May 27, 2017
Whales at the Golden Gate Bridge, Views from the Grizzly Peak Road, snapshots around Alamo Square . . . all with quotes by Herb Caen


For several days last week there were sightings of migrating whales around the Golden Gate Bridge and in San Francisco Bay. On Saturday the 20th, Dave and I drove out to Fort Point beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and watched five or six whales in the waters near the south tower of the bridge. I didn't have a telephoto lens, so I wasn't able to get any decent photos of them. I focused instead on the bridge. The next day Sunday, we were in the Berkeley Hills on the Grizzly Peak Road and in Tilden Park.

Yesterday, we walked around the recently re-opened Alamo Square. On Wednesday this week, after one year and almost $6 million of work, Alamo Square Park re-opened with new trees, new grass, drought resistant plants, and a more water-efficient park irrigation system.


Jazz watching crows from his "crows nest" in the round room

Jazz basking in the warmth of morning sunlight while watching crows

Jazz napping on the top of my harddrives


You wouldn't think such a place as San Francisco could exist. The wonderful sunlight there, the hills, the great bridges, the Pacific at you shoes. . . The lobsters, clams, and crabs. Oh, Cat, what food for you. Every kind of seafood there is.  

Dylan Thomas, in a letter to his wife, Caitlin

“Thank God we’re all living in San Francisco. I’d hate to be this annoyed anywhere else.”  

Herb Caen

Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began on January 5, 1933 and the last rivet was placed on May 27, 1937.

 The bridge is 6, 450 ft. long and 90 ft. wide. The towers rise 746 ft. above the water and the height of the roadway span at center is 220 ft. above low tide.  The main cables from which the span hangs (each 36.5 inches diameter and 7, 660 ft. long) are made up of 27, 572 strands of 0.2 inch diameter steel cable. . .22,000 tons worth and 80,000 miles long.  This 0.2 inch cable could circle the globe at the equator more than five times.  693,000 cubic yards of concrete and 100,000 tons of steel were used in spanning the Gate.  25,000,000 man hours went into building the Golden Gate Bridge. . .eleven men lost their lives during its construction. The bridge, as designed,  can sway 27.7 ft.  during high winds.  The paint color of the Golden Gate Bridge is International Orange.  

There are now well over a thousand known suicides who have jumped off the bridge since it opened in 1937.  Nearly all these desperate souls who finally went over the side, did so facing towards San Francisco, but that is simply because pedestrians are not allowed on the ocean side of the span.

“To a traveler paying his first visit,  San Francisco has the interest of a new planet.  It ignores the meteorological laws which govern the rest of the world.”  

Friz Hugh Ludlow

The Canticle of the Sun
by Francis of Assisi   (San Francisco)

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.


"The bay of San Francisco has been celebrated from the time of its first discovery as one of the finest in the world. It rises into an importance far above that of a mere harbor. . . Its latitude position is that of Lisbon, Its climate that of Southern Italy, settlements attest to its healthfulness, bold shores and mountains give it grandeur, the extent and fertility of its dependent country give it great resources for agriculture, commerce, and population. . . To this gate I gave the name Chrysopylae or Golden Gate. . . “

John Fremont 

“I like the way the wind whips your skirts when you go by cable car up Nob Hill. I like the salt spray in your face when the surf breaks on the rocks at Fort Point. I like the white waves the ferry boats leave as they ply the bay, to the Oakland mole. I like the seals barking on the rocks at the Cliff House. I like the fog rolling over St. Francis Wood. I like the trolleys racing each other down Market Street’s four tracks. I like the Irish cops and the Italian flower vendors. I just like San Francisco, I guess.” 

Rita Hayworth

"It is a good thing the early settlers landed on the East Coast; if they’d landed in San Francisco first, the rest of the country would still be uninhabited."

Herbert Mye

“There is no stupidity great enough to ruin the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge. It has been the subject of terrible poetry and worse paintings, but it rises easily and grandly above the mundane, its towers poking through the fogs, natural and man-made.”  

Herb Caen

"To this day the city of San Francisco remains to the Chinese the Great City of the Golden Mountains."   

Kai Fu Shah, Chinese Minister to U.S. 1914


"What fetched me instantly (and thousands of other newcomers with me) was the subtle but unmistakable sense of escape from the United States."

