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This John King -- there are many! -- is the author of "Portal: San Francisco's Ferry Building and the Reinvention of American Cities," published by W.W. Norton on Nov. 7, 2023. I'm flattered to have received positive reviews in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and "Portal" has spent more than a dozen weeks on the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association's nonfiction bestseller list.


I'm also the San Francisco Chronicle's Urban Design Critic, a post I created in 2001 with a nod to the great Allan Temko, one of many Chronicle scribes who sparked my love of newspapers when I was growing up in the East Bay.

The gig lets me watch how the Bay Area landscape has evolved in this too-tumultuous century, and to convey how our surroundings reflect larger histories and cultures. That's the spark for my book on the Ferry Building, and why it ranges beyond architecture into the realm of vintage postcards, "Somebody Feed Phil" and the (literal) rise and fall of elevated freeways.


In terms of career nods, there are several I'm particularly proud of: I'm an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the first recipient of the Gene Burd Urban Journalism Award from the Urban Communication Foundation, an honor since shared with Pulitzer Prize-winners Inga Saffron, Blair Kamin and Paul Goldberger. I've been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism myself, twice, and was a Mellon Fellow in Urban Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington D.C.

On occasion I write for such publications as Architectural Record and Landscape Architecture Magazine, and authored two "Cityscapes" books (photography, too!) published by Heyday in 2011 and 2015. As for my masters degree in journalism from Indiana University, my thesis topic was none other than the work of legendary San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen!