Heather M. David’s remarkable new book, Mid-Century By The Bay, is a wonderful journey through the cultural and physical landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area circa 1950-1970. David’s first book, the 151 page effort is chock full of unique Bay Area architecture, attractions, and culture. She does a wonderful job of capturing a period of post war optimism when anything seemed possible and San Francisco and the surrounding area was set to full throttle, full speed ahead.
Mid-Century by the Bay spends many of its pages especially focusing on and celebrating the beautiful Googie architecture that was so prevalent in the 50s and 60s — homes by Branden, Bohannon, Eichler, Kaiser and Mackay, Bay Area schools and churches, shopping centers, new modern offices, distribution centers and banks. David, a Bay Area native, has compiled some wonderful photography from our past showcasing so many of these great structures that so vividly expressed the decades. Some of these structures persist today, even while so many have disappeared and are no longer with us.
More than just architecture though, David’s book is an impressive collection of ephemera that really digs into the culture of the time. Brightly colored matchbooks from bowling alleys that once were so common, postcards, maps, souvenirs, her book is full of these momentos that so strongly invoke nostalgia for a different day.
The book covers so many interesting and unique locations: the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa’s Village, Tahoe, wine country, the wonderful neon signs of the Bay Area, Frontier Village, Storyland, Playland by the Beach — one after another the book provides both photos and write ups on so many wonderful bygone places.
In addition to this book, David also maintains a flickr account with many remarkable mid-century images here. You can also find her site SV Modern (celebrating Silicon Valley’s Mid-Century Past) here.
David’s book is $40 and can be purchased here. If you’d like to see a sampler of some of the pages inside the book, she has one up on her Flickrstream here. Her book is a labor of love independently produced and represents the best of what is possible with self-publishing these days. If you are a fan of the Bay Area’s history, or a student of the 50s and 60s more generally speaking, you won’t want to miss this wonderful record. Buying a copy of this great publication for you or as a gift for an interested friend is a great way to help support this sort of independent research and publication.