Lower Georgia Street-California's Forgotten Barbary Coast

Brendan Riley (Author)


It was a sailor's dream: more than 100 bars, casinos and whorehouses, just a short boat ride across the Napa River that separated the sprawling Mare Island Naval Shipyard from Vallejo, California. Why bother to head for San Francisco, about 25 miles to the south, when you could raise hell in Vallejo's Lower Georgia Street district? This was the city's original business zone, but over time the grocery stores, clothing shops and offices for doctors and lawyers were replaced by brightly lit joints that appealed to the sailors. Every time the United States got involved in wars, there were dramatic expansions in shipyard construction and repair. That meant big business for Lower Georgia Street as sailors on liberty poured into town. Top Navy brass made repeated demands on the city to clean up the problems. The district would improve, but only temporarily. In Vallejo, nothing before or since was as wild as the Lower Georgia district during World War II.

Product Details

Price: $22.99  $20.69
Publisher: America Through Time
Published Date: July 31, 2017
Pages: 128
Dimensions: 6.4 X 0.4 X 9.1 inches | 0.83 pounds
Language: English
Type: Paperback
ISBN: 9781634990240

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About the Author

Brendan Riley is a teacher, translator, writer, and editor. Among other works, he is the translator of Alvaro Enrigue's Hypothermia, Juan Filloy's Caterva, and Luis Goytisolo's Recounting, all available from Dalkey Archive Press. He lives in Southern California.


"Vallejo native and longtime reporter/writer Brendan Riley's new book, "Lower Georgia Street: California's Forgotten Barbary Coast," contains recollections like this. The book brings to life games like his sister and her friends would play, sticking a toe over the line between the good and bad sides of Georgia Street in defiance of their parents' orders to avoid lower Georgia, in the days when "good children" didn't venture past the 200 block." Vallejo Times Herald
"Some historians like to gloss over a city's dark underbelly, where prostitution was rampant, illegal gambling was uncontained, and political corruption allowed crime to flourish. A city with murders and mobsters.
Don't assume I'm talking about Las Vegas.
Nope. It's Vallejo, California, where historians were hesitant to write about the seamy side.
Except for retired journalist Brendan Riley. He remedied that this year by writing the first book about the ugly, vicious yet fascinating side of Vallejo, which parallels the same rough side of Nevada's gambling centers and involves some of the same characters." Las Vegas Review Journal