Information / Sources, San Francisco
Well I founded one of someone else ....
Now seriously, I think it all began with some cows around Europe and San Francisco has hundreds of hearts around that after a year will be on auction. The money will go to Charity.
There were two that impressed me (and I nearly fell in love with 90% of them lol) one was this heart ....
I normally would not include a tip like this on my pages (unless it is a must in the location, like in Thailand), but there are times when I travel and appreciate a recommendation of a place to get a pedicure, so have included it here.
77 Maiden Lane definitely did exactly that. During one of my trips to San Francisco I wanted to do more of the pampering than I usually do when I visit this city and finding an excellent place to spend an hour having a pedicure surely did that.
My pedicurist was very attentive, careful to my needs and very friendly. She didn't chat me up too much, just enough to make me feel comfortable and relaxed.
The salon is a full service beauty center and an appointment is crucial.
Fondest memory: After some shopping, a pedicure was in order and I totally enjoyed my one hour of pampering.
Mind you, it isn't cheap, I paid $60 taxes included for my pedicure!!
The salon is located at 77 Maiden Lane.
U2 Beauty Health Center specializes in reflexology and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves to take care of their feet (of course I do!!) or who have tired and overworked feet (our 10 mile hike definitely falls under this catergory).
Reflexology is an excellent way to spend 50 minutes getting all those "kinks" out as well as relieving all the stress your poor feet endure day in and day out. But beware, it's a bit painful for those with low tolerance for pain as they really get in there and push those pressure points but you're feet will definitely be happy for it.
I think I paid about $33 plus $5 tip...cheap in my book for much needed pampering!
Fondest memory: 3940 Geary Boulevard
Hours - Open 7 days a week 10:00 am - 10:00 pm.
San Francisco is a food lover's paradise. The quality and competition among restaurants is so intense, that many restaurants have gala openings only to close down as the fad passes. The main trick is to get good service, extraordinary quality, and reasonable portions. Restaurants creating apparently artful but food wise stingy plates leave the patron feeling like a joke has been played on them. These are the restaurants that open up quickly for the tourist buck and then close down quickly when word gets around. Since reviews are so often stale, I recommend SFgate.com, which has timely updates, as well as a search engine by type of cusine and location in town. Just be careful to avoid finding a great restaurant out of town, as this database does include a few of these extra-Bay area restaurants too. This website also includes great uptodate articles about what else is happening around town in terms of food and entertainment.
San Francisco enjoys one of the purest municipal water systems in the United States. Originating as snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the precious liquid begins to flow as snowmelt and is collected in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. As a result of its pure origins, the City's water contains an extremely low amount of suspended particles.
In 2008, an executive order issued by the Mayor of San Francisco took effect that forbids City offices from purchasing bottled water. The purity of San Francisco's domestic water, combined with the various environmental considerations, especially in regard to the transportation of bottled water, was cited as his reasons for the action.
When in San Francisco, consider saving the world from manufacturing another plastic bottle and try the tap. Now if you are in a building with old lead pipes, let the water run for a few minutes or all bets are off. :)
Fondest memory: After most of the City burned following the 1906 Earthquake, San Francisco recognized the importance of securing a reliable source of water. Under the leadership of visionary City Engineer, Michael O'Shaughnessy, water rights were secured, a dam was designed, and the structure that eventually bore his name was constructed. Political opposition to the project existed, led by no other than the famed environmentalist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club. However, the City prevailed in the political and legal struggle and the dam was completed in 1923.
The O'Shaughnessy Dam blocked the Tuolumne River and flooded scenic Hetch Hetchy Valley. Hetch Hetchy valley was a beautiful valley formed by glacierial action. Now this valley lies beneath Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
The reservoir provides excellent quality water to 2.4 million Californians in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Alameda Counties, as well as some communities in the San Joaquin Valley. The dam also generates electricity for San Francisco. San Francisco benefits greatly form this source of electrical power. In addition to providing energy for many Californians, this hydroelectric source of power also propels the City's electric transit vehicles and lights the streets of the City.
However, a controversial political movement exists that desires to remove the dam and restore Hetch Hetchy Valley back to its original condition.
