Ghosts of San Francisco's Past

People who’ve lived in San Francisco for a decade or more often grouse about how much cooler the city used to be, usually around the time they moved here. But what about how the city was before any of us arrived, or were even born? Now in its seventh year, archivist Rick Prelinger’s “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco” series makes a strong case for the coolness of the city in the early-to-mid 20th century, captured almost incidentally at the time in primary sources such as newsreels, industrial films, home movies, and studio outtakes. Scanned to high-definition digital from the original films — and often looking better than their creators could have ever imagined — tonight’s show includes such fascinating footage as shipwrecks in the bay, early transit vehicles, the Japanese-American community in the pre-redevelopment Western Addition, the Sutro Baths (always a Lost Landscapes favorite), the Tenderloin, and more. And it’s not just a passive screening, either; Prelinger encourages the audience to shout at the screen, to identify locations, ask questions, and participate in the discussion, to essentially crowdsource our history — and, hopefully, to get us to think more about the importance of preserving our past and our present for the future to enjoy.
Tue., Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m., 2012

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