Bikes to Books Map
San Francisco is famous for many things, one of which is its vast literary legacy, a legacy that stretches back to its earliest days. On January 25, 1988, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a proposal by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights Books to rename 12 small San Francisco streets after famous authors and artists who had lived and worked in the City.
On Sunday, October 2, 1988, a ceremony and unveiling of new street signs was held at City Lights Bookstore (which was also celebrating its 35th anniversary). Mayor Art Agnos declared October 2nd to be “City Lights Bookstore Day in San Francisco,” and an enormous crowd showed up at City Lights. After a number of speeches by literary notables, the first signs were unveiled at Kerouac Street (between City Lights and Vesuvio’s Bar) and William Saroyan Place (between Spec’s Bar and the Tosca Café), where the celebration continued into the night.
Twenty-five years later, Nicole Gluckstern, a local author/city cyclist and Burrito Justice, an amateur historian/cartographer, joined forces to devise a bike tour and interactive map connecting all 12 streets and authors/artists, from Jack London to Jack Kerouac, South Park to North Beach. The 7.1 mile tour, which takes between two and three hours to complete, is admittedly not for the faint of heart nor gear—these streets were not chosen for their proximity to bike lanes, and there is plenty of traffic to dodge, hills to climb, one-way streets, and even a set of stairs. But it’s a diverting and unique way to celebrate both the literary and the adventurous spirit of San Francisco.
A 18″x24″ foldable map of the bike route is available for sale at City Lights Bookstore and select San Francisco book shops:
- Adobe Books (24th @ Folsom)
- Alleycat (24th @ Harrison)
- Modern Times (24th @ Alabama)
- Dog Eared Books (Valencia @ 20th)
- Needles and Pens (16th @ Guerrero)
- Borderlands (Valencia @ 20th)
- Viracocha (Valencia @ 20th)
- Green Arcade (Market @ Gough)
- Green Apple (Inner Richmond, 6th Ave @ Clement)
- Paul’s Hat Works (Outer Richmond, Geary @ 25th Ave)
- Other Avenues (Outer Sunset, Judah @ 44th Ave)
- City Lights (North Beach, Columbus @ Broadway)
In addition to the 13 authors and artists, the maps contains a detailed description of the bike route, as well as over two dozen era-specific points of interests.
Zoom and enhance:
On the back of the map is a selected, San Francisco-centric bibliography of the 13 authors and artists.
The Bikes to Books map is also available as a slippy, zoomable online version, with lots of pop-ups and links.
Profound and utter thanks go to Noah Veltman for the online map.