Green Apple Books is located in the Inner Richmond. I live in the Outer Richmond, the outsidelands as it was once know, long before there was a music festival of that name rocking Golden Gate Park every summer. The area was called the outsidelands for a good reason- for the first 50 years of San Francisco history, there wasn't much out here but sand dunes and fog. Mark Twain described an 1864 venture to the outsidelands this way: "The wind was cold and benumbing, and blew with such force that we could hardly make headway against it. It came straight from the ocean, and I think there are icebergs out there somewhere. True, there was not much dust, because the gale blew it all to Oregon in two minutes... From the moment we left the stable, almost, the fog was so thick that we could scarcely see fifty yards behind or before, or overhead; and for a while, as we approached the Cliff House, we could not see the horse at all, and were obliged to steer by his ears." That sounds familiar. Maybe it was on this journey through the outsidelands that he didn't say that the coldest winter he ever spent was here in San Francisco.
Anyway, I picked up that Twain story and a whole lot more when I got lost in Mary Germain Hountalas's The San Francisco Cliff House. It is an illustrated history of that famous tourist destination, along with Sutro Heights and the Sutro Baths. Filled with plenty of stories and pictures I'd never seen before, I've lost precious hours browsing through it. For example, did you know that in the early 1860s, a tightrope walker strung a rope from the Cliff House to Seal Rock?
Another book of local history that just came to us is Carville-by-the-Sea, by local historian Woody LaBounty, who runs the outsidelands website. For those of you not in the know, Carville was a squatters camp built from old transit cars in the 1890s near the Southwest corner of Golden Gate Park. I haven't had a chance to dig through this obeauty yet, but it is illustrated with lots or rare color and b&w photos. We're doing an event with Woody on November 11 here at the store.