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Down by the Bay

San Francisco's History between the Tides

Matthew Booker


List Price: 24.95*
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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (6/7/2013)


San Francisco Bay is the largest and most productive estuary on the Pacific Coast of North America. It is also home to the oldest and densest urban settlements in the American West. Focusing on human inhabitation of the Bay since Ohlone times, Down by the Bay reveals the ongoing role of nature in shaping that history. From birds to oyster pirates, from gold miners to farmers, from salt ponds to ports, this is the first history of the San Francisco Bay and Delta as both a human and natural landscape. It offers invaluable context for current discussions over the best management and use of the Bay in the face of sea level rise.

Praise For Down by the Bay: San Francisco's History between the Tides

"Booker gives the city a fresh face; the familiar becomes strange and wonderful. . . . Down by the Bay is a genuine pearl in the sea of contemporary environmental writing."
— San Francisco Chronicle

"The history of San Francisco is not only the story of a great world city, it's also the story of a great body of water that both supported and was impacted by rapid urban growth. In his natural (and human) history of San Francisco Bay, author Matthew Morse Booker focuses on waterfront and tidal wetlands. It is there that decades of human activity, such as dredging and upriver hydraulic mining, have reshaped, polluted and irrevocably altered the marine environment."
— Sacramento Bee

"Down by the Bay is an intriguing, highly readable account of the neglected history of San Francisco Bay’s tidelands."
— Enviromental History

"...well written and filled with intriguing historical details that enliven the text."
— Biological Conservation

"...explores an impressive range of topics."
— American Historical Review

Down by the Bay is a genuine pearl in the sea of contemporary environmental writing."
— Boom

University of California Press, 9780520355569, 294pp.

Publication Date: June 9, 2020

About the Author

Matthew Morse Booker is Associate Professor of History at North Carolina State University. He was previously Visiting Assistant Professor at Stanford and leads the Between the Tides project at Stanford’s Spatial History Lab, mapping San Francisco Bay's dynamic tidal margin.