Category Archives: History

Nirvana in a Box

Nirvana in a Box.

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“One pan. 10 minutes. Countless OOHHs and AHHs,” read the message on one side of the cardboard box. “#DinnerSolved,” proclaimed its other side. The solution it contained was a platoon of individually packaged, par-cooked ingredients for sweet potato and black bean enchiladas. Resting on a bed of ice packs and swaddled by insulated foam panels, it was the meal I’d ordered from Gobble, one of the Bay Area’s burgeoning number of subscription dinner-kit services.

Before trying Gobble, I’d spoken with its founder, Ooshma Garg, who had explained her company’s MO: “We cook just enough so you feel there’s just enough cooking for you to do. You can end up with an exquisite, perfectly made meal that we’ve assured for you.” In other words, it’s the culinary equivalent of assembling an IKEA nightstand. Cooking Gobble’s enchiladas amounted to opening the plastic bags and containers holding the individual components—premade filling, Spanish rice, salsa roja, a few corn tortillas, cotija cheese, and fresh cilantro—spooning the filling into the tortillas, and sticking it all in the oven for a few minutes.

“Exquisite” isn’t the word I’d use to describe the result, which was tasty and inoffensive in the manner of above-average cafeteria food. But that was fitting, I suppose, since I didn’t feel like I’d actually done any cooking. And that, in effect, is the idea at the core of the growing dinner-kit industry, which got its start, tellingly, in Sweden with the 2007 debut of a service called Middagsfrid (which roughly translates to “the calm that you feel when you sit down and have dinner after a long day”). It began gaining traction in this country a few years ago with the launch of companies like Blue Apron and Plated, both of which posed a virtually identical value proposition: Give us your credit card information and we’ll do the grunt work.

What “cooks” get, in effect, is dinner concocted with just enough some-assembly-required exertion to yield a wee frisson of DIY satisfaction. As someone who enjoys cooking, I am inherently skeptical of these companies. But even my somewhat freakish love of grocery store aisles doesn’t fully account for my knee-jerk dubiousness. It’s also a reaction to what George Packer memorably described in the New Yorker as the mission of Silicon Valley’s hottest tech startups: “Solving all the problems of being twenty years old, with cash on hand.”

The dinner-kit companies may be peddling to time-strapped working people up and down the class ladder, but their real customer base is a cohort with a surfeit of disposable income and an undying need to streamline the crap out of modern life. So it’s no surprise, then, that Silicon Valley investors are funding subscription-dinner kit startups as fast as they can demo their product, each promising a personalized spin on the concept. There’s Gobble, which was founded in 2010 as a sort of dinner matchmaking service for chefs and customers and now delivers precooked components for what Garg calls “Michelin-level meal[s] that you could never have made yourself through your own skills.”

There’s seven-month-old Sun Basket, which employs former Slanted Door chef Justine Kelly and an in-house nutritionist to create lifestyle-specific meals (paleo, gluten-free) that emphasize organic ingredients from local farms and, in founder Adam Zbar’s words, “export California value and bounty” to users. Three-year-old PlateJoy, which has $1.7 million in funding from investors as diverse as SherpaVentures, Foundation Capital, and Jared Leto (!), is likewise focused on healthy cooking. Its founder, Christina Bognet, clarifies, “We are a technology-enabled personalized-ingredient startup that uses algorithms to make you healthy,” which translates to bags of organic ingredients delivered directly from Whole Foods, along with recipes.

Meanwhile, 10-month-old Din uses precooked dinner components, like Gobble, but differentiates itself with mostly organic and locally sourced ingredients and recipes from restaurants like Bar Tartine and Tacolicious. By doing the prep work, explains Din cofounder Emily Olson LaFave, “We’re empowering people who are scared of it not working out.” Fair enough. But there’s something a little contradictory about these elevator pitches, which ostensibly extol the virtues of a home-cooked meal while presenting cooking as a source of stress and unhappiness akin to purchasing a used car. Bognet describes planning and cooking healthy meals as “just too complicated,” while Olson LaFave recalls analyzing cooking’s “pain points” as part of her research.

Granted, cooking may be this anguishing for some people. And it’s plausible that these services have the potential to help more such kitchen apostates across the country cook dinner. Still, cutting through the varying layers of startup bombast (at one point, Garg described Gobble as “lifesaving”), I was left with the question I have about most of the apps and web-based services supposedly created to simplify our lives: How exhaustively do we need to be spoon-fed (in this case, almost literally)?

And while we’re at it, here’s a riddle: How many ziplock bags does it take to negate a company’s claim that it cares deeply about organic/local/sustainable/environmentally conscious food? At this point, complaining that tech startups are turning us into teething infants incapable of handling surprise or discomfort is about as useful as complaining about the amount of sand on a beach. Although none of the companies I spoke with would disclose their subscriber numbers, the growth of their sector speaks to the fact that a significant number of people will pay for the privilege of having someone else do their planning and precooking for them.

I do like that some of these startups appear to be serious about reducing the amount of trash that typically accompanies dinner kits: PlateJoy delivers its ingredients in a grocery bag and uses a waste-reduction algorithm to cut down on unused food; Din packages its goods in a reusable (and returnable) tote lined with disappearing dry ice; and Sun Basket employs recycled blue jeans as insulation for its boxes, which customers can likewise return. A more compelling question for me, though, is where this is going, or could go. Food, after all, is basically analog, a massive market that hasn’t yet been impacted by tech.

Garg, who believes that we’re moving inexorably toward “a delivery culture around commodities,” goes so far as to predict that “all commodity goods outlets, including takeout restaurants, Walmarts, Targets, Blockbusters, and grocery stores, will cease to exist. The only infrastructure worth existing for the consumer will be built around a unique consumer cultural experience like a movie theater or theme park or Michelin-starred restaurant.” Setting aside the fact that Blockbuster’s demise is a fait accompli, maybe that’s what bugs me: Implicit in Garg’s forecast is the belief that something like buying groceries and planning a meal isn’t a worthy experience, and that a restaurant needs a Michelin star in order to be deserving of existence.

Growing up, I got arguably more quality time with my parents from grocery shopping than from going to the movies or watching TV together; it might not have been the most entertaining endeavor, but it was ours, and it had value. I’m sure plenty of families would readily outsource their meal planning (provided they could afford to), but I’m also sure that delivery culture has about as much chance of making us happier as partially built Nornäs drawers from IKEA do. And that’s not even taking into account the convenience economy’s dark underbelly, with its army of low-paid workers who labor to make life easier for the relatively affluent.

Ultimately, I’d be less skeptical of the dinner-kit industry if #DinnerSolved meant putting healthy, easily prepared food in the hands of the less fortunate. I realize that’s not going to make anyone a billionaire, and that it’s unfair to judge these companies for what they aren’t. A lot of their food is actually pretty good. But those entrées would be easier to swallow if they didn’t often come with a side order of baloney.


Email Rebecca Flint Marx at 
rmarx@modernluxury.com
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Follow Rebecca Flint Marx at 
@EdibleComplex

– See more at: http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/nirvana-box#sthash.kVcjmDgG.dpuf

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Asking 1 Million Dollars for a 1906 Earthquake Shack in Bernal Heights

Asking 1 Million Dollars for a 1906 Earthquake Shack in Bernal Heights.

Asking 1 Million Dollars for a 1906 Earthquake Shack in Bernal Heights

Buyers looking to own a piece of San Francisco history need look no further: 331 Prentiss Street, a former earthquake shack in Bernal Heights, has recently come to market at $1.15 million. The two-bedroom, two-bath house has undergone some major renovations, including a new foundation, new kitchen and new bathrooms, and is more than twice its original 550 square feet. But it still contains three of four “shack” walls, including its historic facade (though a window and wraparound porch have been added).

The home’s current owners say the structure originally built on the land burned down in the fires caused by the city’s famed 1906 earthquake. The displaced residents had to move into one of the “refugee shacks” built to provide housing in the aftermath of the quake. When the parkland refugee camps began closing in late 1907, the Prentiss property owners hauled two shacks (one of the larger 14′ x 18′ models and one of the smaller 10′ x 14′ cottages) back to their property and combined them together to create one home. As The Chronicle recently reported, almost all of the approximately 5,000 shacks built for quake refugees are now gone, but the largest concentration that remains can be found in Bernal Heights. (A few have also been found in the Sunset, Ocean View, Daly City and even Santa Cruz.)

The current owners of the Prentiss property kept the shape of the combined shacks and added traditional trim work to the new addition to maintain the look and feel of the historic home. A sense of history was also on the owners’ minds when creating their beadboard-backsplashed kitchen and traditional bathrooms with features like a clawfoot tub and subway tile. But the home has definitely been modernized with an open floor plan, overhauled plumbing and electrical systems, and double-paned windows. The backyard also underwent a transformation of its own, with the addition of a patio, eat-in solarium and private hot tub area.

Also transformed: the price. After the quake, refugees typically paid $2 a month toward the $50 cost for their shacks. But more than 100 years—and a  major renovation and expansion—later, the $891 per square foot asking price at 331 Prentiss is actually a bargainfor the neighborhood.

