Sunset (magazine)
Sunset is a lifestyle magazine
Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Sunset focuses on homes, cooking
Cooking is the process of preparing food by use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training...

, gardening
Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants. Ornamental plants are normally grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance; useful plants are grown for consumption , for their dyes, or for medicinal or cosmetic use...

, and travel
Travel is the movement of people or objects between relatively distant geographical locations. 'Travel' can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.-Etymology:...

, with a focus almost exclusively on the Western United States
Western United States
.The Western United States, commonly referred to as the American West or simply "the West," traditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. Because the U.S. expanded westward after its founding, the meaning of the West has evolved over time...

. The magazine is published monthly by the Sunset Publishing Corporation, part of Southern Progress Corporation
Southern Progress Corporation
Southern Progress Corporation, based in Birmingham, Alabama, is a publisher of lifestyle magazines and books. The company publishes such magazines as Southern Living, Cooking Light, and Sunset. Today, its magazines have a combined readership of over 50 million...

, itself a subsidiary of Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...



Sunset began in 1898 as a promotional magazine for the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, designed to combat the negative "Wild West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

" stereotypes about California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...


The Sunset Limited
Sunset Limited
The Sunset Limited is a passenger train that for most of its history has run between New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California, and that from early 1993 through late August 2005 also ran east of New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida, making it during that time the only true transcontinental...

was the premier train on the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Sunset Route, which ran between New Orleans and San Francisco (the train is still in operation (from Los Angeles
Union Station (Los Angeles)
Los Angeles Union Station is the main railway station in Los Angeles, California. The station has rail services by Amtrak and Amtrak California and Metrolink; light rail/subways are the Metro Rail Red Line, Purple Line, Gold Line. Bus rapid transport runs on the Silver Line...

) to this day, as part of the national Amtrak
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union...

 system). Sunset Magazine was started to be available onboard and at the station, in order to promote the West. It aimed to lure tourists onto the company’s trains, entice guests to the railroad’s resort (the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey), and possibly encourage these tourists to stay and buy land, since the Southern Pacific was the largest single landowner in California and Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...


The inaugural issue featured an essay about Yosemite
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in east central California, United States. The park covers an area of and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain...

, with photographs by noted geologist Joseph LeConte
Joseph LeConte
Joseph Le Conte was an American geologist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley.-Biography:...

. There were social notes from Western resorts, like this from Pasadena: “The aristocratic residence town of Southern California and rendezvous for the traveling upper ten has enjoyed a remarkably gay season and the hotel accommodations have been sorely taxed”; and information about train travel. Poetry featuring railroad themes and a later string of short stories in which characters swapped tall tales, always aboard a train, also highlighted travel by rail. Most of these early stories were penned by Paul Shoup, who later abandoned fiction to become president of the Southern Pacific.

Earthquake and recovery

On April 18, 1906, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
1906 San Francisco earthquake
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was a major earthquake that struck San Francisco, California, and the coast of Northern California at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, 1906. The most widely accepted estimate for the magnitude of the earthquake is a moment magnitude of 7.9; however, other...

 destroyed the Sunset offices. The May 1906 edition was a six-page emergency issue, in stark contrast to the 214-page April 1906 edition. The issue opened with a dire communiqué from E. H. Harriman
E. H. Harriman
Edward Henry Harriman was an American railroad executive.-Early years:Harriman was born in Hempstead, New York, the son of Orlando Harriman, an Episcopal clergyman, and Cornelia Neilson...

, president of the Southern Pacific: “The earthquake on the morning of April 18th was the most severe that has occurred since San Francisco became a great city”. Next came a message from Sunset’s publishers: “This is to announce that by reason of the recent destruction by fire of the Sunset Magazine offices on April 18th, this Emergency Edition will be the only issue of the magazine for the month of May.… The priceless stock of drawing, photographs and engravings was burned.… In one day the accumulation and accomplishment of years were swept away”.

Soon, however, the magazine was trumpeting its hometown’s revival, in articles like “San Francisco’s Future” and “How Things Were Righted After the Fire of 1906”. In “A San Francisco Pleasure Cure”, an early story by Sinclair Lewis
Sinclair Lewis
Harry Sinclair Lewis was an American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of...

 published in the magazine, a tired businessman revived himself through a visit to the rebuilt city.

In 1914 the railroad sold the magazine to its employees, and Sunset began to publish original articles, stories and poetry focusing on the West. The format resembled other national general interest magazines of the day such as Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post
The Saturday Evening Post
The Saturday Evening Post is a bimonthly American magazine. It was published weekly under this title from 1897 until 1969, and quarterly and then bimonthly from 1971.-History:...

