The Golden Gate, Vikram Seth, 1986
This brilliant early novel by the author of A Suitable Boy is written as a narrative poem about five contemporary San Francisco residents.
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett, 1930
Tough but tender Sam Spade gumshoes his way across the city, helping a beautiful woman get her manicured paws on a golden bird.
Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin, 1978
Before Sex and the City, there were these tales of San Francisco set in a Russian Hill apartment house—vibrant, gay, sentimental and funny.
San Francisco Almanac: Everything You Want to Know about the City, Gladys Hansen, 1995
An indispensable reference with inside info on everything from the 1906 earthquake to cable cars to famous locals.
The World of Herb Caen: San Francisco 1938–1997, Barnaby Conrad, 1999
The newsprint voice of San Francisco for over half the 20th century, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Caen is the consummate crusty insider driven by an insatiable curiosity for his home town.
Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture, James Brook, Chris Carlsson, and Nancy J. Peters, eds., 1998
A sweeping, diverse essay collection that includes the perspectives of historians, writers, architects, geographers and artists.
Milk, Gus Van Sant, 2008
Sean Penn delivers an Oscar-winning performance as the first publicly gay politician to be elected in California.
Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock, 1958 — Acrophobic detective James Stewart becomes obsessed with platinum blond Kim Novak on the hilly San Francisco streets in a Hitchcock classic.
Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood, 1989
A killer punk, Scorpio, makes the day of Eastwood’s detective all across the city on the hill in a thinly veiled version of the famed Zodiac murders.
The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese, 1978
Directed by Marty in the fertile period between Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, the intimate, festive film documents The Band’s farewell concert on Thanksgiving 1976 at San Francisco’s Winterland.
Harold and Maude, Hal Ashby, 1971
Rarely has a Hollywood movie combined whimsy and suicide with more grace than this cult comedy shot on location in the Bay Area about a morbid youth (Bud Cort) infatuated with a free-spirited septuagenarian (Ruth Gordon).