SPUR Event: Planning on the Edge: 6 West Coast Planning Directors, Wed. Nov. 4

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The San Francisco Planning Department and SPUR (San Francisco Planning +
Urban Research Association) proudly present


A conversation with the Planning Directors of six of North America’s most
innovative cities (at least we think so)

Bill Anderson – San Diego, CA
Susan Anderson – Portland, OR
Amanda Burden – New York, NY
John Rahaim – San Francisco, CA
Diane Sugimura – Seattle, WA
Brent Toderian – Vancouver, BC

When: Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 –  6:00 to 8:00PM
Where: San Francisco City Hall – North Light Court This is a free event

Saving The Bay | KQED Documentary Series Begins Thur Oct. 8

Saving The Bay | KQED Public Media for Northern CA.

Narrated by Robert Redford, this lively and timely series is about one of America’s greatest natural resources – San Francisco Bay. Shot in high definition, it consists of four episodes focusing on the geological, cultural, and developmental history of San Francisco Bay and the larger northern California watershed, from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the Farallon Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
From the Gold Rush to the Golden Gate Bridge, and through World’s Fairs and World Wars, San Francisco Bay has been central to the identity of one of the world’s leading economic, academic, recreational, and cultural regions. This series explores its evolution, how we almost lost and then saved the Bay, and how we are planning for the future, including wetland restoration, increased public access, and balancing the often competing needs of a fragile ecosystem that is the centerpiece of a major urban area.

Upcoming Broadcasts:

Marvel of Nature (Prehistory – 1848) (#101) Duration: 56:31 CC Stereo TVG

In the first episode, photo-realistic animation illustrates the formation of the Bay following the last Ice Age. It introduces the first inhabitants along the Bay’s shores, including Native Peoples along with flora and fauna, and continues through European exploration and settlement, including Spanish, Russian and ultimately, American influences that dramatically altered the region.

Harbor of Harbors (1849 – 1906) (#102) Duration: 56:42 CC Stereo TVG

This episode follows San Francisco’s “rapid monstrous maturity” into a major metropolis following the California Gold Rush. Establishing the infrastructure to support the instant city meant radical change for San Francisco Bay. By the century’s end, San Francisco Bay was the center of a broad economic empire on the Pacific.

Miracle Workers (1906 – 1959) (#103) Duration: 56:58 CC Stereo TVG

This episode begins with The Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, which accelerated the dispersion of people and industry to the East Bay region. Advances in engineering gave rise to the first of California’s massive water re-distribution projects, paralleling the era of great bridge building. World War II saw the Bay transformed into the greatest shipbuilding center the world had ever known.

Bay in the Balance (#104) Duration: 56:46 CC Stereo TVG

In the final episode, the very survival of the Bay is threatened by the postwar boom. Viewers are introduced to the leaders of the Save the Bay campaign of the 1960s and the birth of the national mass environmental movement. As the Bay Area looks to the future, the issue becomes how best to balance the competing demands of a major urban center set amidst an environmentally significant landscape.

USC’s Archives Bazaar resurrects L.A.’s history — latimes.com

USC’s Archives Bazaar resurrects L.A.’s history — latimes.com.

They gathered outside a nightclub called the Black Cat one winter night in 1967, perhaps a few hundred men and women in all, joined together in a moment of happy subversion on a Silver Lake street. Weeks earlier, police had swept through the club and arrested 14 people after witnessing, at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, the “crime” of one man kissing another.

It’s unlikely any of the protesters had been to an organized gay-rights demonstration — the movement in Los Angeles was then in its infancy. Someone brought a camera and snapped a few pictures. Finally the demonstrators dispersed. They put away or threw away the signs they had made.

There are precious few known artifacts remaining from the Black Cat protest, an event that preceded by more than two years the famous Stonewall “riots” in New York. People who make history are often unaware they are doing so. They don’t always preserve the objects and documents that could make those momentous events come alive for future generations.

