30 April, 2010

Forgotten Fountain

I've walked by this rather clumsy looking fountain many times over the years. It's just below Ghirardelli Square across from Aquatic Park. This time I stopped to read the information on a small plaque next to the fountain. A bell went off and I remembered coming across a photo of a similar object in the Mission District years ago. At the time I wondered what had happened to it. As it was no longer in its original location, I figured it had been scrapped as a bit of "useless" old street furniture.
Turns out that the Aquatic Park fountain is the SAME ONE featured in the old picture. How it made its way here is probably lost to history. It's known as the Mariani Fountain and was originally located in front of Mr. Mariani's hardware store at 23rd and Florida in the Mission. The original caption on the 1957 photo states,
"Not for sale is this original 82 year-old Mission fountain, owned by Walter A. Mariani, long-time hardware merchant. The City wants it for a bridle path on Sunset Blvd. Mrs. Amanda Rivera poses beside the relic."
I guess The City eventually got its fountain and, although it didn't end up on a bridle path (!) on Sunset Blvd, it's a bit forlorn in its present location. It's filled with some mucky water and a cigarette butt or two. I really like how it has a basin for horses, pooches (or other close-to-the-ground creatures) and humans. I would hazard a guess that few horses drink from Mr. Mariani's fountain, let alone humans. Yet, it's still here after 135 years and that's definitely something.

25 April, 2010

The Big 100

As I was working on this latest posting , I happened to notice that it's my 100th addition to this blog. For anyone who knows of my, decidedly undeveloped, skills in the realm of stick-to-itiveness, it's quite a revelation. I suppose I should devote this post to some great over-arching statement or theme, but I'm at a loss for what that might be. It'll come to me eventually and I'll wax philosophically at some future date, I'm sure. In the meantime, I want to encourage people to visit the Crown Jewel of the Bay Area's parks: Point Reyes National Seashore. I've been exploring the park for years and I still have my breath taken away by its incredible and varied beauty. Limantour beach is unrivaled for shear gorgeousness, wildness and scale by few beaches in the world, but not one, to my knowledge, is so close to a major city. AND you can pretty much have the place to yourself on a weekday. From thousands of feet in the air, when I'm arriving home from overseas, at the end of a 14 hour flight, it's the sight that thrills me most and makes me happy that I live here. The Great Beach to the north is 11 miles of undeveloped beauty that Southern Californians can only dream of (they have perfectly beautiful beaches down South, they just happen to have far too many McMansions glowering over them).
Of course, it's just one place in this very large National Park. Everyone has their favorite spot. You could spend weeks exploring and never run out of adventures. I had the pleasure of strolling down the 309 stairs to the lighthouse last weekend (and the chore of hiking back up 309 stairs). The color of the ocean was incredible and the view of the Farallon Islands was unmatched (a woman next to me asked her companion, jokingly I hope, if they were the Hawaiian Islands). Even the lichen was amazing!
Adjacent to the Park Visitor Center, Earthquake buffs can check out the earthquake trail at what was the epicenter of the 1906 'quake and, on the way to the lighthouse, oyster fans can eat their fill at the oyster farm. Of course, there's Drake's Bay, where pirate, adventurer and all-around swashbuckling guy, Sir Francis Drake dropped anchor in 1579 and claimed this part of the world for England. He called it New Albion; we don't.

15 April, 2010

Music Concourse Makeover

Now that the De Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences have settled into their new and very popular homes, the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park is nearing the end of its decade-long makeover.
The Spreckels Temple of Music is finally free of scaffolding, missing trees have been replaced, paths repaved, new benches and lighting installed and the fountains are in the process of restoration. The area looks better than it has in many years. The concourse was originally constructed as the site of the 1894 California Mid-Winter Exposition. There are are couple of statues from the fair in their original locations and, of course, the two concrete sphinges (yes, that's the plural for sphinx) that originally guarded the entrance to the first De Young Museum (see top photo, demolished in 1929).
It's a very civilized spot and there's nothing like sitting under the elms on one of the green benches and enjoying a book or conversation (with a willing partner, of course).

07 April, 2010

History Revealed

This little Noe Valley cottage on Church Street has been exposed to public view since the (not very interesting) building in front of it was recently demolished . It's probably well over 100 years old and it looks it. Unfortunately, little out-buildings like this are seldom well documented historically. It could be the oldest building around. It could have been occupied by a former '49er (as in 1849). It could be a tool shed.

01 April, 2010

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (sort of)

Adjacent to the the construction site for the new, and somewhat controversial, Chinatown Campus of San Francisco City College on Washington Street near Kearny is this very well-preserved advertisement. It will probably remain well-preserved because it's about to be covered up for a very long time by a building of the new campus. It will be re-discovered someday when they rip down the building it's painted on or something collapses in the Big One. It's too bad that we can't find some way of preserving these survivors while acknowledging the need for growth in The City. Who knows, maybe City College will have a big glass wall on that side of the building that would allow students to fantasize about smoking a little Bull Durham while soaking in a bath that affords both Hot and Cold running water. Not likely.