Thursday, July 14, 2011

In the Place of Tall Buildings

Day 6 - The Black Sword in the City of Saint Francis


I have to be honest. E.F. and I had almost.... almost too much of a good time last night and I partly paid for it this morning. To thank him for letting me crash at his place and explore The City, I took him to wonderful restaurant and bar known as Absinthe in the Hayes Valley area. The food was delicious and I had one of the best Uptown Manhattan drinks I've ever had. But, you know there's always a 'but' in there, he took me to this literally hidden treasure of a bar called Smuggler's Cove. Wow. They specialize in rum drinks so I ordered a Naval Grog. Oh my... I think if anyone had lit a match around me I'd have been like a flame thrower at close quarters. To make a long story short, we slowly walked home and crashed for tomorrow. Thank goodness I had finished my blog for yesterday already.

Today I find myself in Downtown and the Financial District. E.F. gave me some reading material on the architecture of the area as a kind of self-guided tour of the most prominent buildings in San Francisco's past. So far as of this writing, I've visited and photographed the Wells Fargo/Crocker Center building, 111 Sutter Street, the Crown Zellerbach Paper Co. building at One Bush Street, and the Hobart Building on Market. Some of the examples of building in The City are impressive. The Wells Fargo one was actually cut down by several stories and a rooftop garden open to the public was put in it's place; really cool public space with a cool view. Several of the places I couldn't photograph inside because of security. A shame but I understand the need for security and privacy of clients in the buildings. I'll make sure to post them all on Facebook as soon as I can.

About 11:15 rolls around and I get a text message from Angie reminding me that she and the Seans are going to be having lunch today in San Francisco at the same Absinthe restaurant E.F. and I ate at last night. I catch the #5 bus up Market to McAllister and Gough then walk the couple of blocks to the restaurant where they are waiting for me. I'm starting to get my walking feet under me finally after about a week of walking everywhere. We have a delightful lunch and try a couple different absinthes than I am used to. Interestingly enough, the locally produced absinthe from St. George's Spirits is really good and smooth. I don't have much to eat as I only just got done eating breakfast at Eddie's Cafe up on Divisadero so I order an appetizer and a great brown ale. My friends wanted to specifically have lunch at this place since their calendar project involves a shoot of a Green Fairy ( which is the slang for absinthe) and the webmaster for the restaurant had 'liked' their project. Monkey brought the manager a poster, post card, and other stuff to the restaurant as a thank you for their support.

When we part I head back Downtown on the #5 bus again, get off at Montgomery and head up to catch my next building at 100 Sutter Street called The Shell Building. I turn down Sutter on the wrong side of the street and realize that I need to sit down and write. Taking the opportunity, I duck into this place called Bread and Cocoa on the corner of Sutter and Kearny to grab a drink, sit, and catch up on the blog... And here we are so far. I need to mention that the young staff here are just a great bunch. They are friendly, bubbly even, and just fun to talk to when they aren't slammed with customers. That is one of the sort of down sides to this part of The City is this almost frenetic pace that everyone seems to be in. I find it both exhilarating but also a bit impersonal and tiresome. It's meeting the people in the shops that seems to make it all worth it.


It's about 1:30 p.m. when I get back to my architectural scavenger hunt in the Downtown/Financial District of S.F. I'm only about half way through my list of buildings so I get right to it. Before I leave the little shop, I realize that I'm gonna need to take a couple ALEAVE even though I don't want to. I've been trying to take it easy in my walking but the arch of my right foot is just starting to get annoyingly painful unless I slow way down and there is just too much to see in this place to do that. So, I suck it up and keep truckin'.

Next stop is supposed to be just across the street. It's the Hallidie Bldg. At 130 Sutter Street. I walk on down, seem to miss the address, mistake one building for it, cross the street, and sure enough, it's completely covered for restoration work... Great. At least the building NEXT to it seems just as interesting but I'll have to wait until the work is done to see it and who the he'll knows when that's gonna be. OK, check that one now what's next?

The list has 100 and 130 Bush Street next. Hmm, I wonder if they are right next to each other? So, off I go. I arrive to find I'm right. But the two buildings are way cool in their own ways. 130 Bush is termed the "Narrow Building" and when you see it you might be tempted to either giggle or just say, "Cool!" at how it looks. The guide states, " 20 feet wide, 10 stories, Gothic revival, 80 feet deep. One of the narrowest buildings in San Francisco. Originally a garment manufacturing building... Converted to offices in 1929."

The address next door is much more majestic and when you see the ornamentation near the apex of the building you understand why. Called The Shell Building for obvious reasons it was the last of the great Art Deco buildings to be constructed in San Francisco and was finished in 1929. Sepia-colored terracotta skin with jutting projections of shells at the apex of the building, man this is really cool. I jet over to the interior and ask the security if the building allows interior photographs... Sadly, no because the interior is guilder in golden art deco shells and other adornments which are great examples of the style of the time.

I head back to Montgomery and my other important but much more modern building which I've been next to before but not in decades... The Trans-America Pyramid. The building is a bit overwhelming but what is almost the prettiest part of the place is the public park that is at the base of the place located about the middle of the block. The park has a great grove of Redwoods with a pool and fountain that has bronze sculptures of jumping frogs in various poses. The park has lots of space to sit and nice built-in benches and in typical San Francisco fashion there is a plaque commemorating two beloved dogs of the area in the 1860's named Bugger and Lazarus. I'm a dog lover and thought that was especially cool.

But mentioning dogs at that point, well, my dogs are especially tired as well from all the exploring of the past six days. The arch of my right foot is just not gonna be able to explore any more... Time to make my way to Market and the #5 bus and some rest time. I slowly trudge down Kearny to Market, bop onto the bus, put in the ear phones, and zone out for the remainder of the trip. The bus hits my stop at Pierce and McAllister and I abuse my feet just enough to get in the door and put them up.... and fall into a much needed nap. Ahhhh. Rest. What a concept.

Tonight, when E.F. gets here, we'll see what's up for the remainder of the day and evening...

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