The San Francisco City Guides are volunteers who take walking tours around the famous and infamous areas of the city by the bay. From a control center in a windowless room in the public library an incredible thirty different tours are organized each month, many are repeated numerous times every week, all year round and they are absolutely free. If you want to go on a tour, no need to book ahead, just turn up. Here is the detail: http://www.sfcityguides.org/index.html
It’s one thing to offer free tours, it’s another to offer something that’s worth turning up for. The volunteer guides are fantastic, statues should be built in their honor. Forget that stupid bus tour of a European capital with a droning cassette guiding you around, or the rote learned script delivered by an often disinterested drone punctuated by dumb, unfunny jokes. The SF City Guides are committed, amateur historians who have thoroughly researched their beats. Their knowledge – and what you learn on a tour – extends well beyond published history books and often comes from a tour guide’s investigation of local archives and other public records and chats with local characters. By going on a tour you are privy to a historical work in progress, a growing brains trust of city history. They bring along historic photos to show you how a particular area has changed over time and some of the knowledge is so specialized and little known that an internet search will fail to bring up anything. A statue should be erected in honor of San Francisco City Guides. Maybe we can replace one of the tributes to the military industrial complex?