From SF GATE,

Emily Landes is a writer and editor who is obsessed with all things real estate. She also has a DIY problem that she blogs about at pritical.com

 

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San Francisco 1816

A. M. Robertson -> San Francsico One Hundred Years Ago …
San Francisco One Hundred Years Ago
Book Cover
Early on September 20, 1816 (old style, October 2), we came within sight of the coast of New California. The land we first saw was what is known as Point Reyes, to the north of San Francisco. As the wind was favourable we soon passed the Farallones, which are dangerous rocks, and at four in the afternoon we entered San Francisco harbour. The fort, which is within the entrance and on the south shore, is thoroughly equipped for defense. The presidio of San Francisco is about one marine mile from the fort and on the same side; it is square in form and has two gates which are constantly guarded by a considerable company of men. The buildings have windows on the side towards the interior court only. The presidio is occupied by ninety Spanish soldiers, a commandant, a lieutenant, a commissary, and a sergeant. Most of these are married. The men and women are tall and well built. Very few of the soldiers have married Indians. They are all good horsemen and two of them can easily cope with fifty natives.Two leagues to the southeast of the presidio and on the southern shore of the harbour is the Mission of San Francisco, which makes a fair-sized village. The mission church is large and is connected with the house of the missionaries, which is plain and reasonably clean and well kept. The mission always has a guard of three or four soldiers from the presidio. The village is inhabited by fifteen hundred Indians; there they are given protection, clothing, and an abundance of food. In return, they cultivate the land for the community. Corn, wheat, beans, peas, and potatoes – in a word, all kinds of produce – are to be found in the general warehouse. By authority of the superior, a general cooking of food takes place, at a given hour each day, in the large square in the middle of the village; each family comes there for its ration which is apportioned with regard to the number of its members. They are also given a certain quantity of raw provisions. Two or three families occupy the same house. In their free time, the Indians work in gardens that are given them; they raise therein onions, garlic, cantaloupes, watermelons, pumpkins, and fruit trees. The products belong to them and they can dispose of them as they see fit.

In winter, hands of Indians come from the mountains to be admitted to the mission, but the greater part of them leave in the spring. They do not like the life at the mission. They find it irksome to work continually and to have everything supplied to them in abundance. In their mountains, they live a free and independent, albeit a miserable, existence. Rats, insects, and snakes, – all these serve them for food; roots also, although there are few that are edible, so that at every step they are almost certain to find something to appease their hunger. They are too unskillful and lazy to hunt. They have no fixed dwellings; a rock or a bush affords sufficient protection for them from every vicissitude of the weather. After several months spent in the missions, they usually begin to grow fretful and thin, and they constantly gaze with sadness at the mountains which they can see in the distance. Once or twice a year the missionaries permit those Indians upon whose return they believe they can rely to visit their own country, but it often happens that few of these return; some, on the other hand, bring with them new recruits to the mission.

The Indian children are more disposed to adopt the mission life. They learn to make a coarse cloth from sheep’s wool for the community. I saw twenty looms that were constantly in operation. Other young Indians are instructed in various trades by the missionaries. There is a house at the mission in which some two hundred and fifty women – the widows and daughters of dead Indians – reside. They do spinning. This house also shelters the wives of Indians who are out in the country by order of the fathers. They are placed there at the request of the Indians, who are exceedingly jealous, and are taken out again when their husbands return. The fathers comply with such requests in order to protect the women from mischief, and they watch over this establishment with the greatest vigilance.

The mission has two mills operated by mules. The flour produced by them is only sufficient for the consumption of the Spanish soldiers who are obliged to buy it from the fathers.

The presidio frequently has need of labourers for such work as carrying wood, building, and other jobs; the superior, thereupon, sends Indians who are paid for their trouble; but the money goes to the mission which is obliged to defray all the expenses of the settlement.

On Sundays and holidays they celebrate divine service. All the Indians of both sexes, without regard to age, are obliged to go to church and worship. Children brought up by the superior, fifty of whom are stationed around him, assist him during the service which they also accompany with the sound of musical instruments. These are chiefly drums, trumpets, tabors, and other instruments of the same class. It is by means of their noise that they endeavour to stir the imagination of the Indians and to make men of these savages. It is, indeed, the only means of producing an effect upon them. When the drums begin to beat they fall to the ground as if they were half dead. None dares to move; all remain stretched upon the ground without making the slightest movement until the end of the service, and, even then, it is necessary to tell them several times that the mass is finished. Armed soldiers are stationed at each corner of the church. After the mass, the superior delivers a sermon in Latin to his flock.

On Sunday, when the service is ended, the Indians gather in the cemetery, which is in front of the mission house, and dance. Half of the men adorn themselves with feathers and with girdles ornamented with feathers and with bits of shell that pass for money among them, or they paint their bodies with regular lines of black, red, and white. Some have half their bodies (from the head downward) daubed with black, the other half red, and the whole crossed with white lines. Others sift the down from birds on their hair. The men commonly dance six or eight together, all making the same movements and all armed with spears. Their music consists of clapping the hands, singing, and the sound made by striking split sticks together which has a charm for their ears; this is finally followed by a horrible yell that greatly resembles the sound of a cough accompanied by a whistling noise. The women dance among themselves, but without making violent movements.

California Air
Californian Air
Tremblingly and Mysterious

The Indians are greatly addicted to games of chance; they stake their ornaments, their tools, their money, and, frequently, even the clothing that the missionaries have given them. Their games consist of throwing little pieces of wood which have to fall in an even or in an odd number, or others that are rounded on one side and as they fall on the flat or on the round side the player loses or wins.

