Infinite City

A San Francisco Atlas

Hardcover, 166 pages

English language

Published Nov. 7, 2010 by University of California Press.


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5 stars (2 reviews)

What makes a place? Infinite City, Rebecca Solnit’s brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, searches out the answer by examining the many layers of meaning in one place, the San Francisco Bay Area. Aided by artists, writers, cartographers, and twenty-two gorgeous color maps, each of which illuminates the city and its surroundings as experienced by different inhabitants, Solnit takes us on a tour that will forever change the way we think about place. She explores the area thematically—connecting, for example, Eadweard Muybridge’s foundation of motion-picture technology with Alfred Hitchcock’s filming of Vertigo. Across an urban grid of just seven by seven miles, she finds seemingly unlimited landmarks and treasures—butterfly habitats, queer sites, murders, World War II shipyards, blues clubs, Zen Buddhist centers. She roams the political terrain, both progressive and conservative, and details the cultural geographies of the Mission District, the culture wars of the Fillmore, the South of Market …

1 edition

Review of 'Infinite City' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is an atlas in the same way One Hundred Years of Solitude is a story about a village. Which is to say it covers so much history, in so many crazy ways, and is so unlike any other story or map you’ve ever seen, that it becomes very hard to summarize. Not for everyone, and not a good starting place to learn about the city. But nevertheless something I love and think is worth flipping through for anyone trying to find the stories that can bring a city to life.

avatar for erinmalone

rated it

4 stars


  • San Francisco