John's Publications














Author, Historian, Lecturer

    "One of LinkedIn's top 1% most endorsed in the U.S. for History!" 

Our family came to San Francisco in 1849 so my roots are deep. My ancestors include sheep herders, dairy ranchers, delicatessen owners, bankers, and no-nonsense bartenders. I grew up listening to stories told around the dinner table about our California heritage -- ranching in the 1880s, the earthquake and fire of 1906, the wondrous 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, and legends of immigrant life passed down by the first generation of European ancestors.

(I was especially intrigued by the '49er in our family tree who jumped ship in San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush to hunt for gold.)

At an early age I became fascinated by the City's history and our family’s role in its many stories. I guess I've been a historian-in-training my whole life.

During my twenty-five year career as a National Park Ranger I was fortunate to be stationed at some of our nation's most important historic places, from Alcatraz Island to Pearl Harbor. But much of my career was spent in my own backyard, working at such famous San Francisco sites as the Marin Headlands and the Presidio of San Francisco. Here, I learned the skills of a historian and an interpretive Ranger, and developed a passion for sharing my love of San Francisco with others. 

Today, I offer a variety of historical walks and talks about San Francisco and the Bay Area along with historical research and technical writing services. As the author of several books about San Francisco and military history, I'm as much a storyteller as historian.

I look forward to helping you discover  -- or rediscover -- San Francisco and its many stories.

-John Arturo Martini

(P.S. Who are those sturdy folks at the top of the page? My great-grandparents, Michael Mafissiamo Righetti and Magdalena Tognazzini Righetti. Photo taken around 1900 near their dairy ranch at Cayucos, California.)



  • April 30, 2017 "San Francisco in World War I" lecture at Petaluma Historical Society Museum, 20 4th St, Petaluma. 3 PM
  • May 3, 2017 Video shoot on Alcatraz for new documentary about island history.
  • May 7, 2017  Open House at Battery Townsley, Fort Cronkhite, Golden Gate NRA. Noon-4 PM
  • May 13, 2017 Sutro Baths talks for Mothers Day Weekend. Lands End Lookout, Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco. 10:30 & 11:30 AM
  • May 17, 2017  "Nerd Nite SF" presentation "Dungeons of Alcatraz." Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St, San Francisco. 7 PM
  • May 28, 2017  San Francisco military history walk for Obscura Society membership
  • June 2, 2017  Presidio Main Post History walks for Bridge Housing Authority conference participants



  • Just released! John's newest book Fort Point National Historic Site, published by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. The complete story of the construction, wartime history, decline and restoration of San Francisco's best-known fort. Purchase it at the fort or on-line at
  • John's hugely popular Sutro's Glass Palace: The Story of Sutro Baths. A lavishly illustrated history of Adolph Sutro's magnificent bathhouse, filled with scores of historic photographs and new illustrations that bring San Francisco's lost landmark back to life. Now available at the Lands End Lookout visitor Center, the Cliff House, and on-line at 
  • Watch John's presentation on the history of Sutro Baths at the infamous "Nerd Nite" get-together in San Francisco: