The Lure of San Francisco

by david on 17 October 2010

When a Californian calls something “old,” it’s usually not as old as something a Bostonian would call “old.” As a native Californian, I have often been reminded of this. “Well,” says my Easterner friend, “we wouldn’t call this ‘old’ back home.”

It turns out that this scenario is at least a century old, for it occurs on the very first page of The Lure of San Francisco:

“I believe you Californians have but two dates on your calendar,” he exclaimed, “for everything I mentioned seems to have happened either ‘before the fire’ or ‘in the good old days of forty-nine!’ ‘Good old days of forty-nine,’ ” he repeated, amused. “In Boston we date back to the Revolution, and ‘in Colonial times’ is a common expression. We have buildings a hundred years old, but if you have a structure that has lasted a decade, it is a paragon and pointed out as built ‘before the fire.’ “

The Lure of San Francisco is written as a long conversation between the narrator, a native San Franciscan woman, and her Bostonian guest. They visit the four principal sights of pre-1906 San Francisco: Mission Dolores, the Presidio, Portsmouth Plaza, and Telegraph Hill.

The book has a beautiful cover with a nautical motif, and is elegantly illustrated inside with eight tonalist drawings by Audley B. Wells. It was one of more than a dozen books Elder published during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Cover of "The Lure of San Francisco"

Cover of "The Lure of San Francisco"

Title page of "The Lure of San Francisco"

Title page of "The Lure of San Francisco"

"The Lure of San Francisco", page 8-9

"The Lure of San Francisco", page 8-9

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