Category Archives: West Coast

Native Americans in San Francisco

Raymond Dabb Yelland, Lands End, San Francisco, CA

As with the rest of the United States, we are not the first to inhabit this peninsula.  The first  people to call this home, at least the first as far as we can tell, were the Native Americans.  Imagine if you will a San Francisco composed of sand dunes, marshes, and wetlands.  A place of relative peace and calm which migrating birds often called home during at least some part of the year.  The swamps were rich with life and clean, truly clean, water was abundant.  This of course was before the gold miners of 1849 dumped large quantities of mercury into the streams and rivers.

This virtual paradise was inhabited by many, many tribes which appear to have gotten along in relative peace.  Each tribe, numbering from 40 – 400 had a territory where they hunted, fished, and collected all that they needed.  The area was so rich in resources that the tribe’s needs were easily satisfied.

It is estimated that around 17,000 Native Americans called the bay area home for many centuries, possibly even dating back to a time long ago when the shores of San Francisco started at the Faralon Islands and the bay was a beautiful meadow.  Some of the tribe names are listed below:

Yelamu Tribe – San Francisco area

Humen Tribe – Marin area

Huchium Tribe – Oakland area

Aramai Tribe – Daly City area

Urebure Tribe – San Bruno area

What will the bay area look like in 1,000 or 2,000 or even 3,000 years?  Will the future inhabitants remember us?  What will they think our name was and how will these future historians think that we lived?  Let your imagination go for just a moment, and imagine that they are actually alien archeologists studying the earth and trying to figure out its past and how people lived and survived in San Francisco during the early 21st Century.

Cheers!

Mike

Source:  Infinite City:  A San Francisco Atlas, by Rebecca Solnit (If you are into San Francisco history, you need to buy this book.)

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Filed under San Francisco, San Francisco History, West Coast

May Flowers

Golden Gate Park 3.27.11   5
Golden Gate Park 4.10.11 B
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Filed under San Francisco Nature, West Coast

Macy’s 2011 Flower Show: San Francisco

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 6

Every year people flock to the Macy’s store in Union Square to view the real floral displays and breath in the wonderful scents.  To many, this is a ritual that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.  This year’s event occurred on March 27th – April 10th, and it included a Zen, rooftop, and enchanted garden.  In addition, the floral designers created a walk through the tropical rainforest.

If you missed this year’s event, don’t worry.  Just keep an eye out for it next year and welcome spring in with a San Francisco tradition that has been around for 65 years.

Happy Easter!

Mike

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 4

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 13

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 18

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 19

S.F. Macy's Flower Show 20

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Filed under California, San Francisco Entertainment, San Francisco Festivals, San Francisco Nature, San Francisco Pictures, San Francisco Tourist, West Coast

Spanish Footprint in San Francisco

Gaspar de Portola

San Francisco, and California, used to be under Spain’s rule.  During this time, several well known explorers were sent up the coast from San Diego in order to explore this area and chart any features that would make it conducive to settlement and commerce.  Several of these founders are honored in San Francisco in the following ways:

  • Portola Drive and the Portola District:  This section of town is named after the never married Gaspar de Portola, the Spanish Explorer that discovered the San Francisco Bay Area.  Because of the fog and the small opening into the bay, sea captains had passed by for many years without ever knowing of the great possibilities that existed in this area.
  • Angel Island Cove:  Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala was the first European to actually sail through the Golden Gate, and he set about naming several of the places around the bay. Ayala Cove on Angel Island is named after him.
  • Alcatraz (Isla de Alcatraces): This now famous island was named by Ayala, and it means the “island of pelicans.”
  • Sausalito (Saucelito): This trendy area of the bay was also named by Ayala, and it means “little thicket of willows.” 

Spain had control of this new land for many years, but lost the West Coast when Mexico became independent in 1821.  It was at this point that Mexican rule came to this part of the country, and a time of relative prosperity began as this area saw more and more settlers.  The then named village of Yerba Buena became part of the United States in the 1840’s as a result of the Mexican/American War.  Shortly after that, the area was renamed San Francisco.