. Sunset reported on heavy political and economic issues; contributors included Stanford
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

 president David Starr Jordan
David Starr Jordan
David Starr Jordan, Ph.D., LL.D. was a leading eugenicist, ichthyologist, educator and peace activist. He was president of Indiana University and Stanford University.-Early life and education:...

 discussing international affairs and future U.S. president Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

 discussing the League of Nations. Fiction and poetry became more ambitious, featuring authors such as Jack London
Jack London
John Griffith "Jack" London was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone...

, Dashiell Hammett
Dashiell Hammett
Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade , Nick and Nora Charles , and the Continental Op .In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on...

, Mary Austin, and evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson
Aimee Semple McPherson
Aimee Semple McPherson , also known as Sister Aimee, was a Canadian-American Los Angeles, California evangelist and media celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s. She founded the Foursquare Church...


The art on Sunset’s cover equaled — probably out shined — the words within. The early 20th century was the golden age of magazine illustration, but Sunset held its own with any magazine in the country. Contributors of cover art included Will James
Will James (artist)
Will James was an artist and writer of the American West.James was born Joseph Ernest Nephtali Dufault, in 1892 in Saint-Nazaire-d'Acton, Quebec, Canada. He started drawing at the age of four on the kitchen floor...

 and Maynard Dixon
Maynard Dixon
Maynard Dixon was a 20th-century American artist whose body of work focused on the American West. He was married for a time to American photographer Dorothea Lange.-Biography:...


The Lane Publishing era

In the 1920s, the magazine became unprofitable, as it grew thinner and its circulation dwindled. In 1929, Lawrence W. Lane, a former advertising executive with Better Homes and Gardens
Better Homes and Gardens (magazine)
Better Homes and Gardens is the fourth best selling magazine in the United States. The editor in Chief is Gayle Butler. Better Homes and Gardens focuses on interests regarding homes, cooking, gardening, crafts, healthy living, decorating, and entertaining. The magazine is published 12 times per...

, purchased Sunset, and changed the format to what would become its current Western lifestyle emphasis. The Lane family would own Sunset for the next 62 years.

During the Depression, weighty ruminations on politics and economics were replaced with frivolous articles like March 1935’s “Little Toes, What Now?”, which began “This is the season when all the little toes are going not to market, but to have a pedicure".

Eventually, a meatier magazine emerged. Sunset began Kitchen Cabinet, a readers’ recipes feature still published today (now titled Reader Recipes). Essays on home architecture became more specifically geared to the West, with a series of sumptuously photographed articles championing the Western ranch house
Ranch-style house
Ranch-style houses is a domestic architectural style originating in the United States. First built in the 1920s, the ranch style was extremely popular amongst the booming post-war middle class of the 1940s to 1970s...

. Travel and garden coverage grew similarly focused and specific. In 1932 Sunset became the first magazine in the nation to publish different editions for different parts of our circulation area, allowing it to better tailor gardening advice to its readers.

Sunset eliminated the use of bylines, and articles were increasingly how-tos, giving it a voice of authority and efficiency. It was a successful formula: by 1938 the magazine was again profitable.

Under Lane's leadership, the company also produced a successful series of how-to home improvement and gardening books, which are still produced today.

Sunset at War

Sunset initially treated World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 as if it were a temporary irritation, but it soon mobilized for war. One story featured newly minted aviation cadets at the Santa Ana Army Air Base
Santa Ana Army Air Base
Santa Ana Army Air Base was an air base built during World War II that was decommissioned in 1946. The air base was used for basic training but did not have planes, hangars or runways. The base was and located in Costa Mesa between Baker Street on the north, Harbor Blvd. on the west, Wilson...

. Aware that the federal government’s victory garden tips did not always fit Western soils and climates, magazine editors planted their own 1 acres (4,046.9 m²) test plot near UC Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

 so that they could give their own advice.

In 1943, Sunset devised a new motto: “The Magazine of Western Living”.

At the end of World War II, Sunset presented series featuring innovative plans for homes to be built once the war was won, by architects including Portland’s Pietro Belluschi
Pietro Belluschi
Pietro Belluschi was an American architect, a leader of the Modern Movement in architecture, and was responsible for the design of over one thousand buildings....

 and Los Angeles’s Harwell Hamilton Harris
Harwell Hamilton Harris
Harwell Hamilton Harris, FAIA was a modernist American architect, noted for his work in Southern California that assimilated European and American influences.-Biography:Harris was born in Redlands, California in 1903...


When Lane took over the magazine, the population of the West was booming. A few years later, the end of World War II brought an explosion of newcomers. Drawing on his experience from the East Coast-serving Better Homes and Gardens, he guessed correctly that these new Westerners would be hungry for information about how to travel, cook, cultivate, and build in their new environment.