That’s where a small but dedicated band of Los Angeles archivists comes in. They rescue the things that make up our collective history: a Remington typewriter owned by the Depression-era pioneer of Spanish-language radio, posters and sheet music from the jazz glory days of Central Avenue, the photographs taken outside the Black Cat on the night of Feb. 11, 1967.

On Oct. 17, the people who collect and catalog these artifacts of modern Los Angeles will gather for a kind of open house, the fourth annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar at USC’s Davidson Conference Center.

“It’s a first attempt at building history,” Chon Noriega told me, describing his work as director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, one of the 70 institutions contributing exhibits to the Archives Bazaar. “Three hundred years from now when somebody comes to this university and wants to write about what happened in Los Angeles, there will be something for them to see.”

Los Angeles is among the youngest of the world’s great cities. Rome has a couple of millenniums of history; New York, four centuries. As late as 1880, Los Angeles was still a little country burg of 11,000 people. In a dozen decades it became a diverse metropolis, home to utopian dreamers and ambitious capitalists, to groundbreaking artists and refugees from poverty and discrimination.

Our city might look beat up and tired these days. But we still enjoy many of the fruits of the glorious, good fights of the 20th century, when L.A. became a cosmopolitan crossroads with an ample middle class. In the last decades of that century, people lived more freely here than almost anywhere else.

The raw material of that remarkable narrative is gathered in places such as the Culver City Historical Society, the Autry National Center for the American West, the Chinese American Museum and the Mayme Clayton Library and Museum, an archive built by a local librarian with a passion for black history.

All those institutions will be represented at the Archives Bazaar.

I’m writing these words today as a kind of thank-you note to the professionals and amateurs who’ve built those archives. Over the years, I’ve spent many hours perusing their collections. I’ve learned that there’s a certain power and knowledge that comes from spending time with history in its rawest, most unprocessed form.

Michael Palmer of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives knows that power too. A few years back, he found the photographs of the Black Cat protest in a box of materials donated to the archives. He doesn’t even know who shot the images. For historians of gay culture in Los Angeles, it was like finding a Holy Grail. And it left Palmer and fellow archivist Loni Shibuyama hungry for more.

So if you know someone who was at the protest and might have materials related to the police raid that New Year’s Eve and the demonstrations that followed (an arrest report, maybe, or some personal correspondence), please give the ONE archives a call.

“Basically, we’d get them in a room and beg and plead until they gave us the originals,” Palmer said. In exchange, the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives would offer the closest thing on Earth to immortality. They would promise to protect those precious documents and objects so that they could live on for centuries.

Noriega at UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center can also promise the controlled humidity and temperature and careful handling of a professional archive. The center’s collections are stored, along with many others, in a vast facility underneath the UCLA campus. “They’re safe,” Noriega said of the materials. And they’re all available to researchers.

Noriega spends a lot of time thinking about how the present will look to the future. “You ask yourself, ‘What is going to be useful to historians trying to reconstruct this period?’ ”

The 20th century saw a boom in Latino arts in L.A., so Noriega has reached out to artists like Judy Baca, who has donated papers, along with the painter and performance artist Gronk. “He gave us all of his papers, notebooks, diaries, sketchbooks, even napkins he’s drawn on,” Noriega said.

I thought I knew a lot about the history of Latino Los Angeles. But I’d never heard about two other men who donated their papers and mementos to the UCLA center.

Pedro Gonzalez was a one-time soldier in Pancho Villa’s army who later migrated to California, where he started the first Spanish-language radio program in Los Angeles. In the 1930s, he broadcast denunciations of the immigration raids on Latino neighborhoods, and he was later arrested and deported. His typewriter survived his years of exile and is now in the center’s possession.

Dionicio Morales organized protests against segregation

in Southern California theaters. His struggle began the night in 1940 when he was told to sit in “the Mexican section” of a Moorpark movie house during the opening night of “Gone With the Wind.” He refused.