Upon the demise of his father or mother, or of some kinsman, the Indian daubs his face with black in token of mourning.

The missionaries have characterized the people as lazy, stupid, jealous – gluttons, cowards. I have never seen one laugh. I have never seen one look one in the face. They look as though they were interested in nothing.

It is reckoned that there are more than fifteen Indian tribes represented in the mission. The Kulpuni, Kosmiti, Bolbones, Kalalons, Umpini, Lamanes, Pitemens, and Apatamnes speak one language and live along the Sacramento River. The Guimen, Utchiuns, Olompalis, Tamals, and Sonomas likewise speak one language. These tribes are the most largely represented at the Mission of San Francisco. The Saklans, Suisuns, Utulatines, and the Numpolis speak different languages. Another tribe, the Tcholovoni, differ considerably in feature, in general physiognomy, and in a more or less attractive exterior from all the others. These live in the mountains. They have formed an alliance with the Spaniards against all the Indian tribes. They make beautiful weapons, such as bows and arrows. The tips of the latter are furnished with pieces of flint fashioned with great skill.

Severe fevers occur constantly among the Indians. These maladies commonly carry off a very great number. Several missions in Lower California have gone out of existence in the past twenty years by reason of the extinction of the Indians.

The Indians at the missions to the south of San Francisco – particularly that of Santa Barbara – make charming vessels and vase-shaped baskets, capable of holding water, from withes of various running plants. They know how to give them graceful forms, and also how to introduce pleasing designs into the fabric. They ornament them with bits of shell and with feathers.

The Indians build their canoes when they are about to undertake an expedition on the water; they are made of reeds. When they get into them they become half filled with water so that the occupant, when seated, is in water up to the calves of his legs. They propel them by means of long paddles having pointed blades at both ends.

The Missions of San Francisco, Santa Clara, San José, and Santa Cruz depend upon the presidio of San Francisco which is required to succour and assist all the fathers and to furnish them with soldiers when necessary – particularly to accompany them upon excursions into the country. One such expedition, consisting of two fathers and twelve soldiers, returned a short time before our arrival. It had been their intention to ascend the Sacramento River, which empties into the bay to the northeast of the mission. But the Spaniards met parties of armed men at every turn; nowhere were they well received. They were compelled therefore to return after fifteen days without having made any progress towards the end in view.

The rocks near the bay of San Francisco are commonly covered with sea-lions. Bears are very plentiful on land. When the Spaniards wish to amuse themselves, they catch them alive and make them fight with bulls.

Sea-otters abound in the harbour and in the neighbouring waters. Their fur is too valuable for them to be overlooked by the Spaniards. An otter skin of good size and of the best quality is worth in China. The best grade of skins must be large, of a rich colour, and should contain plenty of hairs with whitish ends that give a silvery sheen to the surface of the fur.

Russians from Sitka (Norfolk Sound), the headquarters of the Russian-American colony, are established at Bodega Bay, thirty miles north of San Francisco. Their chief in this new settlement is M. Kuskof, an expert fur-trader. They are thirty in number and they have fifteen Kadiaks with them. They have built a small fort which is equipped with a dozen cannon. The harbour will admit only vessels that draw eight or nine feet of water. This was formerly a point for the selling of smuggled goods to the Spaniards. M. Kuskof actually has in his settlement horses, cows, sheep, and everything else that can be raised in this beautiful and splendid country. It was with great difficulty that we obtained a pair of each species from the Spaniards because the government had strictly forbidden that any be disposed of.

M. Kuskof, assisted by the small number of men with him, catches almost two thousand otters every year without trouble. When not so engaged the men are employed at building and in improving the settlement. The otter skins are usually sold to American fur-traders. When these fail of a full cargo, they go to Sitka where they obtain skins in exchange for sugar, rum, cloth, and Chinese cotton stuff. The Russian company, not having a sufficient number of ships, sends its own skins to China (or only as far as Okhotsk) as freight on American ships.

Two hundred and fifty American ships, from Boston, New York, and elsewhere, come to the coast every year. Half of them engage in smuggling with enormous profit. No point for landing goods along the entire Spanish-American coast bathed by the Pacific Ocean, from Chili to California, is neglected. It often happens that Spanish warships give chase to American vessels, but these, being equipped with much sail, having large crews, and having, moreover, arms with which to defend themselves, are rarely caught.

The commodities most acceptable to the Indians of the coast of Northwest America are guns, powder, bullets, and lead for their manufacture, knives, coarse woolen blankets, and mother-of-pearl from the Pacific which they use to make ornaments for the head and neck.

Ships are often attacked with the very arms that they themselves sold, and even on the same day that they were delivered. Most of them, however, carrying from eight to fourteen guns, are able to defend themselves. Such occurrences are frequently turned to profit, for, should they carry off one of the chiefs, they are certain to get a great deal of merchandise as ransom, and gain greater facilities for trading.