A BRIEF, SELECTIVE, AND OPINIONATED HISTORY OF SAN FRANCISCO
The Gold Rush
Very little exists of pre-Gold Rush San Francisco. Before news of the gold discovery at Sutter's Mill hit, San Francisco was a sleepy little town of about 2,000 or so, nestled around Yerba Buena Cove. In May of 1848, Sam Brannan rode his horse through Portsmouth Square, and, in an event almost equal to Paul Revere's ride, brought news of the gold strike at Sutter's Mill in the Sierra foothills, screaming "Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!." Within 2 years, SF's population went from 2,000 to 25,000; by 1860 it was 56,000, and by 1870 it had grown to 150,000.
San Francisco became synonymous with sin, and the Barbary Coast was a legendary vice district. Lawlessness was rampant, but vigilante groups (some of them formed by the previously mentioned Brannan himself) were a strong counterforce, and were largely successful in weeding out many of the more serious criminals. It's safe to say that San Francisco may not have become the city that it is without the efforts of these vigilantes.
San Francisco continued to grow and grow, taking its place among the great cities of the world. And then....WHAMMO!
The 'Big One' - 1906 earthquake and fire
It's hard to really grasp the significance of the 1906 earthquake these days, but I'd say it's easily in the top 5 worst disasters in American history. You have to remember that, at the time, San Francisco was by far the largest and most important city west of the Mississippi River (and would continue to be until surpassed by Los Angeles in the mid 1910's). It was the heart of the new west, and the earthquake utterly destroyed it, seemingly for good. But the city-folk proved to be a resourceful lot, and in seemingly no time at all San Francisco was back on its' feet.
Fondest memory: Contrary to the notion that the entire city was destroyed, there is still quite a bit of pre-1906 architecture to be seen and appreciated (I, in fact, live in a building that was built in 1886!). You just won't find much of it downtown, for obvious reasons. The exception is the Jackson Square Historic District, which was saved from the fire thanks mostly to the fact that it was right on the waterfront - a waterfront that was filled in long ago. Telegraph Hill (Coit Tower) also has some areas that were saved, and is home to some of the oldest existing homes in the City. And Alamo Square has an excellent concentration of pre-1906 architecture, including examples of nearly every late 19th century building style - including its famous row of Victorians.
One of the good aspects of the 1906 earthquake was that it greatly cleaned up the city; the vice dens of the Barbary Coast dwindled away, and San Francisco became more than just a port of call; it became home.
Fast Forward to the 60's
Ah... the 60's. First the beats, and then the hippies, made San Francisco synonymous with the Baby-Boom generation's coming of age.
Unfortunately, there isn't much remaining of the Beat Generation (except Lawrence Ferlinghetti), though there are some remnants of it left around North Beach.
The hippies? That's another story. The Haight/Ashbury is teeming with "Summer of Love" late-60's nostalgia, and some of you folks who were actually there might even find some pieces of the real thing (like the Dead House at 710 Ashbury) still in existence. For the most part, though, the Haight is more of a psychadelia-themed shopping mall than a real live expression of 60's counter-cultural values; indeed, the street kids that litter the Haight invoke more of the early-70's "hangover" days of the Haight, when speed was the drug of choice and the icky predator-types had driven out all semblance of 'peace' and 'love' from the area.
Right at the Powell Street Station, you will find the SFO visitors bureau (pic 1). Very helpful staff will help you with everything and give free maps etc They also see telephone cards.
Here you can buy the City Pass for $59. It will give you free ride for 7 consecutive days in trams, cable cars and buses all around the city. With the CityPass you will have free entrance at:Aquarium Of The Bay, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, SF Museum of Modern Art, California Academy of Science, Exploratorium, de Young and Legion of Honor Museum. Check www.sfmuni.com for information about the Muni system.