Building Sunset headquarters

For its first five decades, Sunset was headquartered in various downtown San Francisco office buildings. In 1951, the headquarters was moved to Menlo Park, California
Menlo Park, California
Menlo Park, California is a city at the eastern edge of San Mateo County, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, in the United States. It is bordered by San Francisco Bay on the north and east; East Palo Alto, Palo Alto, and Stanford to the south; Atherton, North Fair Oaks, and Redwood City...

, a suburb located 25 miles (40.2 km) south of San Francisco. The 7 acres (28,328 m²) parcel was a remnant of a 19th-century estate owned by the Hopkins family
Mark Hopkins
Mark Hopkins was one of four principal investors who formed the Central Pacific Railroad along with Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Collis Huntington in 1861.-Early years:...

. Its new headquarters was designed by Cliff May
Cliff May
Cliff May was an architect practicing in California best known and remembered for developing the suburban Post-war "dream home" — the California Ranch House.-Projects and the Ranch-style house:...

, known for his designs of ranch-style houses, which had been featured in Sunset for two decades. May created a long, low, adobe homestead that surrounded a central courtyard. For a while, Sunset referred to the Menlo Park headquarters as the Laboratory of Western Living. Its test kitchen processes thousands of recipes a year. It tests its gardening advice in a test garden.

To this day, the compound draws thousands of visitors each year.

Many great artists, including Jack London
Jack London
John Griffith "Jack" London was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone...

 and Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia Totto O'Keeffe was an American artist.Born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, O'Keeffe first came to the attention of the New York art community in 1916, several decades before women had gained access to art training in America’s colleges and universities, and before any of its women artists...

, have contributed to Sunset Magazine.

The Time Warner era

Lane Publishing sold Sunset Magazine and books to Time Warner in 1990, and the company was renamed Sunset Publishing Corporation. In 2001, Time Warner reorganized Sunset to be part of Southern Progress Corporation, best known for its similar home and lifestyle magazine Southern Living
Southern Living
Southern Living is a widely read lifestyle magazine aimed at readers in the Southern United States featuring recipes, house plans, and information about Southern culture and travel...

(its similarity to Sunset is no coincidence; its founders came out West to see how the Lanes did it in the early ’60s).{cn}}

In the 1990s, the franchise began to lose touch with its demographic, who viewed the magazine as something of their parents' era. Newer, fresher-looking lifestyle magazines, such as Martha Stewart Living
Martha Stewart Living
Martha Stewart Living is a magazine and a television show featuring entertaining and home decorating guru Martha Stewart. Both the magazine and the television program focus on the domestic arts. Martha Stewart Living began as a quarterly magazine in 1990, published by Time Inc..and is currently...

and Real Simple
Real Simple
Real Simple is a monthly women's interest magazine published by Time Inc.. Real Simple, which was launched by Time in 2000, features articles and information related to homekeeping, childcare, cooking and emotional wellbeing. Real Simple is distinguished by its clean, uncluttered style of layout...

, presented Sunset with competition. When Katie Tamony took over as editor-in-chief in 2001, she collaborated with new creative director Mia Daminato (former creative director for Australian-based Federal Publishing Company's Magazine Group) to create a new, more modern design.

Western Home Awards program

Since 1957, Sunset’s Western Home Awards program, cosponsored by the American Institute of Architects, has introduced readers to works by Richard Neutra
Richard Neutra
Richard Joseph Neutra is considered one of modernism's most important architects.- Biography :Neutra was born in Leopoldstadt, the 2nd district of Vienna, Austria Hungary, on April 8, 1892. He was born into both-Jewish wealthy family...

, Charles Moore, and Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry
Frank Owen Gehry, is a Canadian American Pritzker Prize-winning architect based in Los Angeles, California.His buildings, including his private residence, have become tourist attractions...

, among other notables.

Environmental reporting

Environmental reporting is a Sunset tradition that dates back to the magazine’s early years. It has helped shape the debate on natural treasures as far afield as the Mojave Desert and the Tongass National Forest. The West’s national parks have been a particular passion. Occasionally it has sounded an environmental alarm, as it did with its pioneering 1969 article demanding a ban on DDT
DDT is one of the most well-known synthetic insecticides. It is a chemical with a long, unique, and controversial history....


Editors of Sunset Magazine

There have been 11 editors of Sunset:
  • E. H. Woodham
  • Charles Field
  • Joseph Henry Jackson
  • Lou Richardson
  • Genevieve Callahan
  • William Nichols
  • Walter Doty
  • Proctor Mellquist
  • William Marken
  • Rosalie Muller Wright
  • Katie Tamony

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.