HARD NOT TO BE IMPRESSED FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND FOREVER, BY A CITY SET IN SUCH A PLACE
Thirty-nine years ago, in 1984, Fran and I visited San Francisco for the very first time as newlyweds. This morning I explored, revisited, and attempted to improve some of the images I captured on that trip. There is an old photographic adage that every photograph over fifty years old is inherently interesting. I'm getting old, and let me tell you that these images from nearly four decades ago are pretty close to making that mark. They reveal both the timeless and the historic nature of one trip to the "city on the bay." They are not award-winners, but they are not half-bad either, and were improved immeasurably by a few minutes of post-processing forty years after the fact.
HUSTLE AND BUSTLE AND STRANGE STREET NAMES
Like most New Yorker's I immediately fell in love with the place after I got over the fact that it was clearly insane to have overlaid the street grid I was used to over a multitude of gigantic hills. The city was so clearly spectacular, seemingly familiar in it's density, but with enough quirks that even a newcomer could appreciate its charm. We stayed in an old-fashioned hotel with an elevator so small that we each had to go up separately with our bags. Then we were puzzled by the double-hung windows that seemed upside down - until we realized that since there were no bugs, hence no screens, that you could not be allowed to open the bottom sash a dozen flights up.
AND UNIQUE NEI9GHBORHOODS
We had a wonderful time, and looking back on it I remember how just plain lucky we were even though we had planned and planned the trip out, including trips North to the Wine Country. I had been a waiter in a wine bar for longer than I had been in architecture school, so I of course had to find some obscure wineries to tour. So after too much driving we ended up in a restaurant in the country, allowed to have lunch even though the crew was already having their staff meal at the next table. Without really knowing what we were doing, we had lunch at The French Laundry, soon to be one of the most famous restaurants in America. We had already somehow managed to eat at Chez Panisse, where no matter how much I was impressed by the food i was just amazed at the open kitchen twenty feet from our table, with no drama or cursing in evidence.
THE BEACH AT THE END OF THE WORLD, OR AT LEAST AT THE END OF THE "N JUDAH" TRANSIT LINE.
Fran had to deal with some architectural pilgrimages as well, which she was rather game for - after all she had married an architect, even though she had "known" what she was getting into, according to my best professor at school. So we climbed the step streets up the hills surrounding the Coit Tower, made famous by Armistead Maupin. We drove out to the Sea Ranch to view a resort that was just short of a cult retreat. I didn't have the guts to knock on the door and meet Charles Moore but it was still worth it. I did get to drive him back and forth to the airport a few years later, and the only famous architect that ever met turned out to be a very nice man.
THE MAIN CONDO BUILDING AT SEA RANCH
A WINERY VISIT - I THINK IT WAS "CLOS DE BOIS"
AN ORDINARY STREET IN THE SUNSET - BUT LOOK AT THOSE CARS! DAD, WHAT IS A MOVIE RENTAL?
All these years later a lot of water has run under the bridge in San Francisco, which is reputed to be in a "death spiral" even worse than Portland's. But i still wouldn't bet against it, since it has survived an earthquake, a dot.com boom and bust, a Great Recession, and a Pandemic since our first visit. Some of these images show how spectacular it was and still is, while others feel like historical artifacts. The street scenes are familiar, but look at those cars! The only one that I recognize as something that exists today is the old Volvo like the one that is parked around the corner from my bungalow.
I THOUGHT YOUR PEOPLE DIDN'T TRAVEL MUCH.
THE SAME GOOFY SMILE, BUT LOOK AT THOSE GLASSES!
The two young people pictured pretty much look the same - at least Fran does. My facial hair styling did not survive this trip, after one coffee cart barista declared that he hadn't thought that "my people" traveled that much. My Amish period was over. Fran looks the same, at least to me, but her hair is even longer. And look at those glasses - my hippy chick is still going strong!