May Heaven defend a ship from being wrecked on this coast! It is said that the barbarous habit of eating their prisoners survives among several of the tribes that inhabit it. When they build a house, or when they carry out some matter of importance, they put to death a number of slaves as is done when a war is ended. Upon a man’s death, they bury with him his wife and the slaves to whom he was most attached.

Natives of California (1816)
Natives of California (1816)
A Residence (1913)
A Residence (1913)
Natives of California (1816)
Natives of California (1816)
A Shop (1913)
A Shop (1913)
Head-Dresses Worn by the Natives of California in Their Dances (1816)
Head-Dresses Worn by the Natives of California in Their Dances (1816)
A Shop (Courtyard and Show-windows) (1913)
A Shop (Courtyard and Show-windows) (1913)
A Dance of California Indians at the Mission (Dolores) of San Francisco (1816)
A Dance of California Indians at the Mission (Dolores) of San Francisco (1816)
Mission Dolores (1913)
Mission Dolores (1913)
A Game of the Natives of California (1816)
A Game of the Natives of California (1816)
A Club Interior (1913)
A Club Interior (1913)
Point Reyes, the Golden Gate, and the Farallones (1813)
Point Reyes, the Golden Gate, and the Farallones (1813)
A Residence (1913)
A Residence (1913)
Weapons and Utensils from California (1816)
Weapons and Utensils from California (1816)
Masonic Building (1913)
Masonic Building (1913)
Indians of the Tcholovoni Tribe Hunting on the Shores of the Bay of San Francisco (1816)
Indians of the Tcholovoni Tribe Hunting on the Shores of the Bay of San Francisco (1816)
A Hotel Bar (1913)
A Hotel Bar (1913)
A Theatre (1913)
A Theatre (1913)
Union Square (1913)
Union Square (1913)
An Hotel (1913)
An Hotel (1913)
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Follow the Red Brick Road: San Francisco's Underground Water Supply | Untapped SF

San Francisco, Urbanism — June 29, 2012 2:18 pm

Follow the Red Brick Road: San Francisco’s Underground Water Supplyby alison miller

They might catch your eye as you hike up the hills near Dolores Park, walk through the Richmond fog, or stroll the quiet streets of Cole Valley: red brick circles are embedded in dozens of San Francisco’s roads throughout the city.

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These brick circles might look decorative, but there’s much more to them than what’s on the surface. Underneath each is a concrete tank that holds 75,000 gallons of water. 172 of these underground cisterns exist throughout the city, making up an important component of San Francisco’s Auxiliary Water Supply System (AWSS).

The AWSS was developed in response to 1906 earthquake, which caused a devastating combination of fires and damage to the major water lines that were needed to fight them. Left with few usable hydrants and a lack of sufficient backup water supply, firefighters were unable to stop the blazes for days.

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Smoke billowed over San Francisco as the fires of 1906 spread throughout the city with few available firefighting resources. [Source: San Francisco History Center/San Francisco Public Library]

As city engineers developed plans for a better emergency water system, they noted that San Francisco’s 23 cisterns were among the few firefighting resources that had worked in the aftermath of the earthquake. They called for a much larger network of cisterns throughout the city. Over one hundred were constructed in the next few decades, including one cistern every 3 blocks in key downtown areas. Along with cisterns, the AWSS includes a major reservoir on Twin Peaks and pump systems that draw directly from San Francisco Bay. These backup resources were critical in fighting fires that broke out after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

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Red bricks outline a cistern on Dolores Street at 24th.

Not all cisterns are outlined by the distinctive brick circles, but you can tell there’s one nearby if you spot a fire hydrant with a green top. Different colors and shapes are used to indicate a hydrant’s water source and pressure level.

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A green fire hydrant “bonnet” indicates that there’s a cistern nearby. This one is on Castro Street at 14th.

Each cistern is also covered with a manhole that reads CISTERN S.F.F.D., but they’re no longer maintained by the Fire Department. In 2010, the Public Utilities Commission assumed responsibility for the Auxiliary Water Supply System, which has survived several earthquakes but is showing its age with rust and leaks. By the end of this decade, the Public Utilities Commission hopes to have completed major renovations and seismic updates. For more information on these efforts, visit sfearthquakesafety.org.

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Cistern maintenance moved to the SF Public Utilities Commission in 2010, but S.F.F.D. labels remain on manhole covers. This cistern is at Douglass and Elizabeth.

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No red bricks here: this cistern cover hides in the grass at the edge of Dolores Park.

via Follow the Red Brick Road: San Francisco’s Underground Water Supply | Untapped SF.