H.L. Mencken


It has been said that all great cities of history have been built on bodies of water-Rome on the Tiber, Paris on the Seine, London on the Thames, New York on the Hudson. If this is the criterion of a city’s greatness, surely San Francisco ranks in the first magnitude among cities of the world. For never was a metropolis more dominated by any natural feature than San Francisco by its bay.”

Harold Gillian

They park the car by the Marina.
The surface of the cobalt bay
Is flecked with white. The moister, keener
October air has rinsed away
The whispering mists with crisp intensity
And over the opaque immensity
A deliquescent wash of blue
Revels the bridge, long lost to view
In summer’s quilt of fog: the towers
High built, red-gold, with their long span
--The most majestic spun by man--
Whose threads of steel through mists and showers,
Wind, spray, and the momentous roar
Of ocean storms, link shore to shore.

From  THE GOLDEN GATE  by  Vikram Seth (1986)

“San Francisco was not just a wide open town.  It is the only city in the United States which was not settled overland by the westward–spreading puritan tradition . . .
It had been settled mostly, in spite of the romances of the overland migration, by gamblers,  prostitutes,  rascals,  immigrants,  and fortune seekers who came across the Isthmus and around the Horn.  They had their faults, but they were not influenced by Cotton Mather. “

  Kenneth Rexroth,   Beat poet





"I don't think San Francisco needs defending. I never meet anyone who doesn't love the place, Americans or others."

Doris Lessing

"East is East, and West is San Francisco."

O. Henry

San Francisco

"That City of Gold to which adventurers congregated out of all the winds of heaven. I wonder what enchantment of the 'Arabian Nights' can have equaled this evocation of a roaring city, in a few years of a man's life, from the marshes and the blowing sand.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

“With the memory of persons not yet old,  a mariner might have steered into these narrows—not yet the Golden Gates—opened out the surface of the bay—here girt with hills,  there lying broad to the horizon—and beheld a scene as empty of the presence,  as pure from the handiwork,  of man,  as in the days of our old sea-commander. . . .Now,  a generation later,  a great city covers the sand-hills of the west,  a growing town lies along the muddy shallows of the east;  steamboats pant continually between them from before sunrise till the small hours of the morning;  lines of great sea-going ships lie ranged at anchor;  colours fly upon the islands;  and from all around the hum of corporate life,  of beaten bells,  and steam,  and running carriages,  goes cheerily abroad in the sunshine.  Choose a place on one of the huge throbbing ferryboats,  and,  when you are midway between the city and the suburb;  look around.  The air is fresh and salt as if you were at sea.  On the one hand is Oakland,  gleaming white among its gardens.  On the other,  to seaward,  hill after hill is crowded and crowned with the palaces of San Francisco;  its long streets lie in regular bars of darkness,  east and west,  across the sparkling picture;  a forest of masts bristles like bulrushes about its feet;  nothing remains of the days of Drake but the fanciful trade-wind scattering the smoke,  the fogs that will begin to muster around sundown,  and the fine bulk of Tamalpais looking down on San Francisco like Arthur’s seat on Edinburgh.”     


by Robert Louis Stevenson [1883]


“When you drive in on a Sunday evening after a hot day in the country and catch that first glimpse of the white fog racing in shreds---as though torn from a giant Kleenex box! --- yes, flinging itself, Kleenix-like, through the cables of the world’s greatest if too narrow bridge, you know why you live here.”  

Herb Caen

Remember yourself always and everywhere.    



One day if I do go to heaven, I’m going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to heaven, I’ll look around and say, “it ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.”  

Herb Caen

“A wall of thick, dirty fog rising genie-like from the Pacific, while a finger of whiter, puffier stuff feels its way into the bay, twisting this way and that till it conforms to every contour,  snugly and coldly.”  

Herb Caen

"It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness in the late afternoon of time."

Jack KerouacOn the Road


"I think San Francisco is the best place in the whole world for an easy life."

Imogen Cunningham


My wild-knight neon twinkle fate there, ah, and then finally at dawn of a Sunday and they did call me, the immense girders of Oakland Bay still haunting me and all that eternity too much to swallow and not knowing who I am at all.     

Jack Kerouac

This is the season in which I like San Francisco best;  although we’re normally a Californian city,  there’s a certain dreamy quality to the place that’s often at odds with the matter-of-factness of sunny day after sunny say.  After all, aren’t we supposed to be the cool grey city of love?    

Laurel Wellman

"There is no logic to San Francisco generally, a city built with putty and pipe cleaners, rubber cement and colored construction paper. Its the work of fairies, elves, happy children with new crayons."

Dave EggersA Heartbeaking Work of Staggering Genius

San Francisco beats the world for novelties;  but the inventive faculties of her people are exercised as a specialty. . . Controversy is our forte.

San Francisco Call 1864



"San Francisco is really fun and liberal, and it's my kind of politics. It's like being Jewish in front of Jewish people."

— Elayne Boosler


“....this marvelous city.  Bazaar of all the nations of the globe,  (compares) with the fantastic creations of ‘The Thousand and One Nights’ ”

Edmond Auger,  French gold hunter seeing San Francisco in 1849

"As the years went by, San Francisco became not only my city but also my way of life. From the time I was a boy, I wanted to live in a place like my father's theater world, a magic box filled with lavishly made-up women, extravagant gay men, and other larger-than-life characters. I wanted a world that could encompass all worlds. I found something close to it in this soft-lit city in the ocean mists."

David TalbotSeason of the Witch

“It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.”

Oscar Wilde

The air has an indefinable softness and sweetness—a tonic quality that braces the nerves to a joyous tension, making the very sense of existence a delight.     

Scribner's Monthly

San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality.   

Paul Kantner of the rock band Jefferson Airplane

"San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal."

William Saroyan

“Some people become San Franciscans almost immediately,  feeling the poetry,  sensing the specialness,  seeing what makes the city great and not so great,  boning up on the history and walking the streets with glamorous ghosts at their elbows.  Others can live here all their lives and never get the message.”  

Herb Caen

SAN FRANCISCO in the years before the 1906 fire provided a sort of Big Rock Candy Mountain for the entire American people. . .  Good Americans when they died might, in the terms of the epigram, go to Paris. While they where alive they wanted to go to California. Oceans of champagne, silk hats and frock coats, blooded horses, and houses on Nob Hill, these were the rewards that came to the industrious, the far sighted, or the merely fortunate. What better scheme of things, at least on this side of the river, could any man ask?  

Lucius Beebe

"San Francisco is the genius of American cities.  It is the wild-eyed,  all-fired,  hard-boiled,  tender-hearted,  white-haired boy of the American family of cities.  It is the prodigal son.  The city which does everything and is always forgiven,  because of its great heart,  its gentle smile,  its roaring laughter,  its mysterious and magnificent personality.   There are no end of ways of enduring time in San Francisco,  pleasantly,  beautifully,  and with the romance of living in everything.  Eat any kind of dish the races of the world know how to prepare.  Drink any kind of wine you like.  Go to the opera.  The symphony.  The concert.  Go to a movie or a stage play.  Loaf around in the high-toned bars,  or in the honky-tonks.  Sail the bay.  If you are alive you can’t be bored in San Francisco.  If you’re not alive,  San Francisco will bring you to life.  San Francisco is a world to explore.  It is a place where the heart can go on a delightful adventure.  It is a city in which the spirit can know refreshment every day. “  

Ibid (circa  1891)

“It’s the indescribable conglomeration of beauty and ugliness that makes San Francisco a poem without meter,  a symphony without harmony,  a painting without reason---a city without an equal.”  

Herb Caen

"San Francisco is the only city I can think of that can survive all the things you people are doing to it and still look beautiful."

 Frank Lloyd Wright


“San Francisco is a city where people are never more abroad than when they are at home.” Benjamin F. Taylor


  “The city is like a snake, shedding its skin, changing constantly, moving about in unexpected directions. However, if it is a great city, which San Francisco forever is, it retains its basic qualities---a sense of adventure, a delight in its own history, an air of freedom and a rare tolerance for divergent views and actions. The city dances on its hills and unashamedly enjoys its own beauty, which has survived many a long night of excesses, both joyous and tragic.
    San Francisco, a great writer’s town---tantalizing, just out of reach in its misty aloofness. A city so small and yet so varied, from block to block. Cross a street and enter a different world. Every writer about San Francisco strives to capture its essence and, on occasion, feels he has succeeded---but the city is always one step ahead, laughing, disappearing into the fog.”    

