Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve

Skyline view from Sutro Forest

At first I was a little ashamed that I’d never been in the forest on Mount Sutro, officially known as the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, even after living in the city for almost 14 years. But, after asking around, I discovered most of my long-time-resident friends haven’t been there either. So now it’s their turn to feel ashamed. (More after the jump.)
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1962: SAVE the BAY AREA from CHOKING to DEATH (with BART)!

BART Proposition A 1962, courtesy Prelinger Library

My favorite bit from this scan of an original flyer in support of Proposition “A”: “All statements in this leaflet are accurate and factual.” That reassuring disclaimer apparently made this passage adequately persuasive:

Who endorsed Proposition “A”? Taxpayer’s groups… labor… doctors, lawyers, merchants, housewives, educators, Republicans, Democrats – everybody who wants a prosperous Bay Area. Opposition? Scattered, local, self-interested.

Indeeeed. The proposition required a district-wide 60% “yes” to pass; it got 61.2%, with the help of folks who cynically voted for it even though they wanted, and expected, it to fail. More after the jump…
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Nice Color Scan of San Francisco Map circa 1907 Showing Fire Line and Cemeteries

1905 Map of San Francisco

This map (courtesy, Prelinger Library) is a good way to visualize how much of the city burned after the earthquake/fire of 1906. It of course led to the building of refugee camps around the city, including in Mission (now “Dolores”) Park.

Here’s a blow-up of the cemetery locations:

1905 Map of San Francisco, Cemeteries

Simply Hilarious (and Infuriating): BART Imaginings, 1957

BART plans, 1957

That’s right, the original plans recommended “first stage” service past Palo Alto to the south, and across the Bay to San Rafael to the north! I wonder how many stages ago that was?

Maybe they should have drafted up some counterfeit money with which to pay for this pipe dream. (Even a tiny fraction of this fantastical scheme is itself worth much higher fares year after year, it seems.)


Death & Sodomy in San Francisco

Death & Sex in San Francisco

I can’t even recall how I Googled my way onto this book review – by a psychiatrist, of a pathologist’s published work – but mercy me, how about this little nugget:

Many original contributions to forensic medicine were made by physicians associated with the Coroner’s Office and UCSF, including the “most unique” discovery that death by air embolism could occur with cunnilingus when air was blown into the vagina.

Was that an important move back in the day? Yikes.

Needless to say, I’m trying to get my twisted little hands on this gem of a book as I type. If anyone has seen it, please hit the comments.

It looks like Amazon only has links to used copies of the book: San Francisco Coroner’s Office: A History, 1850-1980.

Rick Prelinger’s Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 4

Rick Prelinger, Prelinger Archives, Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 4

“Guerrilla archivist” Rick Prelinger is once again joining forces with the Long Now Foundation for the 4th in his series of screenings titled, “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco.” More after the jump…
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Film of Steam Locomotives on the Embarcadero, San Francisco, circa 1920s-30s

Came across this file randomly while browsing the Prelinger Archive, which I haven’t done in a while. The footage of longshoremen jockeying cargo on and off ships is a swift check on romanticism and a concrete reminder that, even long ago, industry on a mass scale was what drove almost all of our activity.

I logged a few of the bits that really stood out to me:

  • 3:00 – Steam locomotives navigating Market Street, and cruising along the Embarcardero.
  • 5:00 – Cool aerial footage; Ferry Building with street cars on a circular track in front and a heavy rail locomotive waiting (loading?) on the left; Golden Gate Ferries.
  • 6:50 – I believe this is a quick shot of Dolores Street.
  • 7:40 – Funky, animated relief maps of the area and trade routes, points of interest.
  • 8:55 – Aerial footage of downtown, City Hall and Golden Gate Park.
  • 10:45 – Aerial of the western side of the city; Golden Gate Park, including the bandshell area.

Related book: Historic Photos of San Francisco
From Amazon
From Powell’s

The Stewardship of Precita Creek


Make no mistake: Artist and self-styled “greenbelt steward” Amber Hasselbring, pictured above (pointing) along with her field-guide-clutching partner in crime (and fellow artist), Iris Clearwater, is just as enthusiastic inspecting manhole covers like the one next to her, as she is identifying a native butterfly or monkey flower. More after the jump…
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Fantastic 1958 Film Footage of San Francisco

San Francisco 1958 from Jeff Altman on Vimeo.

A film colorist at a local Chicago production house inherited a bunch of 16mm Kodachrome film shot in the late ’50s by his grandparents.

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Cars driving down Lombard Street. The silhouette of the guy smoking the cigar in the window is classic. I also like the moody accompanying music.

UPDATE: A commenter at Boing Boing informs that the song is “Alone in Kyoto” by Air.

Related book: Historic Photos of San Francisco
From Amazon
From Powell’s

Turn On The Pumps!


If you think the streets are bad after today’s downpour, you should see what’s going on underneath the streets.

San Francisco has an antiquated sewer system, but with a “green” twist. It’s the only community in California that operates a predominantly “combined” system, which means our wastewater and our stormwater flow through the same pipes to the ocean/Bay. More after the jump…
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Lobos Creek & Mountain Lake


Fed by the same aquifer, but not directly connected, these bodies of water are special parts of the San Francisco watershed near the Presidio.

More after the jump…
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Indian Occupation of Alcatraz 40th Anniversary


Although the Miwoks were convinced it was an island of evil spirits, barren and guano-coated, it’s still pretty badass to think that a group led by Mohawk Richard Oakes tried to reclaim Alcatraz in 1969. They took a boat into the bay, jumped onto The Rock, and claimed it by right of discovery, declaring:

The choice now lies with the leaders of the American government – to use violence upon us as before to remove us from our Great Spirit’s land, or to institute a real change in its dealing with the American Indian. We do not fear your threat to charge us with crimes on our land. We and all other oppressed peoples would welcome spectacle of proof before the world of your title by genocide.

Celebrities like Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda joined the cause and a colony was founded, but it sank toward defeat when Oakes’ 13-year old stepdaughter Yvonne fell to her death.

CounterPULSE will host a talk to commemorate this bold act of defiance by the “Red Power” movement, on Wed., Nov. 11, 7:30pm. It’s free.

Dolores Park: Refugee Camp

Tam Tran is awesome.
Tam Tran is awesome.

Today I took advantage of the fantastic free walking tour organization, SF City Guides. It’s officially a part of the Public Library (the guides are all volunteers) and has an interesting history of its own. I decided to take as my inaugural tour one that covers my neighborhood.

More details and photos after the jump…
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The Attempted Homicide of a Sanctuary

Photo by David Erickson

UPDATE 4/14/2010: Via Matt Baume, from StreetsBlog:

The PUC … proposes to terminate the creek in a manufactured wetland at the western end of Islais Creek Channel. The area is currently an asphalt lot just down the street from the headquarters of Mythbusters, used occasionally to store vehicles.

This would be a fantastic and appropriate honor for this spot. (And there is still more than just asphalt here!)

Once upon a time in 2001, there was a tiny plot of shoreline, Muwekma Ohlone Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, named after the native people who once populated the San Francisco peninsula. Guerrilla gardeners had, for years, nurtured this vestige of unlikely marshland amidst the industrial zone near Hunters Point.

More after the jump…
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