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December 3, 2017

San Francisco: The Embarcadero


Looking back at the Embarcadero waterfront: Perhaps the best thing that happened as a consequence of the Loma Prieta Earthquake was the demise of the freeway that once dominated this area.

San Francisco has a storied freeway history. There were once grand plans to build a web of cross-city freeways. These plans fell to the determined opposition from the city’s residents. In the end, only the stubs of the planned highways were built. San Francisco remains to this day without a through freeway link between the US Highway 101 to the north and south of the City. Though it is less convenient for drivers, there is little doubt blocking the construction of the cross-city freeways preserved the character of many San Franciscan neighborhoods. (more…)

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November 28, 2017

San Francisco: Dogpatch


Abandoned buildings on San Francisco’s waterfront

Dogpatch is a mixed-use neighborhood on the bayside of San Francisco. Its location is cutoff from much of the City by the two main freeway arteries that run north south through the eastern side of San Francisco. The freeways make the neighborhood convenient for those who need to commute down the peninsula. But at the same time, the location makes Dogpatch less convenient to the City’s services and attractions. (more…)

San Francisco: Conservatory of Flowers


A water lily blooms inside the Conservatory of Flowers.

Construction of San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers was completed in 1879. It is the oldest building in Golden Gate Park. The conservatory is worth a visit not just for the collection of rare and exotic plants but also for the building itself. As an added bonus in 2017, when we visited, there was a special exhibition, “Butterflies and Blooms,” featuring an assortment of North American butterflies and moths. (more…)

San Francisco: The Haight and the Grateful Dead House


Haight-Ashbury has become a brand.

A little over fifty years ago, in 1967, it was the Summer of Love in San Francisco. In many ways the Summer of Love represents the peak of the hippie movement. That summer an estimated 100,000 hippies came to the City by the Bay to celebrate peace, love, and all things countercultural. Within the City the epicenter of the movement was Golden Gate Park and the Haight-Ashbury District. (more…)

November 27, 2017

San Francisco: San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art


“Furrow” by Carl Andre

I must admit having an affinity for modern art museums like San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art. Sure, I only really like about 10% or so of the pieces of art on display. In most modern art museums I don’t “get” many of the pieces. But for me that is part of the appeal. When I look at many pieces on display the nagging question that often comes to mind: “Is that art?” It’s a question that leads me down the deep rabbit hole of the eternal debate about what defines art. (more…)

November 21, 2017

San Francisco: Diego Rivera Fresco at the City Club of San Francisco


Details of Rivera’s fresco at the City Club

In 1931,and his new wife, the painter Frida Kahlo, were invited to San Francisco, to produce commissioned work. At the City Club of San Francisco is the first mural Rivera produced in the United States. The fresco depicts the riches of California on what was then the stairway wall and ceiling of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange Luncheon Club. There is irony in the location: A Hispanic artist with leftward political leanings created a mural with socialist themes in San Francisco’s “citadel of capitalism.” (more…)

November 12, 2017

San Francisco: The Interval at Long Now


A close up of a mechanical prototype for a clock meant to last for 10,000 years inside The Interval.

Every now and then we stumble into a curious place with an even more curious back-story. And so it was when we popped into The Interval in San Francisco’s Fort Mason. (more…)

November 11, 2017

San Francisco: A Tourist in One’s Hometown?


The Embarcadero at twilight

More than 30 years of my life have been spent in the San Francisco Bay Area. When asked by people overseas where I’m from, I usually say San Francisco. But that’s not really the case. Living on the San Francisco peninsula or in Berkeley for 30 years is not quite the same thing as living in the City. (more…)

San Francisco: Nike Missile Site SF-88


A docent at SF-88 explains the Nike missile launch procedures.

In 2017, on the first Saturday of March, we loaded onto Muni bus 76X at the intersection of Sansome and Sutter in San Francisco’s financial district. After a fifty-minute ride the city bus arrived at the former base, Site SF-88, in the Marin Headlands. SF-88 is one of over 200 former Cold War era anti-ballistic missile sites in the United States. Managed under the auspices of the National Park System, SF-88 is open to visitors on weekends. (more…)

December 19, 2014

United States: San Francisco’s Financial District


The old and the new in San Francisco's Financial District

The old and the new in San Francisco’s Financial District

San Francisco is a city of distinctive neighborhoods. Each area of the city has it own character and its own appeal. As in all cities, some districts are harder to love than others. San Francisco’s Financial District, with its shaded streets between its tall buildings won’t win a casual popularity contest. But if you look closer, the Financial District is more interesting than it deserves to be. Amongst the modern steel and glass monoliths are remnants of the post 1906 earthquake rebuild. The older buildings, the Neo-gothic high-rises and ornate bank buildings of the 1920’s, elegantly hold their place amongst the modern buildings. Oddly, in San Francisco’s Financial District, the old and the new look as if to belong together. (more…)

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