Herb Caen  January 25, 1992     


Published by Chronicle Books 1992


It only takes a tiny corner of
This great big world to make a place you love.
My home upon the hill
I find I love you still.
I’ve been away,  but now I’m back to tell you:

San Francisco,  open your golden gate
You let no stranger wait outside your door.
San Francisco,  here is your wandering one
Saying ” I’ll wander no more. ”
Other places only make me love you best
Tell me you’re the heart of all the golden west.
San Francisco,  welcome me home again
I’m coming home to go roaming no more.


By Gus Kahn 1936



"Once I knew the city very well, spent my attic days there, while others were being a lost generation in Paris, I fledged in San Francisco, climbed its hills, slept in its parks, worked on its docks, marched and shouted in its revolts... It had been kind to me in the days of my poverty and it did not resent my temporary solvency."

John Steinbeck

“To a traveler paying his first visit,  San Francisco has the interest of a new planet.  It ignores the meteorological laws which govern the rest of the world.”  

Friz Hugh Ludlow


First time we came here, we walked the streets all day — all over town — and nobody hassled us. People smiled, friendly-like, and we knew we could live here… Los Angeles? That’s just a big parking lot where you buy a hamburger for a trip to San Francisco… And the beautiful old houses and the strange light. We’ve never been in a city with light like this. We sit in our hotel room for hours, watching the fog come in, the light change."

John Lennon, speaking for himself and Yoko Ono


"If you're alive, you can't be bored in San Francisco. If you're not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life."

— William Saroyan



“San Francisco is unique---a thing without a parallel, one that admits of no comparisons, for there is nothing like it in the histories of cities.”
William M’Collum, M.D.


"San Francisco has only one drawback: 'tis hard to leave."

— Rudyard Kipling

I fell in love with the most cordial sociable city in the Union.  After the sagebrush and alkali deserts of Washoe, San Francisco was paradise to me.   

Mark Twain


In the seagull's scream, chuck-chuck of ferryboat paddles, naughty giggles in upstairs rooms at the St. Germaine and Blanco’s and slap of cable on what Gelett Burgess called “The Hyde Street Grip”--in these things and more, the magic seems to have endured long after ‘06.  

Herb Caen


Your city is remarkable not only for its beauty.  It is also, of all the cities in the United States,  the one whose name,  the world over,  conjures up the most visions and more than any other,  incites one to dream.     

Georges Pompidou

When you get tired of walking around in San Francisco, you can always lean against it.


"When you're in love with a city, you grope for shadows that vanish at first touch."

Herb Caen

"There's just no doubt about it. Sanfransensual it is."

Herb Caen

Whoever laid the town out took the conventional checkerboard pattern of streets and without the slightest regard for the laws of gravity planked it down blind on. . . a confusion of steep slopes and sandhills. The result is exhilarating. John Dos Passos  I went to San Francisco I saw the bridges high,  Spun across the water Like cobwebs in the sky.

Langston Hughes

It is believed that some San Franciscans who died in the 1906 earthquake and fire are buried in Alamo Square. A temporary camp was almost set up in the square for those who were left homeless by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The terrace of restored three-story wooden homes on the east side of Steiner Street between Hayes and Fulton Streets across from Alamo Square was built by Irish-born property developer Matthew Kavanaugh in the 1890’s. They were originally sold for $3,500. Kavanaugh, who lived at 722 Steiner from 1892 through 1900, couldn’t have envisioned that a century later his houses would be among the most photographed vantage points in San Francisco, known as “postcard row.” The colorfully painted, elaborate Victorians contrast sharply with the skyscrapers of the Financial District looming in the background. The houses have been the ‘homes’ of characters in the motion pictures Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Woman in Red (1984), and Maxie (1985), and the television programs Too Close for Comfort (1980-1986) and Full House (1987-1995).

Respectfully taken from SAN FRANCISCO SECRETS

by John Snyder  Chronicle Books 1999

Like many merchants during the Gold Rush, Levi Strauss journeyed to San Francisco to sell goods to the prospectors. An immigrant from Germany, he brought a load of canvas to turn into tents. Strauss had no success selling the tents, but constantly heard miners complain that their pants didn’t hold up to the rigors of the gold mines. He turned the canvas into pants instead, and the garments were an instant hit. He eventually switched from canvas to a tough blue cotton fabric loomed in Nimes, France, called serge de Nimes, which quickly became the word “denim” and gave the trousers their trademark color. The name “jeans” came from the French word Genes (meaning “Genoa”), as the trousers were reminiscent of those once worn by Genoan sailors. The copper rivets, originally designed for saddles, were added to reinforce the pants in the 1870’s and emblazoned with the initials SF for San Francisco. Levi jeans became part of the popular culture during the 1950’s, and business more than doubled in the 1960s. The company is still in San Francisco and is operated by descendants of Levi Strauss.