 

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Explore San Francisco: Explore The Folsom District. Free Event

Explore San Francisco: The Folsom District

Free Event This Saturday July 14th

 We’ll start in the heart of the old SOMA District, “South Of the Slot”.  See this blue collar neighborhood as it used to be before re-development.  Then we will travel to a former gay entertainment strip, the area is now commonly called, “Crack Alley”.  Before it is destroyed forever, see the Hugo Hotel and the world famous art installation known as, “Defenestration”.
Next up, we’ll cruise the 1970’s “Miracle Mile” of the Folsom District. This area was Mecca for the Gay Leather community and withstood re-development until the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s decimated much of the population, leaving the community weakened and vulnerable. The Folsom Street Fair was created out of this crisis, and is the largest leather/fetish event in the world and the third largest, single-day outdoor event in California. We will see the Fairgrounds but we are really here to celebrate the Folsom’s heyday. During that time this area boasted over 30 gay bars and bath houses, as well as lesbian bars, shops, hotels, retail, private sex clubs, eateries and motorcycle clubs. This was called the “Valley of the Kings“, and you will see why.
We will stop at Wicked Grounds ‘kink” coffee shop for refreshments and snacks. Shopping stops and tours are at Mr. S Leather and Good Vibrations. Many more stops and places of interest are included on this one of a kind tour. This tour ticket does not include the Armory. Please see The Folsom District & The Armory listing if you wish to attend both. For further information please call 415.793.1104 or email info@exploresf.biz

To reserve your space for this free event please sign up at: http://www.facebook.com/events/200800926712135/

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Pacific Telephone Building From Condos To Yelp



Pac Bell Building

Scraps Plans For Condos

Yelp Is Moving to 140  Montgomery Street

 

Back in 2007, developers Wilson Meany Sullivan (of Ferry Building and One Powell fame) acquired the Timothy Pfleuger art deco skycraper at 140 New Montgomery Street. Known as the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Building, the tower was one of the tallest skyscrapers on the West Coast at the time it was constructed in 1925. The developers had grand plans to renovate the building into luxury condos, and even got through the permitting and entitlements labyrinth in 2008. Unfortunately for them, the plans were hatched right before the recession, and the loss of funding cause the project to stall out for the past four years.

Fast forward to today and the office market has started to boom again, so the developers have redirected the project. With a $50 million-plus modernization project about to begin, the new rehabilitation will include a major seismic retrofit and upgrading the skyscraper’s 280,000 square feet of available office space to house potential tech start-ups, venture-capital firms and others. According to the project website, the space will included high-end amenities like a private

outdoor tenant garden, showers, bike parking and repair rooms, and first-class ground-floor dining. Are you listening, future fancy tenants?

Designed by local superstar architect Timothy Pflueger (art deco mastermind behind the Transbay TerminalNew Mission TheaterCCSF, and the Paramount Theater in Oakland), it has soaring terra-cotta piers, art deco details and 13-foot-tall eagle statues at the top – not to mention a pretty fierce marble lobby. There’s also a 26th floor auditorium (sure, why not?), complete with bas reliefs with a snake charmer, elephants and other animals. According to the plans, WMS seeks to maintain the architectural integrity of the building – vintage light fixtures in the lobby will be restored, original bronze medallions on the elevator doors replicated, and the old mail chute retained.

It won’t be all historic sentimentality though, as the plan also include measures to modernize and add safety features to the building. They will replace 1,300 of the building’s 1,700 steel-frame windows, install seismic bracing and modernize the elevators. The developer also plans to create two new retail or restaurant spaces off the restored main lobby. According to the Wall Street Journal, the building should beready for occupancy in the summer of 2013.


UPDATE**** YELP Moving in

Yelp has given San Francisco a five-star rating, committing itself to stay in its hometown through at least 2021.

The popular online review site, one of the first dot-coms to set up shop in the city after the Internet bubble burst, will announce Thursday that it has signed a roughly 100,000-square-foot lease at the Pacific Telephone Building, an Art Deco classic of the city’s skyline.

Pac Bell Building

Pac Bell Building (Photo credit: jgatts)

“We’ve grown up here in the city, and it’s fair to say that Yelp wouldn’t have been as successful had we not started in a city like San Francisco,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, chief executive of Yelp, in describing why the company decided to keep its headquarters here. “It’s a very dynamic cultural scene, lots of restaurants and nightlife, and all those things feed nicely into what Yelp is about.”

Contributing factors included the deepening design and engineering talent pool in the city, the convenient commute to that slice of South of Market and the unique character of 140 New Montgomery St., he said.

Designed by prominent architect Timothy Pflueger in the 1920s, the Pacific Telephone Building is considered one of the finest Art Deco skyscrapers in the city, routinely praised in local architecture guides.

Yelp will relocate from its current space at 706 Mission St. in the fall of 2013. The new space will accommodate around 800 employees, room to grow from the roughly 500 San Francisco workers Yelp has today.

 

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Architecture Spotlight: Jackson Brewery | Untapped SF

Jackson Brewery

By Cindy Casey

There have been over 79 breweries in San Francisco’s history, most of them either lost to the 1906 earthquake or in the two years following the 1919 passage of the 21st amendment. These lost brew houses included the North Star Brewery at Filbert and Sansome, the Globe Brewing Company at Sansome and Greenwich and the Jackson Brewing Company. Yet despite the fact that the Jackson Brewing Company did not survive Prohibition, its building still stands.

