They came in the tens of thousands, pushing baby carriages and packing roller skates. All in all, an estimated 200,000 pedestrians crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on May 27, 1937, its first day in business. The bridge was already a San Francisco landmark—a flaming, burnt-orange beacon conceived a decade earlier by Leon Moisseiff, who had engineered the Manhattan Bridge. It was a graceful design, but suspension bridges still weren’t entirely safe—the engineer’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge would fail spectacularly only a few months after it opened in 1940.
The Golden Gate also has a dark side. To afford a view of the city, the bridge has a low barrier that is easy to scale. (In “Jumpers,” the New Yorker’s Tad Friend meditates on the bridge’s reputation for death—for the families and friends of those who succeed in their jumps, it’s an indelible monument to their loved ones’ pain.) This month, city workers will finally begin the installation of a new barrier, a grey netting that will blend into the water without obscuring the view. Officials hope it will finally reduce suicide rates on the deadly bridge.
As the president sucks up the oxygen from the media atmosphere, it’s easy to forget how important local journalism is right now. The regional press—the holy trinity of newspapers, alt-weeklies, and city magazines—is where we can find true stories of friends and neighbors impacted by immigration raids, fights over funding public education, and the frontline of relaxed environmental standards that will impact the water we drink and the air we breathe. We need to support their work. Read more…
Magazine nerds, here we go: A starter collection of behind-the-scenes stories from some of your most beloved magazines, including The New Yorker, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair and the New York Review of Books, plus now-defunct publications like Might, George, Sassy and Wigwag. Share your favorite behind-the-magazine stories with us on Twitter or Facebook: #longreads. Read more…
For our Longreads Member Pick, we’re thrilled to share the opening chapter of The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature, the book by Ben Tarnoff, published by The Penguin Press. Read more…
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s most recent history, The Bully Pulpit, chronicles the intertwined lives of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, often in excruciating detail, from Roosevelt’s struggles with the bosses of his Republican party to the fungal infections that plagued Taft’s groin. But the most illuminating aspect of Pulpit is the spotlight it shines on the muckraking journalism of the early 20th century, particularly as practiced by a monthly magazine called McClure’s. There, writers such as Ida Tarbell, Ray Baker, and Lincoln Steffens held the feet of the powerful to the fire. In one landmark issue, January 1903, articles by all three were featured, including the third installment of Tarbell’s 12-part exposé of Standard Oil and Baker’s counter-intuitive, sympathetic portrait of coal miners, whose dire circumstances had forced them to cross picket lines. Read more…
Kramer can almost make you smell and taste the stuff she’s picking: mint, asparagus, fennel, mushrooms. Plus, maybe my favorite lead sentence of the year: “I spent the summer foraging, like an early hominid with clothes.”
The disturbing investigation into an Army unit in Afghanistan that was killing civilians for sport.
I kind of didn’t want to like this piece, but Franzen’s assessment of “consumer technology products,” and our fraught relationships with them, feels right on.
As a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan, it was heartbreaking to read this chronicle of how the Giants’ greatest rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, have gone from one of the most respected organizations in sports to one of the most dysfunctional.
A fascinating investigation that suggests Dominique Strauss-Kahn was set up, perhaps even by people associated with French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Pretty much anything by Charles P. Pierce at Grantland, but especially his piece on the beginning of the end of NCAA sports and his unflinching essay on Jerry Sandusky and Penn State.
Share your own Top 5 Longreads of 2011, all through December. Just tag it #longreads on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook.
Jeremy Lybarger | Longreads | 4,160 words (17 minutes)
From the outside, it’s just another mobile home in a neighborhood of mobile homes on the northwest side of Fort Wayne, Indiana. There’s the same carport, the same wedge of grass out front, the same dreamy suburban soundtrack of wind chimes and air conditioners. Nothing suggests this particular home belongs to a 32-year-old woman whose encyclopedic knowledge of missing persons has earned her a cult following online. The FBI knows who she is. So do detectives and police departments across the country. Desperate families sometimes seek her out. Chances are that if you mention someone who has disappeared in America, Meaghan Good can tell you the circumstances from memory — the who, what, when, and where. The why is almost always a mystery.
A week after she turned 19, Good started the Charley Project, an ever-expanding online database that features the stories and photographs of people who’ve been missing in the United States for at least a year. She named the site after Charles Brewster Ross, a 4-year-old boy kidnapped in 1874 from the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. His body was never found, and his abduction prompted the first known ransom note in America. Like Charles Brewster Ross, the nearly 10,000 people profiled on Good’s site are cold cases. Many fit the cliché of having vanished without a trace, and if it weren’t for Meaghan Good, most of these cases would have faded into oblivion. Read more…
The median home price in California has reached $500,000 — more than double the cost nationally — and a new brand of housing crisis is here. It’s nearly impossible for anyone to afford a home in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or any surrounding suburbs. As today’s New York Times reports, this means people like Heather Lile, a nurse making $180,000 a year, live in distant Central Valley towns like Manteca and commute two hours to get to work. “I make really good money and it’s frustrating to me that I can’t afford to live close to my job,” she tells the reporter. Read more…
The junior Senator from California, Kamala Harris had made headlines for more than a decade. She was the first woman appointed District Attorney of San Francisco, the first female and first non-white lawyer elected to the office of Attorney General in California, and the second black woman ever elected to the Senate. If it is possible to go too far with praise, President Barack Obama once had to apologize for calling her good-looking. Elected on the same day Hillary Clinton failed to shatter the presidential glass ceiling, the Sentor has been deemed “the center of the resistance” against President Donald Trump. And this week, during Jeff Sessions’ testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, she was criticized for being too good at her job.