by John Snyder 1999 Chronicle Books


Multicolored paint schemes on San Francisco’s “Painted Ladies” did not become the fashion until the late 1960s.
Originally, Victorians were painted in drab white, gray, black, and brown. The bay-windowed, decorated, redwood-framed Victorian houses, built from the 1870s through the turn of the century, are the city’s most treasured architectural feature. Victorian houses fell out of favor for many years, and thousands that survived the 1906 fire were demolished or underwent alteration with new facades of asbestos sheeting, stucco, plaster, or stone. Much of the origional decorative metalwork was stripped off during World War I and World War II scrap drives. Beginning in the 1960s, many Victorians were restored and renovated and were sold at exorbitant prices. About 14,000 of the original 48,000 Victorians are still standing in San Francisco. The highest concentration of Victorians is in an area bounded by Divisadero Street, Golden Gate Avenue, Webster Street, and Fell Street.

Respectfully taken from SAN FRANCISCO SECRETS by John Snyder

 Chronicle Books 1999


For all its contradictions. . . San Francisco remains a beacon,  always with that dangerous streak of insanity,  built in at birth.  

 Herb Caen

"San Franciscans are very proud of their city, and they should be. It’s the most beautiful place in the world."

Robert Redford

“Only in Greece and in the Sinai have I seen light quite as three-dimensional,  dense,  limpid,  delicate,  dreamlike,  and clear:  To say that much of San Francisco faces north over water only partially explains the effect.  I have lived in Haifa,  another city that faces north over water.  From its hills one can see extraordinary light,  but it is not like the light of San Francisco.  It isn’t as rich.  The light of Rome is richer,  but it isn’t as clear.  In Paris,  the light does magical things but only in the sky and among the clouds,  seldom descending.  San Francisco light isn’t merely bright and glowing like none other;  it engages you in its battle with the fog,  makes you an ally,  sweeps you along,  carries you with it (when you look out over the distance) as if you were not where you are standing but where you are looking.  The pellucid,  enthralling light of San Francisco is like one of those huge emerald waves in Hawaii through which surprised surfers break only to find themselves on the covers of magazines.
    Light is the soul of San Francisco.  It is responsible for the serenity and inner freedom that are otherwise inexplicable.  It energizes.  It enthralls.  It redeems bad buildings and jerry-built neighborhoods and makes more beautiful the beautiful buildings and their surroundings.  Most importantly,  it,  like the laws of proportion,  is an agent that perpetually shapes the city---through human intentions,  but beyond them.  Unlike proportion however,  which underlies even the light itself,  the light is something specific,  active,  and surprising.  Once,  I was walking in Fort Mason,  under the shade of the trees.  I came to a place on the path where the view gave out on the Golden Gate.  The metal roofs of Fort Mason itself were hardly a shade different from the color of the bridge;  beyond the bridge the cliffs were tinged in red;  and beyond them something was in the air,  an almost imperceptible glint of gold and red light.  My line of sight,  amplified by the resonance of the otherworldly red and gold,  was like the trajectory of a rocket,  which is perhaps why I suddenly felt as if I had been shot out of a cannon.  The sensation was that of flight,  of tremendous velocity,  of moving out of the dark,  out of oneself,  and into gravity-less light.  San Francisco is one of the few cities in the world where things like this happen not only to beatitudes and mystics but to newsboys,  politicians,  and donut-fryers.  If it hasn’t happened to you,  perhaps you should move to Philadelphia. “  

Mark Helprin from THE TRUE BUILDERS OF CITIES 1990

“San Franciscans have it easier.  When they go bust they have the view.  True, you can’t eat it, but it feeds the soul.”

Herb Caen

If you’re going to San Francisco,
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.
If you’re goin’ to San Francisco,
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there.

For those who come to San Francisco,
Summertime will be a love-in there.
In the streets of San Francisco,
Gentle people with flowers in their hair.

