SF State News {University Communications}

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Discover San Francisco's labor landmarks

March 4, 2009 -- A new book provides an eye-opening tour of San Francisco's lively labor history. "The San Francisco Labor Landmarks Guide Book" explains the history behind 88 sites, taking in such locations as the former Cadillac dealership-turned movie theater on Van Ness Avenue, Diego Rivera's Pan American Unity mural and blue collar cafes such as Red's Java House.

The book jacket for 'The San Francisco Labor Landmarks Guide Book,' which shows a 1948 Labor Day Parade down Market Street.

Published by the Labor Archives and Research Center at SF State, the book imbues new meaning into tourist attractions. "We've appropriated known landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge for example, and used them to remind people of the city's labor history," said Catherine Powell, director of the Labor Archives and Research Center. "We hope that the book will help people look at the city through different eyes, appreciating how things came to be and who did the work."

What began as a tri-fold map in 1987 has evolved into a guidebook that draws on the Labor Archives' extensive primary source materials. In addition to the register of 88 sites, the book contains five self-guided walking tours, a glossary and biographies of key figures in the Bay Area's labor movement.

"The book came out of the sharp recognition of the need to document historic landmarks and public artwork, many of which are at risk due to the process of urban transition," Powell said. The book's mission mirrors that of the Labor Archives and Research Center, which was jointly founded by the University, local labor leaders and historians to preserve the city's labor history and promote it to the public. Many unions have made the Labor Archives the official repository for their historical records. The collection is open to the campus community and the public.

"The San Francisco Labor Landmarks Guide Book" can be purchased from the Labor Archives and Research Center. Copies are also available at Modern Times Bookstore, Green Apple Books and Bird and Beckett Books and Records.

More information about the Labor Archives and Research Center can be found at:

-- Elaine Bible


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