Remember When

‘Poor Richard’s Guide’ provided visitors a snapshot of places to go in S.F.

By October 14, 2019 No Comments
The first edition of “Poor Richard’s Guide to Non-Tourist San Francisco” was published in 1958. (Images provided by author)

There have been a lot of tourist guidebooks issued to assist visitors to San Francisco over the decades that reflect the city’s various eras.

One era that didn’t get a lot of mainstream tourist scrutiny was the Beat Generation, but apparently it also attracted visitors to the city.

The first edition of “Poor Richard’s Guide to Non-Tourist San Francisco” was published in 1958 — the same year that San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen coined the term “beatnik” — and the 75-cent, 48-page pocket-sized booklet went into its sixth printing (shown in picture above) in 1960.

“For visitor or resident, a guide to the real city — quaint restaurants, Bohemia, jolly beer joints, jazz, things cultural,” the text on the cover reads. The back cover has a map of 21 locations in the area of Broadway, although City Lights Booksellers is not among them. Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who founded the bookstore in 1953, is mentioned.

The centerfold from the 1960 edition of “Poor Richard’s Guide to Non-Tourist San Francisco.”

The centerfold of the booklet is a non-tourist map of San Francisco.

A few other tidbits:

“Read a book, look in a magazine, open a newspaper or pick up a pamphlet — Fisherman’s Wharf, Top of the Mark, the Cliff House and the rest …

“But some are not interested in this superficial, costly, name San Francisco.

“They’ve heard exciting reports about non-tourist San Francisco. Smoky dives where the ‘beat generation’ hangs out. Delightful, inexpensive little foreign restaurants. Places where interesting people gather for their own enjoyment.”

The image the booklet paints of a forgotten time is appealing looking back and copies of “Poor Richard’s Guide” nowadays bring a nice asking price of $20 to $40 from online sellers.