The City's First Dot-Com, 1969: George Lucas and Francis Coppola's American Zoetrope

I love San Francisco history, so when I was hired as a webmonkey for the gay porn site NakedSword in 2005, I was thrilled to discover that the office space had once been the Ritch Street Health Club, a legendary gay bathhouse from the 1960s and '70s. Apropos!

For a brief period at the turn of the decade, that bathhouse had an illustrious neighbor at nearby 827 Folsom: American Zoetrope, the independent studio founded by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas to prove they didn't need dumb ol' Hollywood.

Gary Leva's documentary A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope tells that story. It's eerily prescient of the countless dot-coms that would later move into SoMa warehouses to try (and mostly fail) to live out their dreams, all while spending too much money on the wrong things — like espresso machines and pool tables.

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