Posts Tagged ‘Golden Gate Bridge’

San Francisco, You Lucky Bastard

I am sure San Franciscans know it, but they have it really good. Sure, they have one of the highest cost of living in the whole country, and a pesky little thing called the San Andreas Fault, but beyond that, it’s a really great city. Lots to do, lots of good restaurants, great natural sites within a couple hours’ drive, and a fairly rich history for a city only about 150 years old. I even like the weather: a fun combination of sunshine, chill winds, and surrealistic fog.

In my opinion, its greatest features is a series of greenspaces and historic sites strung together to form the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. These sites – including Alcatraz, old forts and battlements, beaches, historic homes, and wooded trails — weave in and out of the city, from the Pacific to the Bay, and up and down the ridgelines stretching north and south of the city. And the best part? All of it fully accessible to the public (and some even to their pets) for their enjoyment and recreation.

I’ve been to the city several times. On my last trip, I made it a point to visit as many of the sites as I could. I only had a couple days, but I hit a good selection. And besides the interest and convenience of these places, what really impressed me was how much use these sites got. The locals use these sites. They are walking the beaches, throwing Frisbees in the parks, walking their dogs on the paths, playing softball in the fields. These folks use their greenspaces, and this is a good thing.

Historically, it was hard to keep greenspaces, especially waterfront greenspaces such as those in San Francisco. During the maritime age, seafront property was wanted for docks, wharfs, flophouses and canneries. During the Industrial Revolution, land was taken over for production, power generation, or transportation. In the 80’s right on through to today, overbuilding for commercial development, high-end housing, or tourism is the big problem. But there was a really strong movement to preserve all this greenspace in San Francisco and the surrounding area, big enough to override the moneyed interests moving in the opposite direction. The preservation movement won out, and today, I doubt there is a single resident of the city who’d like it any other way.

Nowadays, driving around the country, I see plenty of abandoned factories and overbuilt developments. At one time, long before the excavators went in, those lots were greenspaces, filled with trees, streams, or grasslands. Once you tear them up, pave them over, or build on them, they’re gone. And yes, gone forever. How many buildings have ever been torn down and replaced by trees, streams, and grassland? Virtually none by comparison. Building is permanent and will not be undone, it’s just the fact of the matter. Zoning boards, planning boards, developers, and taxpayers need to understand this. Once you build, what you’ve built on is gone. Better be damned sure what you’re building is necessary and appropriate, and won’t simply be another foreclosed or abandoned property in 10 years.

Green is forever … until we tear it up. Spread the word. And go to San Francisco at least once. Spend a week, there’s plenty to see and do.

[Pics are mine and thusly copyrighted.]



Golden Gate National Recreation Area

San Francisco Parks Trust

EPA’s Greenscaping page

21st Amendment Brewery

Google map for San Francisco


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