Lost Worlds of the San Francisco Bay Area

Winner, Northern California Book Award (General Nonfiction)

In this coffee table book of luminous essays accompanied by an array of images, award-winning writer Sylvia Linsteadt brings to life the many microcosms that once flourished in the San Francisco Bay Area: from the farthest reach of the Russian Empire at Fort Ross, to acres upon acres of apricot blossoms in what is now known as Silicon Valley, to the Coney Island of the West on the Alameda shoreline, to San Francisco’s bohemian Barbary Coast. For every “lost world,” Linsteadt reconstructs the setting in lyrical prose supported by extensive research into each epoch. Vintage photographs, maps, and paintings combined with neo-Victorian design accentuate the words, immersing us fully in the nuances of each reality, whether mining quicksilver at New Almaden or shopping underneath the rotunda of the palatial Emporium. A book both dazzlingly beautiful and sensitive to the complexities of portraying bygone eras, Lost Worlds of the San Francisco Bay Area celebrates the ephemeral and, in reminding us of the many moments of humanity threaded through the past, makes our understanding of the present moment that much more rooted.


“Sylvia Linsteadt writes with the excitement of an alchemist who has fallen in love with a forgotten world and distilled it back into being. Lost Worlds of the San Francisco Bay Area is more than a history, it is an experience, poignant and revelatory.”—Terry Tempest Williams, author of The Hour of Land


“A fabulous gathering of essays.”—Diane Donovan, Donovan's Literary Services

About the Author

Sylvia LinsteadtSylvia Linsteadt followed coyote tracks all the way back to her native Bay Area after attending Brown University, where she studied literary arts. Her books include Tatterdemalion (Unbound, forthcoming) and Wonderments of the East Bay (Heyday, 2014). Her work—both fiction and nonfiction—explores the realms of deep ecology, history, and myth. She runs two stories-by-mail projects, The Gray Fox Epistles and The Leveret Letters, and in 2014 her manuscript The Grey Fox Epistles received the James D. Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation. Her work has been published in New California Writing 2013, The Dark Mountain Project, and News from Native California. Learn more at www.sylvialinsteadt.com.