You may find useful the following buses:
Golden Gate Bridge: 28 or 29 bus
Fisherman's Wharf: 15, 30, F-line or 10 bus
Chinatown: 30, 45, 15, 1 California, 12 Pacific or Cable Cars
Union Square: 2, 3, 4, 30, 45, 38 Geary, Cable Cars, or any streetcar (F-Line)
Haight Ashbury: 6, 7, 33, 37, 43, or 71 bus
Cliff House/Seal Rocks: 18 bus or 38 Geary
Golden Gate Park: 71, or 5 Fulton, 21 Hayes, 33 Stanyan, 7 Haight, N. Judah, or 44 O' Shaughnessey
Moscone Convention Center: 15, 30, 45, 14 Mission, or 12 Folsom
We booked all our concert tickets from TicketMaster(http://www.ticketmaster.com/section/?tm_link=tm_homeA_changeloc_go)
But you also can check for upcoming concerts:
http://www.thebaybridged.com/local-concert-calendar/ (for SF and mostly independent music)
For the Alkatraz tour book in advance online otherwise you may cant get a ticket. Check here: http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/
Tipping is always confusing for me in USA, I usually give 10-15% in restaurants and $1 per order in pubs
At Pier 43 we saw the kiosk/stop(pic 2) of Motorized Cable Cars (Gray Line) that can also organize for you deluxe city tours, day trips to Sausalito or Wine Country, Yosemite Evening Tour and Bay Cruises. We didn’t use them but you can check their site: www.grayline.com/Grayline/destinations/us/sanfrancisco.go
We used Tower Tours (pic 3) because they have some nice city tours and other organised day trips like:
Grand City Tour ($47), San Francisco by night ($72), Muir Woods & Sausalito ($49), Wine Country($65), Monterey & Carmel($71), Yosemite($137) etc
We did the Winery Tour with them and we were 100% satisfied with them. They are located at 865 Beach Street at Ghirardelli Square but probably you can book through your hotel like we did and they will pick you up from your place. www.towertours.com
In calculating your daily food budget, remember to add 15-20% to your total.
In San Francisco, as in most of the U.S, the service is NOT included at restaurants. There are exceptions to this rule, but the exceptions are clearly stated on the menus. It is customary to tip a minimum of 15% of the cost of the meal (before taxes), but if you get excellent service or if you receive a complimentary dish, you should leave 18% to 20% or at least round up to the nearest dollar.
Most servers earn minimum wage and rely on the money they make on tips, so remember to be good to your waiter if your waiter has been good to you.
There is no set rule. I can only tell you what I do. I typically give a minimum of 15% and round up to the nearest $5. It’s so much easier this way. For example a $3.90 fare becomes $5.00, a $7.50 fare becomes $10, a $17.00 fare becomes $20.00 and so on. So, it’s more than 15%, but considering what these drivers make for a living, I don’t mind.
Remember to talk to your drivers. They are usually very friendly and helpful.
San Fran Music - 1976-1995
San Francisco music has never been about bands - it's been about "scenes." SF has been home to a wide variety of world renown music scenes through the years; the psychadelic rock/flower power scene of the late 60's - localized in the Haight/Ashbury - is only the most obvious example.
San Francisco also hosted one of the major punk rock scenes of the late 70's and early 80's, along with New York and, later, Los Angeles. The City's goth scene is legendary, and, although the heyday may be over, there is still a very sizable goth presence. The grunge scene of the late 80's and early 90's was rivaled only by the Northwestern cities, and SF's rave and house scene in the early to mid 90's was known around the world.
The Burning Man Festival - held every Labor Day weekend in the Black Rock Desert in NW Nevada - is, for all practical purposes, just another San Francisco scene. The festival was born on SF's beaches, and you can always tell the festival's over by the number of playa dust-encrusted jeeps driving around town!
The 'Pretty Big One' - Oct. 17, 1989
The 1989 earthquake may not have killed as many people, but it did a lot of damage to San Francisco's infrastructure, and one of the main reasons why trafffic is so terrible here is that the entire freeway system had to be torn down and rebuilt - replacing the old double-decker freeways with single-deck ones. Most of the damage has been fixed by now, but you'll still occasionally encounter the specter of the '89 shaker.
I was living in the Haight/Ashbury when it hit, and, although I'm pretty used to earthquakes by now, I hope to never go through that again; "terrifying" does not begin to describe it!
What does an earthquake feel like? It feels like a truck driving by your house, only longer. If you think you might be feeling an earthquake, look up; if the light fixtures are swinging, hold on! If not... then it probably was a truck.