All across the nation,
Such a strong vibration: People in motion.
There’s a whole generation,
With a new explanation,  People in motion,  People in motion.

If you come to San Francisco,
Summertime will be a love-in there.

SAN FRANCISCO by John Phillips 1967


"It's like Paris — it's soft, the breeze blows, the city may swelter but the hillers do fly — over the bay is Oakland (ah me Hart Crane Melville and all ye assorted brother poets of the American night that once I thought would be my sacrificial altar and now it is but who's to care, know, and I lost love because of it — drunkard, dullard, poet) . . .

Jack KerouacThe Subterraneans


“Queen of the Pacific Coast! Fair city whose changing skies for half the year shower down mist and rain, and the other half sunbeams of molten brass! Metropolis of alternate sticky mud and blinding dust! In spite of these and more thou art a city of my heart, O Ciudad de San Francisco!”

T.S. Kenderdine

Whoever laid the town out took the conventional checkerboard pattern of streets and without the slightest regard for the laws of gravity planked it down blind on . . .  a confusion of steep slopes and sandhills.  The result is exhilarating.    

John Dos Passos

San Francisco's City Hall is a world-class architectural masterpiece.  The design is by Arthur Brown Jr. who was a student of Bernard Maybeck and a graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  He took his ideas from the Church of Les Invalides in Paris,  which was built in the seventeenth century and later became Napoleon's tomb. The 308-foot-high dome was designed so that it would be taller by about a dozen feet than the capitol dome in Washington D.C.  The building suffered considerable damage on  October 17, 1989 during the Loma Preita Earthquake. 

You are fortunate to live here.  If I were your President,  I would levy a tax on you for living in San Francisco.   

Mikhail Gorbachev

I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill it calls to me,
To be where little cable cars
Climb halfway to the stars,
The morning fog may chill the air--
I don’t care.

Douglas Cross and George Cory


“It’s a town that is forever grabbing you by the throat and saying, ‘Look around, see what’s going on, feel it, experience it.
You don’t have to enjoy it. Just don’t turn your back on it, OK?’”  

Herb Caen

 “San Francisco owes its fabled beauty to nature more than any other source.  Hills,  fog,  and water define the city.  But nature,  of course,  both acts upon San Francisco and is acted upon by it. Virtually none of the landscape is as it was when the Ohlone lived off the land:  even the city's forests were imported,  to make the environment appear gentler and more like places that settlers had left behind.
   But as we are reminded every time the earth quakes,  nature is not gentle,  and the changes wrought by natural forces dwarf any that humans have made on the terrain.  Take San Francisco Bay. Twenty-five thousand years ago,  before the end of the last Ice Age,  it wasn’t a bay at all,  but a valley carved out by the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.  Their currents flowed through the Golden Gate and clear out to today’s Farallon Islands before joining the ocean.  That ocean created and carried the sand upon which San Francisco is built---sand in drifts so deep that today’s Richmond and Sunset districts may well lie over buried rock peaks.  The glaciers melted;  water filled the valley and made a bay,  and on that bay floated Spanish boats towards what would one day be San Francisco. “  


by Janet Bailey


 The Sutro Tower’s construction began in 1971 and was completed in 1972. Named after Adolph Sutro, a businessman and former mayor of San Francisco, the tower stands 977 feet from the ground and 1,800 ft from sea level. It is the tallest structure in San Francisco, surpassing the 853 ft Transamerica Pyramid by more than 100 ft. In addition, it is built on one of the highest peaks in the city, Mount Sutro, the old site of the Sutro Mansion owned by Adolph Sutro's descendents. About 15 million pounds of concrete were used to make the foundation of the 3.7 million pound tower. Earthquake proofing includes ballasting two thirds of the weight of the structure below ground, with resulting center of gravity at sixteen feet below ground level. It is used to transmit ten analog, eleven digital TV stations, and four FM radio stations to the San Francisco Bay area.

First in rapture
And first in beauty
Wayward, passionate, brave
Glad of life God gave.
The sea-winds are her kiss,
And the seagull is her dove.
Cleanly and strongly she is--
My cool, grey city of love.

                            George Sterling


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The images are not in the public domain. They are the sole property of the artist and may not be reproduced on the Internet, sold, altered, enhanced, modified by artificial, digital or computer imaging or in any other form without the express written permission of the artist. Non-watermarked copies of photographs on this site can be purchased by contacting Ron.