Books: San Francisco's Scarlet

THE BARBARY COAST: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld —Herbert Asbury—Knopf ($3).

San Francisco's Pacific Street starts at the waterfront, plods westward through the northern warehouse district, climbs past Chinatown and the Italian quarter to Larkin Street. There it changes its name to Pacific Avenue, straightens its dress and saunters out to the Presidio as a genteel residential lane. The first few blocks of Pacific Street today are a dreary line of warehouses, garages, shabby hotels, lunchrooms. Formerly they were the centre of San Francisco's notorious Barbary Coast, for nearly 70...

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