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Industrial nightlife


The clientele pose at the Cuckoos Nest, a bar in San Francisco, undated. Courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library.

In San Francisco, I get into a conversation with a cab driver about the old Port, the once bustling industrial waterfront that disappeared after the 1960s, when containerization forced the whole industry across the bay to Oakland. Back then, my cab driver reminisces, the city had a real nightlife: the bars and diners stayed open all night, serving the dockworkers who unloaded ships around the clock. This reminded me of my favorite map in Rebecca Solnit’s amazing Infinite City, showing the “The Lost Industrial City of 1960 and the Remnant 6 AM Bars.” Nothing like that exists anymore, my cab driver says. Now it’s sports bars, and parasites. “Bankers, brokers, and lawyers,” he says. “Which are you?”