1906 Damaged Jackson Brewing Company (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

The Jackson Brewing Company was owned by the William A. Fredericks family from 1867 to 1920. The first brewery was on First Street between Howard and Folsom; they purchased the property at Folsom and 11th in 1905. Early construction was destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent fire. Consequently, the new brewery wasn’t completed until 1912.

The brewery is composed of a series of low-rise brick buildings sitting on a concrete foundation and simply ornamented with concrete and wood. This Romanesque Revival style brewery is one of the last remaining turn-of-the-century brewing complexes of its type.

Romanesque architecture was a style that emerged in Western Europe in the early 11th century. It has Roman and Byzantine elements and is characterized by massive articulated wall structures, round arches, and powerful vaults. This style lasted until the advent of Gothic architecture in the middle of the 12th century. Romanesque Revival was the reuse in the second half of the 19th century of the massive Romanesque forms.

Romanesque architecture in the United States was much simpler than that found in Europe. The Romanesque features of the Jackson Brewery include semicircular arches for the door and window openings and a belt course (a horizontal band across a building).

Due to its brick construction, the Jackson Brewery building did not fare well in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. A thorough retrofitting was done to upgrade the building to San Francisco’s 1990 building codes. The building is now a mixed-use complex with seven live-work condominiums and a restaurant.

San Francisco is now home to only ten breweries. These include the famous Anchor Steam Brewery and lesser-known local favorites such as The Beach Chalet, Speakeasy and the ThirstyBear.

The Jackson Brewery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 and is San Francisco Landmark #199.

Jackson Brewery
1489 Folsom Street, San Francisco [Map]

Follow Untapped Cities on Twitter and Facebook. Get in touch with the author @PQPP3.


The Most Creative Spaces in San Francisco History, Part One

City Lights and The Fillmore:

The Most Creative Spaces in San Francisco History

Copyright Jim Marshall Photography LLC

Creativity and innovation are hallmarks of San Francisco, where a startup mentality continues to define us. We routinely set foot on the hallowed grounds of storied cultural landmarks—unprecedented venues at their inception that remain progressive icons today. Here, insiders reminisce on the impact of four classic SF institutions to remind us why they epitomize the city’s special spirit. In this installment, we start with City Lights and The Fillmore. Next week, we’ll continue with Castro Theatre and Stern Grove.

City Lights Bookstore, est. 1953. By Lawrence Ferlinghetti, cofounder, publisher, and poet

In 1953, San Francisco wasn’t what it is today. At that time, paperbacks were not considered real books in America. Peter Martin, an editor I met in North Beach, had the brilliant idea to open the first paperback bookstore in the U.S. My idea was to make City Lights a literary meeting place. I was used to the literary scene in Paris cafes and wanted to create a public place where people could hang out and read all day.

As soon as we got the doors open—we started off with one little room and slowly expanded—the store attracted people because there was such a void in that space. This was a brand-new scene. Back then, bookstores weren’t open on the weekends or late at night. We changed that. We were the first to introduce a periodicals section and the first to carry gay magazines. There was a lot of demand for this new culture, and we rode the wave. Comedians like Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl stopped in before gigs.

I was one of those New York carpet-bagging poets. I wasn’t really one of the Beats, but I got associated with them because I published them. City Lights, under my direction, was a publisher almost from the beginning, and this was another innovation—bookstores didn’t do that sort of thing. We printed Allen Ginsberg’s Howl in 1956, at the start of the poetry revolution. The Beats articulated what later became the themes of 1960s hippie counterculture, antiwar demonstrations, and ecological consciousness. Kerouac’s On the Road was a sad book, but it turned everybody on because it expressed what his generation was feeling. Sociologists said it articulated the end of American innocence.

In the late 1990s, we restored the City Lights building because of a required retrofit, but the inside remains mostly the same. You’ll still see locals reading in the basement or up in the poetry room. We have so many events there, but the tourists don’t generally know about them—they’re just passing through. We also get a lot of professors and students from all over the country and an enormous amount of foreign visitors. Today, there’s not a literary revolution as there was when City Lights opened. Today, we have the electronic revolution, which is wiping out so many bookstores. We’re benefitting from being among the few that have survived. We could soon be the last man standing.”

—As told to Chris Trenchard and Allison McCarthy

The Fillmore, est. 1966 By Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle music critic, 1972–2009

I saw my first show at the Fillmore in 1967: Chuck Berry and the Grateful Dead. It cost $3 to get in. There were two walls covered with lights. The stage was small. About 1,100 people, absorbed in sound and lights, crammed into the room. The experience was truly authentic.

And to think that bands like Led Zeppelin, The DoorsOtis ReddingHowlin’ Wolf, and the Grateful Dead all played on that tiny little stage. Bill Graham started renting the place from promoter Charles Sullivan in the ’60s. The thing was a success right from the word “go.” Bill wasn’t really a fan of rock music—he was originally a mambo dancer from New York. But he had plenty of street smarts. Over time, though, he figured out how to book that room. It became a tribal rite to play there, and that gave the Fillmore this kind of mystique. Groups like Traffic and Cream gave performances that ended up being fundamental to the acceleration of their careers. It became clear that this place was at the center of something very special. At the time, Chet Helms operated the Avalon Ballroom, which was the Fillmore’s primary competitor back then. He had this theory that the Fillmore’s Apollonian stage and proscenium were gateways to the gods. Promoters would leverage this mystique to get bands like Crosby, Stills, and Nash, who would normally play at much bigger theaters. Then in the early ’90s, Tom Petty played 20 or 30 shows there over the course of a few months. Petty was definitely building on that mystique. It was quite a different place then. The old stage now lies (almost completely hidden from view) underneath the newer, bigger stage. But the Fillmore is still a space steeped in history and the ghosts of great performers. The guy who does the booking now, Michael Bailey, really knows the thrill of fandom. He’s been shrewd about capitalizing on the legacy of the Fillmore in the ’60s. Bands today are aware of the mystique—who hasn’t heard Cream’s Wheels of Fire: Live at the Fillmore? And it’s still a damn fine place to see a show.”

This article was published in 7×7’s June issue. Click here to subscribe.

EXPLORE San Francisco: The Folsom District

Folsom District Walking Tour- Free Event…

Public Event · By Explore San Francisco

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  • Sunday July 1st 2012
  • 1:15pm until 3:00pm
  • Meet on Mission Street at 4th
  • Adults only
  • Sign up on Facebook

We’ll start in the heart of the old SOMA District, “South Of the Slot”. See this blue collar neighborhood
as it used to be, before re-development.

Then we will travel to a former gay entertainment strip, the area
is now commonly called, “Crack Alley”.

Before it is destroyed forever, see the fantastic Hugo Hotel and
the world famous art installation known as, “Defenestration”. Watch out for falling furniture…

Next up, we’ll cruise the 1970′s “Miracle Mile” of the Folsom District. This area was Mecca for the Gay Leather community
and withstood re-development and thrived for a couple decades until the AIDS crisis of the
1980′s decimated much of the population, leaving the
community weakened and vulnerable.
The Folsom Street Fair was created
out of this crisis, and is the largest leather/fetish event in the
world and the third largest, single-day outdoor event in California.

English: Folsom Street Fair banner (simplified...

Folsom Street Fair banner

We will see the Fairgrounds but we are really here to celebrate the Folsom’s heyday. During that time this area bosted over 30 gay bars and bathhouses, as well as lesbian bars, shops, hotels, retail, private sex clubs, eateries and motorcycle clubs. This was called the “Valley of the Kings”, and you will see why.

We will stop at Wicked Grounds ‘kink” coffee shop for refreshments and snacks.
Shopping stops are at Mr. S Leather and Good Vibrations.
Many more stops and places of interest are included on this “one of a kind” tour.

This tour ticket does not include the Armory. Please see The Folsom District & The Armory listing if you would like to attend this tour.

For further information please call 415.793.1104 or email info@exploresf.biz.

This is a free event but guides will gladly accept tips.

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http://exploresf.biz/folsom.html


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Shanghai Surprise: the Language of San Francisco and the Barbary Coast | Gadling.com

Shanghai Surprise: the Language of San Francisco and the Barbary Coast

by David Farley (RSS feed) on Aug 3rd 2011 at 4:00PM

• 200: the population of San Francisco in 1846.

• 25,000: the population of San Francisco in 1849.

• 300: the number of women living in San Francisco in 1849.

• 200: the number of those women who were prostitutes.

• 1,400: the number of murders in San Francisco from 1850-1856

• 3: the number of murderers hanged during the same period.

One number that we’ll never know are the amount of people who were abducted, taken out to sea during this time period, and forced to, among other things, use words like “ahoy.” It happened so much that a particular word was invented for the practice and it has since entered the American lexicon: to shanghai someone.

The Barbary Coast was the physical hangover-a living, breathing collective gasp of desperation-of the Gold Rush. It created a lawless atmosphere that not even Moscow could compete with today.

As Simon Winchester wrote in A Crack in the Edge of the World: “During the 1850s, San Francisco’s notoriety was fully and widely established; it was a den of iniquity, a lawless town where men in unrestricted mobs drank, gambled, and whored their way from street to street, unchecked by family, by conscience, or by law.”

And the practice of shanghaiing went largely unchecked. Here’s how it would go:

A miner would go out for a night of drinking and carousing and when he couldn’t cough up enough money (or gold), he was given over to a crimp, a sort of loan shark, who would eventually knock the miner out and sell him to a sea captain. Eventually the minor would wake up, head aching from too much drink, and find himself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, his fate to working off his debt on the ship sealed, as the boat made what was called a “shanghai journey,” slang for a very long voyage.

It was a shanghai surprise: the language of San Francisco and the Barbary Coast.

via Shanghai Surprise: the Language of San Francisco and the Barbary Coast | Gadling.com.