Fondest memory: Recent history - The Dot-com boom and bust
While many people will speak fondly of the heady days of the "dot-com boom," it is now known that the whole thing was, essentially, a giant scam. The great economic boom of tech's first wave was largely smoke and mirrors, and that many of the so-called "tech entrepeneurs" were, in effect, virtual snake-oil salesmen, who saw an opportunity to get rich quick on gullible investors, and rode it for all it was worth. The wheels were liberally greased by the charismatic and venally corrupt Mayor Willie Brown, and hordes of bank-rolled neo-yuppies descended upon the city. Within a few years, rents doubled, then tripled, and the price of everything skyrocketed. Apartments were almost impossible to find at any price.
Most of these "techies" were, in fact, nothing but PR and sales people, more involved in convincing investors they had something of value than actually, well... producing anything of value. By 2000, the investment economy had wised up, and pulled the rug out en-masse. As hundreds of pseudo-companies folded (many of them abandoning their offices under cover of night), the rats deserted the sinking ship, heading back home to nurse the hangover. And, while most San Franciscans would miss the money these folks spent like water, the truth was that most of us were not sad to see them go.
Unfortunately, the damage had been done. A great many of the people who made up San Francisco's art scene - writers, artists, and especially musicians - were forced to leave town or work 3 jobs just to survive. In this Faustian bargain, the City had lost a big piece of its soul.
San Francisco is still a magical place, but its' best days - at least in the short term - are behind it. Maybe this is a good thing; good that the concentration of artistic talent has spread out a bit, bringing some of the magic to other places. I have no doubt that someday my city will again be the cool place it used to be. Maybe you can help it along!
This may not appeal much to the average tourist, but a great resource of San Francisco history is the SF Public Library's "San Francisco History Center," - located on the 6th floor of the main library in Civic Center Plaza.
The 6th floor contains 3 public areas: an exhibit area (shown here displaying prints from Dorothea Lange's Mt.Tam days), a rare book room, and a history room containing lots of really cool stuff. Most of it is stuff like archives of San Francisco literary publications going back to the Gold Rush days, but they also have an extensive collection of reference materials regarding the City's famous architecture.
The Center is also the official archives for the City of San Francisco.
This is not going to appeal to most travelers, but if you are doing research on San Francisco history or are into that sort of thing, it's worth a visit. It's free, and the Asian Art Museum is right next door if you're looking to bundle attractions.
Fondest memory: click here for the SF History Center website
San Francisco covers the tip of a 30mile
(50km) peninsula in Northern California, with the
Pacific Ocean on its western side and the San Francisco
Bay to the north and east. San Francisco is just one
of many cities in the Bay Area; others include Oakland
(east across the Bay Bridge), Berkeley (north of Oakland)
and San Jose (an hour's drive southeast of San Francisco,
near the southern tip of the bay). Marin County and the
Wine Country lie to the north, across the Golden Gate
The Bay Area has three major airports. San Francisco
International Airport is on the bay side of the Peninsula,
14 miles south of the city center. The city of Oakland, at
the eastern end of the Bay Bridge, has its own airport 8
miles south of downtown. San Jose International Airport,
at the southern end of the bay, is a few miles north of
downtown San Jose and one hour drive from San Francisco.
For a nice illustrated, paperback travel guide to the City: 'Eyewitness Travel Guide to San Francisco and Northern California (revised)' by Linda Williams. Here's a sample page from this book. (Click to enlarge.) Most of your touristing in this City will be in the Districts highlighted on this sample page: Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Marina, Presidio, Golden Gate Park. With this book, you'll know the City better than most natives. This book will orient you to the City's colorful history, culture and landscape.
Fondest memory: I survived the earthquake of 1989. Oh, and about that earthquake of 1906, the history can be found online (copy & paste this in your browser) http://quake.usgs.gov/info/1906
Favorite thing: Starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, this movie does a fairly accurate and highly acclaimed portrayal of the life and death of San Francisco's first gay supervisor, Harvey Milk. Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Moscone, who was also killed by former supervisor Dan White (who later committed suicide after release from jail), Harvey Milk, and others the San Francisco gay community has become an established part of the city community. Their martyrdom also spurred the movement for gay rights in the USA and throughout the world. Go to Milk for more information on the movie, or History of Harvey Milk
Favorite thing: I can't understand why a city like San Francisco can't arrange for undergroung parking in its most touristy places. At the Embarcadero, where thousands of tourists flock all year, they have this huge parking eye-sore across the street.