Cheers!

Mike

Source:  Historic San Francisco:  A Concise History and Guide.  by Rand Richards

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Filed under San Francisco, San Francisco History, San Francisco Tourist, West Coast

I Spy Waldo!

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Where’s Waldo?

I took a holiday on Monday and decided to go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).  I could definitely do an entire post or two about that experience, but I will save the visit for a later time.  If you haven’t been, I would encourage you to go.

While I was walking across the sky bridge on the 5th floor and heading to the rooftop sculpture garden, I looked out a wall of windows and found Waldo standing among the air conditioning units on the top of a nearby building.  It reminds me of that quote by Oscar Wilde, “It is an odd thing, but every one who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco.”

San Francisco, I love your quirkiness.

Cheers,

Mike

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Filed under California, Entertainment, San Francisco Tourist, West Coast

Historical Saturday: State Politics

California State Flag

 As most of you know, Jerry Brown beat Meg Whitman for the governor’s seat last Tuesday.  Some of you may know that he served as governor from 1974-1982.  During his two terms in office, he was know as a very frugal and almost penny pinching politician.  Instead of moving into the newly built governor’s mansion, he sold it saying that the upkeep was an expense he didn’t expect the people of California to bear.  In addition, he didn’t drive around in a chauffeured limousine, but instead drove himself in a regular sedan.  California had one of the highest budget surpluses during his tenure as governor.

What I find most interesting is that he followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a politician.  Jerry’s father, “Pat” Brown,” started his work career at the age of 12 when he sold Liberty Bonds on the street corners of San Francisco.  After high school, he paid his way through law school by working in his father’s cigar shop.  Eventually he served two terms as governor from 1958 to 1966 when he lost the re-election to Ronald Reagan.  He married his wife Bernice (daughter of a San Francisco police captain) in 1930 and had four children that were all born in San Francisco.   

Say what you will about the Browns, but the fabric of this state is woven with some of the contributions from this political family.  Living in a city where everyone seems to be from somewhere else, it always amazes me to hear of people who were raised in the bay area or someone whose family has been here for generations.

Seeing the Brown family makes me wonder if we will ever see any of the Schwarzenegger kids in office someday.  Their mother, Maria Shriver, comes from the Kennedy clan, and their father has already shown his commitment to the state by serving seven years.  Unlike their father, the Scharzenneger kids could even aspire to the office of president because they are naturally born citizens.  I could be wrong of course, but it is something to watch for.  We are seeing more and more examples of how not just one, but several members of particular families are running for office.  Kennedy. Bush. Clinton. Brown.

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Filed under Historical Saturdays, San Francisco, San Francisco Tourist, West Coast

New Toll Charges lead to Greener Living.

Please follow the link below to read the article:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/07/29/MN1R1EL9I0.DTL

It speaks for itself, but I wanted to note a couple of things.  First of all, since the toll charges were increased, 6,199 fewer drivers cross the Bay Bridge everyday.  This means that the traffic on the Bay Bridge moves twice as fast as it did last year.  Since I travel the Bay Bridge almost every weekday to work, this is something that I have definitely noticed.

Another interesting point is that 1,500 additional people are riding the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) each day.   This means less pollution and a greener way of life.  This is a win/win situation.  The transportation department gets their money because of the increased tolls, but there are less people crowding the roadways and more people taking public transportation.

San Francisco’s next fee hike may have a similar effect.  They are putting smart meters into Hayes Valley.  Basically, these meters judge how busy the street is and raise the fee or lowers it based on demand.  Also, they are attached to a phone application so people who are looking for a parking space can find one quicker.  There is some speculation that people may use public transportation or alternative forms of transportation that would be more environmentally friendly to get to their favorite restaurant in Hayes Valley.  Only time will tell.

