San Francisco has long been seen as a strange and somewhat magical place of self-discovery, a home to freaks, geeks, and free love between its foggy shores and steep slopes, a place to pass through, settle, or leave your heart. In A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, notable local Dave Eggers describes it thusly: “A city built with putty and pipe cleaners, rubber cement, and colored construction paper.” For artist Ian Huebert, that’s a depiction that truly hits the spot. “The quote really sums it up. Everyone in this city is set on doing something spectacular. There is a strong, do-it-yourself ethos here.” There’s bound to be something that speaks to everyone with a soft spot for SF on The Literary City, which brings together a trifecta of analog superstars—maps, books, and puzzles—into a lovely tribute to California’s most enchanting seven-by-seven square miles.
John McMurtrie, book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, did “an amazing amount of researching and sleuthing” to source the quotes, says Huebert, who then transformed the selections into a flowing, hand-lettered topography of his adopted hometown—delineated by neighborhood, naturally (San Francisco adores its neighborhoods). “I moved here about four years ago and it made an instant impression on me. It’s like nowhere else in the United States,” Huebert tells Co.Design. “The light at certain times of the day, how the weather changes from one hill to the next, the amazing people—it’s all an inspiration one way or another.” The project was originally developed as a poster, but the jigsaw adds a (literal) sense of depth, with 152 laser-cut wooden pieces that are interspersed with some surprising shapes, including a seagull, bicycle, and VW bug.
Everyone from Hunter S. Thompson to Mark Twain to Herb Caen to Amy Tan has their own perfectly composed view represented, and Maria Popova over at Brainpickings has a complete list of the featured tomes. Check it out, tell your friends, but whatever you do: Don’t call it Frisco.
(Full disclosure: I live in SF, so yeah, I’m biased. But objectively, this thing is great.)