A People's History of SFO: The Making of the Bay Area and an Airport (Paperback)

A People's History of SFO: The Making of the Bay Area and an Airport By Eric Porter Cover Image

A People's History of SFO: The Making of the Bay Area and an Airport (Paperback)


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An illuminating profile of the San Francisco Bay Area, and its regional and global influence, as seen from the focal point of San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

A People's History of SFO uses the history of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to tell a multifaceted story of development, encounter, and power in the surrounding region from the eighteenth century to the present. In lively, engaging stories, Eric Porter reveals SFO's unique role in the San Francisco Bay Area's growth as a globally connected hub of commerce, technology innovation, and political, economic, and social influence.

Starting with the very land SFO was built on, A People's History of SFO sees the airport as a microcosm of the forces at work in the Bay Area—from its colonial history and early role in trade, mining, and agriculture to the economic growth, social sanctuary, and environmental transformations of the twentieth century. In ways both material and symbolic, small human acts have overlapped with evolving systems of power to create this bustling metropolis. A People's History of SFO ends by addressing the climate crisis, as sea levels rise and threaten SFO itself on the edge of San Francisco Bay.
Eric Porter is Professor of History, History of Consciousness, and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
"Inside the airport, you can’t literally see the past. Still, you might be able to commune with it when you read Eric Porter’s new lively book."
— San Francisco Examiner

"Starting his history with the indigenous peoples and concluding with the airport’s impact on the environment in the twenty-first century Bay Area, Porter offers a history of the San Francisco airport deeply rooted in place and the iterative history of the Bay Area and its largest air transportation facility."
— Pacific Historical Review

"This innovative, engaging book illuminates the extent to which a major urban airport can inform a spectrum of topics, in this case business promotion, labor relations, race relations, and environmental challenges. . . . The text offers a wealth of material on how important a large airport can be beyond serving as just a transportation hub."

"A People’s History of SFO recounts a series of stories on how San Francisco’s airport was part and parcel of a twentieth-century culture in the Bay Area that promulgated systemic racism, fostered homophobic policies, distributed economic and artistic resources unequally, and adopted environmental remediation only when forced."
— California History