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Filed under Environment, San Francisco, West Coast

Earthquake/Fire, 1906

I’ve been reading about the San Francisco’s earthquake and fire in 1906. The earthquake was about an 8.0 and it occurred at 5:12 a.m. on April 18th. The quake did an extreme amount of damage, but the fires that followed the quake are what devastated the city. These fires started for many reasons, but recently I was shocked to find out that the fire department and the homeowners were to blame for a great deal of the destruction.

With the fire chief having died in the quake, the “stand in” chief decided to use dynamite to make fire breaks throughout the city. This not only destroyed many buildings, but it also sparked many fires. Honestly, they did the best they could in that situation. I wonder if things would have been different if the fire chief had lived through the quake.

Another surprising thing is that the homeowners started fires in their own houses. Many of the residents of San Francisco did not have earthquake insurance, so word got around quickly that unless the structure is destroyed by fire, the insurance would not pay for the repairs. In order to get help for repairs, homeowners started their houses on fire which contributed to the inferno that destroyed San Francisco.

Could this happen today? Yes! I doubt that they will use dynamite again, but homeowners setting fire to their property is definitely a possibility. According to the California Earthquake Authority, only 12 percent of people in California have earthquake insurance. In San Francisco, a large majority (80 to 90 percent of the buildings) do not have earthquake insurance. Because of the expense of this type of insurance, most people instead pay for retrofits for their homes and pray the reinforcement will work. Just like in 1906, everyone has fire insurance, but few have earthquake insurance.

I think we are setting ourselves up for another fire storm when catastrophe strikes again in the San Francisco area. But, I can’t really dwell on that. In fact, I tell myself that it won’t happen while I am here. Is this delusional or just a way to cope with a possible threat that I have no control over? If it does happen, I am convinced that I will be the Molly Brown of San Francisco.

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Filed under California, San Francisco, West Coast

Working from Home

When I moved to the West Coast, I was immediately introduced to a delightful concept called “working from home.” It is amazing how many people do this on a regular basis. Some people work from their house, while others go to coffee shops, libraries, the park, etc. More and more co-working spaces are sprouting up all over San Francisco as people want an office environment closer to home.

When I got my job (29 mile commute across the Bay Bridge to the East Bay), I negotiated with them the ability to work from home from time to time. Working from home has taught me the following things:

* More time. To drive to Contra Costa County and back takes a minimum of 2 hours a day and can take up to 3 hours depending on traffic. Yes, it is only 29 miles, but I have to cross the Bay Bridge and go through Caldecott Tunnel.

* Saves money. On top of gas (Toyota Tundra), I also have to pay $6 each day to get across the Bay Bridge and back into the city. I figure I save around $18 a day by working from home.

* Efficient. I get more work done when I work from home. Every day a portion of my day is spent socializing with volunteers and staff. This is actually part of my job. When I work from home, I can just focus on paperwork, stats, mailings, returning phone calls, etc.

* Relaxing. At the end of the day when I shut my laptop, I do not face a grueling commute home. It is a stress free day.

* Contact. I do stay in close contact with the office. They can call me, text me, e-mail me, etc. I have several different ways that they can get in touch with me in an emergency. Recently, I was working from home and they needed something done quickly. With the help of my trusty laptop, the phone, and a good Internet connection, I got the task done with time to spare. Who needs an office?

* Work Space. My favorite work spaces are coffee shops like Sugar Lump Coffee Lounge in Outer Mission or Jumpin Java in Castro. One space that I frequent a lot is Panera Bread in SOMA.

Working from home is a wonderful gift that employers can give to their employees. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but it feels great to do it occasionally. I think it makes for a happier and more productive work force.

Now if you would excuse me, I have a report to work on that I will present at a meeting next week. Before I start, I should probably order another Panera Bread bagel and refill my tea.

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Filed under California, Human Nature, Oregon, San Francisco, West Coast