“I was hustled out of the theater and my 25 cents was refunded,” Morales wrote. Later he organized a successful campaign to force an end to the practice of segregating seating.

Of course, the histories of protest, art and ambition are still being written in Los Angeles. People are marching, imagining and striving here as much as ever.

If you’re one of them, you might want to think twice before throwing out those old letters and pamphlets — and consider instead putting the items in safe hands. In the distant future, a lover of early 21st century Los Angeles history may thank you for it.


Autry Western History Workshop returns Tuesday, October 13

The Autry Western History Workshop returns for another year on Tuesday, October 13.  The presenter will be James Snead from George Mason University, and he will present his paper, “‘That indefinable Exhilaration’: Economy, Ambition, and Relic Hunting in the Territorial Southwest.”

The workshop will begins at 7PM, with dinner available at 6:30 for those who reserve a place by Friday, October 9.  To make a reservation, or to obtain a copy of Prof. Snead’s paper, email Belinda Nakasato-Suarez at bnakasato@autrynationalcenter.org.

Opens at the Huntington Oct. 24: Central Avenue and Beyond: The Harlem Renaissance in Los Angeles

A new exhibition focusing on the extraordinary artistic, cultural, and intellectual expressions and accomplishments of African Americans in Los Angeles will open at the Huntington Oct. 24, 2009.  Titled, “Central Avenue and Beyond: The Harlem Renaissance in Los Angeles,” the exhibition will include material from both The Huntington and the Mayme A. Clayton Library, a new cultural and education institution founded by Avery Clayton to house and make available his mother’s extraordinary collection of African Americana gathered during her 40-year career as a librarian in Los Angeles.  The show will continue until Jan. 4, 2010.

For more information, click here.

California Historian, Louise Nelson Dyble, on the Golden Gate Bridge and TJ Kent: Oct 14th in Berkeley; Oct. 16 in Oakland

Paying the Toll

Past CSA President, Louise Nelson Dyble will be appearing at University Press Books in Berkeley to present on her recent book, Paying the Toll: Local Power, Regional Politics, and the Golden Gate Bridge. She will also be presenting on seminal UC Berkeley and City of Berkeley planner, TJ Kent, at the Planning History Conference that weekend. See the University Press Books event here. See the SACRPH, Planning History Conference, program here.

The announcement from University Press Books:

Louise Nelson Dyble, author of

Paying the Toll: Local Power, Regional Politics, and the Golden Gate Bridge

Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 5:30-7:00

The impact of the Golden Gate Bridge on the San Francisco Bay Area has been much more than visual—toll revenue has allowed the small group of appointees in charge of the structure to build a minor political empire, shaping the regional landscape and economy in the process.  Even though the agency responsible for the bridge was extremely unpopular and its officials were notorious for crooked dealings and mismanagement by the 1960s, they were able to defend its autonomy by actively opposing oversight, fighting investigations, and spurning reform.  Ultimately, they insured its survival beyond the retirement of construction bonds by expanding operations to include mass transportation—a guaranteed money-loser and perpetual reason to collect tolls. Paying the Toll traces the development and the influence of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District from its creation in the 1920s through its metamorphosis into a regional transportation authority in the 1970s.  Drawing upon previously unavailable sources, it provides an inside view of the high-stakes bureaucratic power politics carried out in the shadow of the bridge.

Louise Nelson Dyble is Assistant Professor of History at Michigan Technological University.

Society for American City and Regional Planning History, Oakland Conference Oct. 15-18


To All Urban Historians, Planners, Activists, and Academics in the Bay Area and Beyond:

The conference organizers are very pleased to announce the upcoming 13th National Conference on Planning History, taking place in Oakland, California October 15-18, 2009.  The event is sponsored by the Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH).  The preliminary program and conference registration forms, as well as travel and hotel information, are available on the conference website:http://www.barnard.edu/urban/sacrph09.  Interest in the meeting has been remarkable, with the number of paper and panel proposals up 20-25% over all previous SACRPH meetings.

The conference location, the Oakland Marriott City Center, is accessible by BART (Oakland City Center / 12th Street Station) and is convenient to the 880 and 980 Freeways.

Local Highlights: While the conference is international in scope, a number of events focus on the Bay Area itself. These include:
– A Thursday pre-conference tour entitled “Democracy on the Ground in West Oakland: Immigrants, Migrants, and the Development of an African-American Community”;
– A Thursday night address by Richard Walker of the University of California on “West Oakland and the Bay Area Region”;
–  A Friday morning plenary roundtable on regional equity, focusing on the East Bay;
– A Friday lunch plenary featuring pioneering urban planners of the Bay Area;
– Sunday morning tours of Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Marin;
– Papers and sessions throughout the conference on local and regional topics such as urban renewal in San Francisco; Chinatowns in San Francisco and Oakland; gay neighborhoods and the geography of sexuality in San Francisco; the 1906 earthquake and its aftermath; race and housing in Fremont and Richmond; and many, many more.


All paper sessions will take place between 8:30 am on Friday, October 16, and 6:30 pm on Saturday, October 17.  The conference schedule and full registration includes receptions Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, breakfast Friday and Saturday, and lunch Friday and Saturday.  In addition to the paper sessions and round tables, we’d like to draw your attention to two New Media sessions, an undergraduate and Master’s student poster session, a proposal-writing workshop and reception for graduate students, and the screening of a documentary film-in-progress allowing participants to provide feedback to the director.  The book exhibit, open on Friday and Saturday, has a record number of participating presses.

The Thursday and Sunday events (Thursday’s Oakland symposium, and the Sunday tours) require separate registration, as explained in more detail on the website.  The Thursday tour of West Oakland promises a fascinating look at the multifaceted history of a neighborhood.  The four Sunday tours will take advantage of the rich variety of the Bay Area:  Historical Development and Ethnic Change in Oakland; Berkeley Architectural Tour; Urban Renewal in San Francisco; and finally, North of the Golden Gate: Growth Control, Open Space, and Alternative Agriculture on the Urban Fringe.


We have worked closely with the Northern California chapter of the American Planning Association to ensure that the conference will bring together scholars and practitioners.  AICP members can earn Certificate Maintenance (CM) credits for many activities at the SACRPH Conference. More information about AICP’s CM program can be found at www.planning.org/cm.


Questions about the conference?  Please e-mail SACRPH@history.rutgers.edu.


Student volunteers are needed both before the conference (to help with local arrangements) and during the conference (to staff the registration desk and provide AV support).  Each three-hour shift will qualify a volunteer for one free day of conference registration.  This is a great opportunity to meet with the leading scholars and practitioners in the fields of urban planning, urban history, architectural and landscape planning and history, urban design and preservation.  Please contact Stephanie Dyer atstephanie.dyer@sonoma.edu or Asha Weinstein Agrawal at asha.weinstein.agrawal@sjsu.edu for details.

We look forward to seeing you in Oakland.

With best wishes,

Robin F. Bachin, SACRPH President
Alison Isenberg, SACRPH President-Elect and Program Committee Co-Chair
Owen Gutfreund, Program Committee Co-Chair
Jim Buckley, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
Gail Sansbury, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
Stephanie Dyer, Local Arrangements Co-Chair

More on SACRPH: SACRPH is an interdisciplinary organization dedicated to promoting scholarship on the history of planning cities and metropolitan regions.  Its members come from a range of professions and areas of interest, and include architects, planners, historians, environmentalists, landscape designers, public policy makers, preservationists, community organizers, students and scholars from across the country and around the world.  SACRPH publishes a quarterly journal, The Journal of Planning History (http://jph.sagepub.com/), hosts this biennial conference, and sponsors awards for research and publication in the field of planning history.  For further information please consult http://www.dcp.ufl.edu/sacrph.