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Pictures of a Gone City: Tech and the Dark Side of Prosperity in the San Francisco Bay Area

April 26, 20184:00 pm6:00 pm


The San Francisco Bay Area is currently the jewel in the crown of capitalism—the tech capital of the world and a gusher of wealth from the Silicon Gold Rush. It has been generating jobs, spawning new innovation, and spreading ideas that are changing lives everywhere. It boasts of being the Left Coast, the Greenest City, and the best place for workers in the USA. So what could be wrong? It may seem that the Bay Area has the best of it in Trump’s America, but there is a dark side of success: overheated bubbles and spectacular crashes; exploding inequality and millions of underpaid workers; a boiling housing crisis, mass displacement, and severe environmental damage; a delusional tech elite and complicity with the worst in American politics.

Professor Walker will discuss his new book, a sweeping account of the Bay Area in the age of the tech boom. He’ll begin with the phenomenal concentration of IT in Greater Silicon Valley, the fabulous economic growth of the bay region and the unbelievable wealth piling up for the 1% and high incomes of Upper Classes—in contrast to the fate of the working class and people of color earning poverty wages and struggling to keep their heads above water. He’ll also survey the urban scene, including the greatest housing bubble in the United States, a metropolis exploding in every direction, and a geography turned inside out. Lastly, he’ll hit the environmental impact of the boom, the fantastical ideology of TechWorld, and the political implications of the tech-led transformation of the bay region.

This event is co-sponsored by the departments of City and Regional Planning and Geography at UC Berkeley.

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Thursday, April 26, 4:00 pm
IRLE Director’s Room
Lecture will be followed by a reception.

Richard Walker is professor emeritus at the UC Berkeley Geography Department. He began his career writing about environmental issues, and his work has covered topics from rent theory to racial conflict. He focuses in particular on the logic of capitalism as an economic, political and social system, and its geographical evolution.


You can hear him discuss the politics of drought on KPFA and the history of green space in the Bay Area on KQED. His other books include The Atlas of California: Mapping the Challenges of a New Era and The Conquest of Bread: 150 Years of California Agribusiness.