San Francisco, California 08/2012 Click to enlarge
I am in love with San Francisco. It is full of beautiful victorian houses, maintained with incredible attention to detail.
A vast number of residential buildings is emblazoned with bright colours and intricate wooden panels. How do the owners manage to keep it up? In contrast to this, much of modern architecture looks incredibly boring.
This beauty is not limited to a few neighbourhoods, but can be found across the city.
I notice the many plants and the trusting way in which they are placed close to public space, accessible to anyone.
A mobile garden in a container on third Street. Fascinating!
As is typical for many American metropolises, the city is built almost 100% around car traffic. There are only very few bike lanes. Bicycling appears rather dangerous, and I see only few doing it, mostly young men.
Drivers are, however, very considerate towards pedestrians. If you enter a crossing, cars will stop instantly.
Haight Street stretches outward from the city center. You cam feel its special, legendary status as a hotbed of underground culture, even fifty years after the heyday of the Grateful Dead and other icons.
Walking towards Haight Ashbury, you see psychedelic shops, record shops, street art and more.
At the famous corner of Haight and Ashbury people will stand playing music almost around the clock, posing for tourists. The wall of an adjacent house is painted with a portrait of Jimi Hendrix.
Buena Vista park, a hill covered by majestic trees, is located between Lower Haight and Haight Ashbury. It is home to many birds, and squirrels fight in the trees.
The park has a great calm to it. The view spans across the city, but often doesn’t reach very far, due to the ubiquitous fog.
House fronts cover hidden gardens and backyards. What might lie there?
People in the city are so friendly and polite, it seems almost exaggerated. It is very easy to get in contact with people. A promising athmosphere for me. This is my first visit to the US. Are all Americans like this, or is it specific to San Francisco?
Downtown San Francisco is typical for an American city, with skyscrapers and lots of concrete. Countless people navigate the busy streets.
Further north, there are older, classical buildings, for example City Hall.
The bus takes me to Bernal Heights, a neighbourhood further south. Its center is Bernal Heights Summit, a hill with a beautiful overlook over the north of the city.
Bernal Heights is mainly a residential area. It has less of an artsy touch than the area around Haight-Ashbury; culture seems more “normal” and down to earth. Many Spanish names are visible in businesses.
I see many latinos, and Spanish is the main language in many shops.
Many birds live on the Summit; they find many hedges, trees, and other protected places there. I see a hummingbird – my first ever! It is tiny, fast, and has an incredibly long beak. Cool fog floats by not far away.
All over the city I see art - on shop signs and menus, walls, and so on. It doesn’t always reach me emotionally, but it’s great that it exists. Here, at 306 Church Street, a huge panopticum covers an entire wall.
In incredible detail, the mural shows the history of the neighbourhood from the beginning of the 20th century until today.
A third of the population is of asian descent, one fifth has Chinese roots. 40% were born abroad.
I wonder what it would be like to live here?! I’m very glad to be here.