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.)



  • November 21, 2017 "Steam Trains, Shipwrecks and Cemeteries." Illustrated lecture for Smith Ranch Homes
  • November 24, 2017 Fort Baker history hike for private party
  • November 25, 2017 Fort Baker history hike for private party
  • November 27, 2017 Restoration project at Battery Townsley, Fort Cronkhite
  • December 3, 2017  Battery Townsley Open House, noon to 4 PM, Fort Cronkhite, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • December 12, 2017 Bus tour of Presidio of San Francisco. (Rescheduled from October)
  • December 25, 2017  Christmas!




  • 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: