San Francisco history: A politically charged coloring book illustrating the dangers of high-rise buildings in SF

It was kind of an art project, kind of a protest, from a time when citizens were about to vote on whether or not to allow more high-rises to be built. Gravel & Gold today published some pictures and an explanation by the great Tom Wolfe:

This coloring book is the work of 16 artists, and I like what they’ve done. (I haven’t written home about it, you understand, but I like it.) But I also like it for what it illustrates about the problems of social protest graphics. A high percentage of the entries for the show fell in that category, and almost all of them show the artists’ natural instincts (Me!) working at cross purposes with the cause he is lending his talent to. This coloring book was created in support of Alvin Duskin’s campaign to stop the spread of high-rise building in San Francisco (“ecology”). . . But most of the artists were obviously far more intrigued by the graphic possibilities of skyscrapers and Heartless Tycoons than of low-rise buildings and the common man. I’m sure that all children who actually used this hook learned to love skyscrapers and were filled with the ambition to build one, or at least go see a few.

Read on for more analysis from Wolfe and of more pictures.

18 Responses to “San Francisco history: A politically charged coloring book illustrating the dangers of high-rise buildings in SF”

  1. An epic piece of bullshit; I remember the tone of it very well. A couple of years after the ’69 quake, but a generation before the ’89 quake. Back when we thought that being some kind of quaint, folksy, almost suburban version of New York was way better than being a real city. (We’re still dealing with our delusions about that, obviously.)

  2. AttF says:

    yeah, because the Financial District adds so much to the City….good thing they eliminated that pesky Manilatown in the process

  3. J says:

    Hmm….Civil Engineers vs. hippie artists designing a coloring book…
    The rational response would be a rebuttal, possibly peer reviewed, highlighting the structural weaknesses of such buildings and the vulnerabilities of such buildings due to earthquakes.
    But then again any idiot can take a 16 pack of crayolas to a coloring book vs. understanding the vulnerabilities of building and the underlying geological facts of the area.
    That being said, just make a fucking skyline of SF where you color in the new “skyscrapers” to highlight your point that everything will alter the landscape severely…
    From Peter Thiel’s floating libertarian islands of S&M and intelligent design/ capitalism to Alvin Duskin’s low density high rent fantasyland to Jim Jones’ Flavor Aid land of fun to Occupy’s “swear to god it doesn’t smell like feces and hasn’t turned into a homeless tent city even though our leaders and Union supporters have abandoned us at dark since mid-November”…this city is filled with fucktards trying to act like they know how to approach development.
    Therefore you must support my idea of capsule hotels for some, shipping container estates for others. Miniature American flags for all or abortions for some at the landlords discretion.
    Kang 2012.

  4. kylem says:

    Low rise buildings for the common man? What’s so common man about tons of cookie cutter yuppie homes that can only fit a single family? They managed to turn the entire west half of SF into the suburbs.

  5. Sweet T says:

    I guess we’re supposed to be “progressive” about everything except urban planning.

  6. No fish today says:

    None of this makes any sense. Coloring books, skyscrapers, social protest? What???

  7. ken says:

    Thanks for the article. For info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues, please see http://​www.Libertarian-Internation​ , the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization

  8. Anon says:

    The problem isn’t buildings falling down in earthquakes. It’s fire. The city’s old-ass water infrastructure is not capable of pumping water up to the top floors of skyscrapers.

    See you in hell, one percenters!

    • AttF says:

      they make water pumps for that. SFFD makes you do a pressure test prior to installing sprinklers to see if your system has enough pressure. If not, they install a pump to make up the difference. Of course, calcs aren’t foolproof and there are plenty of examples of engineering mistakes out there.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Anon: Actually, the city has very, very good emergency water infrastructure. Arguably the best in the world, actually, due to our network of reservoirs and cisterns installed after the 1906 earthquake/fire. That being said, the system does need significant maintenance and repair.

      • Anon says:

        Exactly: “That being said, the system does need significant maintenance and repair.” When do you think that repair is going to happen? The city’s budget it fucked and “invisible” problems like this tend to fester until there’s a disaster.

  9. Roughly contemporary with the Cunt Coloring Book, and also fits in nicely with The Big Coloring Book of Vaginas.