The Bay Area: A History of Booms and Busts


At the London Review of Books, Rebecca Solnit provides readers with historic and contemporary insight into the Bay Area’s long history of “booms and busts”–from the California gold rush to the dot-com bubble—and examines the positive, but mostly detrimental effects these economic changes had/have on Bay Area residents.

Solnit’s claims:

There are ways in which Silicon Valley is nothing like [the Gold Rush]: it’s clean, quiet work, and here to stay in one form or another. But there are ways in which technology is just another boom and the Bay Area is once again a boomtown, with transient populations, escalating housing costs, mass displacements and the casual erasure of what was here before. I think of it as frontierism, with all the frontier’s attitude and operational style, where people without a lot of attachments come and do things without a lot of concern for their impact, where money moves around pretty casually, and people are ground underfoot equally casually.

Dot-com giants have changed the economic, cultural, and demographic framework of the Bay Area; whether those changes are for the greater whole is controversial at best.

Pat Johnson is currently working on his master’s in Fiction Writing at San Francisco State University, and is the owner and editor of the satirical news website The New Porker. When Pat’s not reading or writing he’s likely squeezing a lime into a Tecate and headed to the dance floor. He also creates short films, documentaries, and sketch comedies. Pat is completing his first novel, The Virgin and Marilyn Monroe, and writing a book of Creative Non-Fiction short stories. More from this author →