reveal the originality and solidity of social movements which, despite tragic failures, have guaranteed that San Francisco would maintain a utopian vision of what is possible. Each contribution is a jewel, storytelling at its best." --Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, author of A Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960-1975

"What a vivid, well-written tour through the wide range of community struggles and movements in this most political of American cities." --Chester Hartman, City for Sale: The Transformation of San Francisco

"Ten Years That Shook The City cracks open our understanding of San Francisco's cultures and communities during one of the most formative yet under analyzed periods in recent history. It succeeds not only because it collects an amazing range of San Francisco voices reflecting on an awesome spectrum of topical issues between '68 to '78, but also because those voices speak to us in a compelling variety of forms. Its thoroughly edifying to sink into these grassroots San Francisco stories and discover a lively mix of personal memoir, ecological field guild, political-economy, deep neighborhood history, workers' struggles, visual study and more on issues as far reaching as radical Third Worldism, urban farming, rock concerts, garment workers, street posters, and comic books." --Sean Burns, author of the forthcoming biography Archie Green: The Making of a Working-Class Hero

"Ten Years That Shook the City is a brilliant palimpsest of a time and a place: San Francisco in a revolutionary decade that changed just about every part of the city and everything about how we live today. This magnificent collection brings together voices from the cutting edges of feminism, gay liberation, Latino and Asian mobilizations, environmentalism, community housing and more, and proves once again what an extraordinary city we have the good fortune to inherit." ---Richard Walker, Professor of Geography, University of California, and author of The Country in the City and The Conquest of Bread.

"Ten Years that Shook the City examines the early history of many of San Francisco's cultural treasures that provide the bedrock for today's social change efforts. Written by people who were active in building the everyday institutions we now take for granted, the collection examines the radical democratic ethos that still permeates the city's politics and cultural life. This is a vital resource, which provides the backstory for all of us who came to San Francisco because of its radical culture and politics." ---Dorothy Kidd, Professor of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco

"What did happen in the years following the storied 1960's? Did political and social activism die away, move to the country, or get co-opted by the mainstream? Clearly not, as detailed in this new book of essays, edited by local community activist and historian, Chris Carlsson. Primarily first-person accounts, each chapter is chock full of stories from the front lines, written by participants who organized, agitated, and created social change in the city well into the 1970s and beyond. Currents run together from the anti-war and labor movements, gay and women’s liberation, struggles against redevelopment and racism and towards the building of cooperatives, ecological awareness, and political art and culture. Gathered together, these snapshots of activism tell a powerful story, showing how the groundwork was laid for much of the progressive movement that still exists today in San Francisco. The lessons of continuity are strong, with the foundations of many of today’s institutions and organizations rooted in the radical political and cultural movements from this time period." ---Susan Goldstein, City Archivist, San Francisco Public Library

"For anyone who lived through San Francisco's greatest years, the 1960s and 1970s, this book is a treasure-house of reminders, information and perspectives on what happens when a community really AWAKENS politically, ecologically and socially. No-one has ever done a better job of capturing this than Chris Carlsson in this book. For those who were not here, settle down and learn what the 60s-70s cultural revolution in the city may teach us about how we should deal with a difficult future. This is great reading for anyone." ---Jerry Mander, author of Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television and In the Absence of the Sacred



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About the author (2011)

Chris Carlsson, executive director of the multimedia history project "Shaping San Francisco" (foundsf.org), is a writer, publisher, editor and community organizer. He was a founder of the ground-breaking magazine Processed World, and helped launch the monthly bike-ins known as Critical Mass that have spread to five continents and over 300 cities. Carlsson has edited and authored numerous books, including Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture.