Tour: The Last Cheap Walk

Atop Stockton tunnel with tour book

A guy hauling in from England just gave me a month’s advance notice, so if you want to join him, the next walk open to anyone who wants to show up is set for Sunday April 7, noon start at the n.w. corner of the library, four hours, the usual.

After that, what has been the usual for a few years will change. I’m jumping the price per person from $10, the rate that’s held since 1992, up to $20 per person.

As many of you know, the Hammett Tour isn’t really intended for general tourist types. I don’t do it several times a day, every day. Never have. And if only one or two people happen to show up on a given walk, cool. Big groups, little groups, whatever. (I do require a minimum of at least one person, though, I don’t do the walk just by myself.)

But unfortunately the city of San Francisco just did away with free parking on Sundays. Too greedy, in my opinion, but this means I’ll have to pay for a garage during the walk, plus I have to recognise that gas will never go down in price, only up — so only one or two people at $10 just won’t cover basic expenses.

If I don’t plan to get rich with the tour, and I haven’t been thinking about it the last 35 years, I’m not eager to start losing money with it, either.

Now, for people who don’t want to shell out $20 each, my advice is to grab a copy of the tour book — you can even find it used — and use it to track down all the sites. In the photo above shot on top of the Stockton tunnel during a walk, you can see me using it as a visual aide. Maybe not as much sheer fun as having me lead the way, but nonetheless it is effective.

And in addition to the tour book alternative, I’m going to talk to a guy about doing an App version, which is vaguely appealing in a here-and-now Tech Frisco sense. (Actually, if I like the Hammett Tour App, I was thinking, hmmmm, maybe the next version of The Literary World of San Francisco should be an App, not a book.)

You can still get a group of your pals together for a Tour by Appointment for a set price. If I happen to be coming into town on a specific day anyway, I’m willing to negotiate lower rates if you only have a few people. And I’ll offer some tours here and there at the new rate — a few in May, some more in September and October, others if people are rolling in and ask to do it with at least a month’s advance notice.

Whatever is open to the public will be on the Current Walks page, and my basic idea at this point is to shoot for 40 years on the mean streets. I think I can make that. 50 years, while a better milestone, just might be too much to ask of my feet.

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