Tales of the City
I selected Tales of the City to launch my Traveling Book Club. I wanted my friends from LA to see what I had learned about San Francisco - much of it through Maupin’s main character - Mary Ann Singleton, a straight-laced, naive, young woman who arrived in San Francisco and found an apartment at 28 Barbary Lane. It came with a set of wildly divergent characters - the pot-smoking landlord named Anna Madrigal, the gay friend Michael Tolliver, the hippy bisexual friend Mona Ramsey, Mary Ann’s boss, Edgar Halcyon, and his high society daughter DeDe Halcyon Beauchamp. Each of their stories and Mary Ann’s adventures with them bring San Francisco to life.
When Armistead Maupin wrote Tales of the City he unwittingly wrote an incredible guidebook to the city of San Francisco. Maupin’s characters mingle with just about every tourist attraction you would want to visit. You'll start at Fisherman’s Wharf and move from neighborhood to neighborhood hitting parks, piers, towers, and the city's time-tested bars and restaurants. But you'll also check out some off the beaten path stops like a church where one character found solace and a cliff where another character, I won’t say which one – vanished.
Armistead Maupin came to San Francisco in 1971 to work for the San Francisco Bureau of the Associated Press. He’s said he was so inspired by the freedom and tolerance – he came out as a gay man. Tales of the City began as serial in a newspaper – the Pacific Sun – and then the San Francisco Chronicle after the Sun folded. It then became a book, a series of books, a BBC miniseries and even a musical which was wildly popular in the summer of 2011.
There's a lot here - but it’s not my fault. Armistead Maupin location dropped like crazy in Tales of the City. It’s a great thing, really, because it creates an opportunity to see San Francisco in the context of Tales of the City, which is infinitely better than, I think, than seeing it with no context at all. I put the neighborhoods in order so you can bop from one to the next in a line. Seriously. It’s a trip!
Tales of the City is practically a San Francisco dining amd drinking directory. The main characters are constantly popping in and out of bars and restaurants. I’ve tracked down the ones that are still around and I have listed below – in Dead Ends – the restaurants you won’t find anymore in the city.
Armistead Maupin drops the names of three San Francisco hotels in Tales of the City and unbelievably all three are still in business. Even better, the hotels range from budget to high brow, so there is something for everyone.