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The Country in the City

The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area

by Richard A. Walker

Publication Year: 2007

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the world's most beautiful cities. Despite a population of 7 million people, it is more greensward than asphalt jungle, more open space than hardscape. A vast quilt of countryside is tucked into the folds of the metropolis, stitched from fields, farms and woodlands, mines, creeks, and wetlands. In The Country in the City, Richard Walker tells the story of how the jigsaw geography of this greenbelt has been set into place.

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. vi-vii

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Foreword: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

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pp. ix-xiii

In 1969, having just been forced to step down as executive director of the Sierra Club after a dispute with the club’s board about financial management, the colorful, larger-than-life David Brower founded a new organization called Friends of the Earth that soon became a worldwide leader in environmental politics. As the motto for this new group, ...

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pp. xv-xix

For me, this book is an attempt to go home again. As a child of the Bay Area, I grew up with the Santa Cruz Mountains as a backdrop, the open foothills behind Stanford as a playground. The orchards of Santa Clara Valley were still in bloom, the redwoods of Big Basin and Memorial Park beckoned, and the beaches of Pescadero, San Gregorio, and ...


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pp. xxi-xxiii

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Introduction - Saving Graces

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pp. 3-18

The San Francisco Bay Area is more greensward than asphalt jungle, more open space than hardscape. Like the universe, it is mostly empty space. But what looks empty at first glance is not; it is a different kind of matter than the cityscape of bright lights and buildings. It is filled with a jumble of fields, woods, farms, and grasslands, of mines,marinas, ...

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1. Out of the Woods - Stirrings of Conservation

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pp. 19-34

The opening chapter in the greening of the Bay Area takes place at the end of a half century of unadulterated exploitation of nature. The mining era’s toll on California is one of the greatest tales of despoilation in the annals of modern environmental history, one in which entire forests were leveled, whole mountains picked up and dumped in the valleys, ...

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2. Fields of Gold - Resources at Close Quarters

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pp. 35-57

City and country are necessarily interwoven. Urban demand calls forth the products of the countryside. Cities are encircled by necklaces of farms, reservoirs, and quarries supplying food, water, and building materials. San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose’s immediate hinterlands have lain within the Bay Area, which has been intensely mined for ...

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3. Moving Outdoors - Parks for the People

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pp. 58-81

The reaction against the slaughter of the ancient trees and mountains had changed the public view of them and established the principle of protecting nature within the boundaries of parks. These protected places were still few and far between during the first two decades of the twentieth century: Big Basin, Muir Woods, Yosemite, and Sequoia. If ...

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4. The Upper West Side - Suburbia and Conservation

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pp. 82-109

The open vistas across the bay and the invigorating views from the encircling hills make San Francisco a self-conscious city, prone to a good deal of preening as well as self-preservation. This happy sense of being Nature’s Children has been especially pronounced in the upperclass suburbs along the west side of the bay, in the green redoubts of Marin, ...

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5. The Green and the Blue - Saving the Bay and the Coast

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pp. 110-129

San Francisco Bay is the defining feature of the metropolis. It saves the Bay Area from being an endless urban plain like Los Angeles. The bay is not merely an arm of the Pacific, but one of the world’s great estuaries, a place of encounter between the sea and freshwater. However, this centerpiece of the metropolis has been treated in anything but a benign ...

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6. Encounters with the Arch-Modern - Regional Planning and Growth Control

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pp. 130-158

The Bay Area uprising for parks, open space, and bay protection has been a confrontation with the forces of urbanization, at times a mortal combat against the paved and the dammed. This has all too frequently been defensive, piecemeal actions by local groups feeling the hot breath of the bulldozers on their neck of the woods. In the efforts to ...

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7. Fasten your Greenbelt - Triumph and Trust Funds

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pp. 159-181

In the last quarter of the twentieth century, the Bay Area grew at breakneck speed, propelled by the microelectronic revolution taking place in Silicon Valley. Population mounted ever higher, passing five million by 1980, six million by 1990, and nearly seven million by 2000. Whole new rings and flares of settlement were added to the metropolis as it spilled over ...

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8. Sour Grapes - The Fight for the Wine Country

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pp. 182-204

The North Bay—Napa and Sonoma counties—is the least urbanized, most rural portion of the Bay Area. Some definitions of the metropolitan area leave out the northern tier of counties altogether. Many people in the North Bay region still consider themselves a world apart. Nevertheless, the North Bay is an integral part of the Bay Area, part of the countryside ...

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9. Toxic Landscapes - Beyond Open Space

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pp. 205-228

Large cities foul their own nest as they grow, putting the health of their citizens in jeopardy. The density of people, industry, and transportation puts immense pressure on the capacity of air, water, and land to absorb waste. By the end of the nineteenth century, American cities were beginning to grapple with the massive works necessary to collect wastewater ...

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10. Green Justice - Reclaiming the Inner City

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pp. 229-248

The biggest environmental news of the 1990s was the rise of the environmental justice movement, which has its roots in popular uprisings over toxic hazards that endanger the lives and health of working-class communities. But it went even farther by joining together concerns about toxic wastes and public health with those over racism and ...

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Conclusion - City and Country Reconciled?

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pp. 249-254

Looking over the Bay Area, one sees a remarkable amount of open space—green, blue, and golden—on every side. Environmental protection is well integrated into the fabric of urban development through the institutionalization of land planning and preservation by governments, nonprofit organizations, and the law. It is, moreover, a part of ...


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pp. 255-266


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pp. 267-318


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pp. 319-354


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pp. 355-378

E-ISBN-13: 9780295989730
E-ISBN-10: 0295989734
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295988153
Print-ISBN-10: 0295988150

Publication Year: 2007