Category Archives: San Francisco Living

North Beach

This area of the city is nestled near Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf, and has a long history as the Italian section of San Francisco. By the 1930’s, one tenth of the city’s population was Italian. It was home to Italian notables like the great chocolatier, Domingo Ghirardelli; and that baseball sensation, Joe Di Maggio. In fact, Joe renewed his wedding vows to the beautiful Marilyn Monroe on the steps located in front of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. This is the one of the few churches, if the only church in America, with the street number 666. No kidding.

North Beach was settled in the late 1800’s and received its name because it was the Northern waterfront. Because of landfill and new construction, this characteristic of the area changed drastically over the past 100 years. San Francisco is always trying to find new ways to add livable space to this tip of the peninsula community.

The area thrived after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. In fact, three and four-story Edwardian homes appeared magically all over the area in order to offer cheap housing near the bay. Many of these structures are still around today, and they definitely add to the charming appeal of the neighborhood.

Eventually it became home to the Beatnik culture, and places like Vesuvio, Specs, and other businesses which encouraged radical self-expression popped up all over the area. This is also the place where you will find City Lights Bookstore which boasts one of the largest collections of Beat literature and history.

Finally, the area also was, and is, a center for nightlife. Walking down the streets at twilight you can smell the Italian food from the restaurants, hear the music of live bands seeping out into the streets, and you can even check out a peep-show. Starting in 1964, people rushed to North Beach and caused traffic jams in order to see the topless dancer, Carol Doda, perform at the Condor Club. Shocking!

North Beach is a magical place, and best experienced in the early evening on into the night.




Source: San Francisco: A Cultural History, Mick Sinclair (This is an awesome book, and I highly recommend it.)


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Filed under San Francisco Art, San Francisco History, San Francisco Living, San Francisco Tourist

Global Warming Threat

The reclaimed lands are marked in pink.

Everyone who lives in or near San Francisco is very aware of the threat of global warming.  For example, if you talk to someone from Alameda, you realize that they definitely take the prospect of global warming and the rise of the sea seriously.  Alameda, on average, sits only 4 feet above sea level, and any rise of the bay/sea is going to be catastrophic for this historic village positioned on two islands in the bay.

The City of San Francisco also has reason to be alarmed about the sea level.  There are large portions of this city that were reclaimed from the bay.  The founding fathers often used parts of abandoned ships, sand from the tops of hills, and whatever they had in order to fill in the marshes, the inlets, and small creaks near the bay to make more usable land.  In the past, entrepeneurs paid very high prices for land that was actually covered by the bay.  They then would cheaply fill it in and make large profits selling off prime bay front property.  It’s amazing to look at the old maps and realize how much land was actually reclaimed and in use today.  For example, Mission Bay used to be a rather large bay, but now it is just the size of a small creek surrounded by mid-rise apartments/condos, AT&T Park, and the newly developed campus of UCSF.  As the sea level, and bay level, rise, these parts will once again be underwater unless something is done in the next 100 years.

At some point we have to take the blinders off our eyes and admit that global warming is real.  Imagine, there are still people, often brainwashed by their preachers or politicians, who say they don’t believe in global warming.  Is it really that hard to believe when we already see proof around the world of the effect of the polar ice caps melting?  Only when we are able to face this problem head on will we be able to formulate long-term solutions and save the land through the use of levees and dykes.  If they could do it in new Orleans they can do it in San Francisco, but now is the time for action.  Ignorance at times may be bliss, but in this instance it is short-sighted, ludicrous, and dangerous.


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Filed under California, San Francisco, San Francisco History, San Francisco Living, San Francisco Nature, Uncategorized

Happy Anniversary

I recently celebrated an anniversary.  On the evening of August 22, 2009, I drove into San Francisco and began my love affair with this city.  It had been a long day of driving all the way from Portland, Oregon with a very shaky and upset kitty sitting beside me, stretching across my lap, laying on my shoulders, hiding under the seat, and snuggling up to my legs while I drove for ten hours.  To top it all off, I was stuck in miles of traffic trying to get across the Bay Bridge. We went out to eat at Saint Francis Cafe that evening, and then snuggled in our new loft to watch the stars through the skylights.

There have been ups and downs, trials and rewards, but overall San Francisco has been a great place to live.  It feels like home in a way that I have never felt before.  I am not a visitor here, and I am not out-of-place at all.  This city accepts everyone just they way they are.  I don’t know why anyone would want to leave here.

Here is to 2 years in San Francisco, and a hope and wish for many more to come.



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Filed under San Francisco Living, Uncategorized

San Francisco: Living on the Edge?

San Franciscans do not worry about tornadoes, hurricanes, massive flooding, damaging thunderstorms with destructive lightening, or ice and snow storms.  For the most part, the weather is very mild, and rarely dips below freezing.  Mother Nature leaves the tip of the peninsula alone and allows its residents to live in relative peace and calm.  Unfortunately, San Francisco is not totally exempt from disaster; there is always the threat of earthquake and the remote possibility of tsunamis.

One of the more powerful reminders of this underground threat occurred on October 17th, 1989 at 5:04 p.m. with the Loma Preita Earthquake.  The epicenter was near Aptos and did wide spread destruction to Santa Cruz and Watsonville, killing 67 people and damaging property in excess of six billion dollars throughout the Bay Area.  In the city, the earthquake caused a section of the upper deck of the Bay Bridge to fall onto the lower deck, demolished part of the 101 expressway, and lead to extensive damage in the Marina District.

At first people sighed relief thinking that they had just survived the dreaded “big one” that had been predicted for years, the one that is supposed to rival the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.  As scientists began to study this quake, they realized that this is not the catastrophic one that was predicted.  In fact, this one was fairly minimal when compared to the ones in the past and the predicted “big one” in the future.  For example, the 1906 Earthquake produced 30 times more energy and ten times more ground movement.  

In San Francisco, people don’t talk about if there is going to be a big earthquake, it is a matter of when the “big one” hits.  Everyone knows it is coming.  It will be bad.  It will be catastrophic.  It will change the way this city looks, feels, and operates, but it won’t be the end of the world.  Contrary to what some people think, San Francisco is not living so close to the edge that it is apt to fall into the ocean at the first sign of a substantial earthquake.  There will be no such dramatic event for the city in this lifetime.  An overwhelming majority will survive, clean up the mess, and rebuild.

This city has an unquenchable energy and vibe that continually powers its creativity and resiliency.  No matter what happens, people will continue to come here in order to freely love, create, and dream.  It has been, and always will be, the place for new beginnings and experiential living.  

“Somehow the great cities of America
Have taken their places in a mythology
that shapes their destiny:
Money lives in New York.
Power sits in Washington.
Freedom sips Cappuccino in a 
sidewalk cafe in San Francisco.”
– Joe Flower

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Filed under Bay Area Earthquake, San Francisco Living, San Francisco Poetry