Walk of Fame. The other face of Hollywood: crowded, touristy, conspicuous, of dubious aesthetics. Star spotting. Walking in their (famous) shoes becomes tiresome after a while. Spider-man. Chewbacca. Chinese Theatre. La La Land.
2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the legendary San Francisco Summer of 1967 and the city celebrated it with a number of events, among which The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll at the de Young Museum. We passed up the exhibition because it ran along the same lines as the Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture, on show at MAD in New York City, only a few months earlier.
But we could not, nor did we ever want to, let this slightly bonkers je ne sais quoi, San Francisco’s very own particular character formed throughout its fifty-year long trip from bohemia to hipsteria, from liberation to gentrification, go unnoticed. Love was (still) in the air this Summer of 2017 and we were ready to embrace it. Because, as another American legend rightly said:
”Ultimately you can listen to only one thing, not your president, not your many misguided leaders, save a few… You must listen to your own heart and do what it dictates. Because your heart is the only thing which can tell you what is right and what is wrong.” – Joan Baez, 1965
Not only it is host to some of the steepest streets on this side of the Atlantic, but also to some of the crookedest. Lombard Street on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, is so steep that it was deemed too dangerous for vehicles to just drive through. Thus its transformation into a switchback with eight sharp turns – so sharp and steep, I thought every household in San Francisco should, by default, include a shrine devoted to the genius who invented automatic transmission.
Beautiful, romantic, stunning, cool, surprising… people used many different adjectives to describe the city when I asked around, ahead of the trip. But the one remark on -almost- everyone’s lips was that San Francisco is ”the most European of all Californian cities”. How true was that?
After only one day, my European antennae were tickled by some of the Pacific Heights mansions, the Italian trams and vintage cable cars, the shifts in temperature and clouds. But these were just a few highlights, my first impressions. What is San Francisco really like?
A walk Downtown and the adjacent, city-within-a-city, Chinatown will help us find out. By the way, the Chinese population of San Francisco represents the single largest ethnic group with 21,4% of the population, concentrated mostly in Chinatown (source). One of the many faces of San Francisco, the least ”European” one of all. July 5th, 2017
This poster on the window of a barber shop in Port Authority Subway, kept poking me; something about his sideways glance, unintentionally funny face and the ”Love, Mother” logo made me smile, every time.
Sculpture: “5 in 1”, 1973-74, Tony Rosenthal. On permanent display at One Police Plaza, it consists of five interlocking discs which represent the interconnectedness of the City’s Five Boroughs, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.
Sculpture: ”Untitled, (Two Dancing Figures)”, 1989, Keith Haring. On display in 17 State St.
1/Installation courtesy of Q Florist
2/”Ursus”, the gigantic bronze sculpture by Dan Ostermiller was inviting visitors to cross the monumental entrance of St. John the Divine Cathedral. Inside, more wild creatures had taken their places all over the Cathedral in celebration of ”A Summer of Sculpture” – an exhibition that ran through September 2017.
More photos from ”A Summer of Sculpture” coming up tomorrow.