San Francisco

World architecture... what's happening generally....

San Francisco

Postby lexington » Sun Aug 21, 2005 6:54 pm

Few cities in the world, to my mind, possess a completely unique air about in the way that San Francisco does. Granted, you can always feel the lingering presence of Americana in the background - but San Francisco, like New York and New Orleans, is a city built on distinction. 'Frisco', as I'm sure most native citizens of The Bay Area would cringe to hear their city being described, is defined by not only it's stunningly unique topography but also the manner in which the city has built itself up around it. The city has developed it's own unique architectural style and along the way, it has also brought the world some stand-out landmark structures which to this day hold the imagination of many. But these elements are only part of the charm - the city has a distinct character which sets itself apart from and beyond the rest of USA. It's city centre joins the likes of Paris, London, Barcelona, Sydney and Moscow (to name only a few) as a real 'world city' based on its unique style.

As with any city it has it's share of problems - rampant homelessness, outrageous living costs, drugs, crime, slums and the dangling threat that comes with being positioned over San Andreas Fault(!) - but to ride along the 1930s surving tram-cars along the Embarcadero early-morning, to wind-surf the bay, boat-trip out to Alcatraz, join the jogging groups that leave Gharadelli Square all the way out to Fort Point at 8am beneath the awe-inspiring Golden Gate Bridge - one comes to realise how special this city is in it's own right.

The city's history is ripe, complex and near seizes to amaze or interest me. Pleasantly for a US-city, a 15min drive will see you out of the city, into the countryside or to nearby Sausilito for some waterfront coffee and ice-cream. Again, the geography of the city has aided it's evolution to the benefit of it's citizens.

Indeed, the city seems to have it's share of, how should I put it, 'interesting' characters (I won't elaborate) but it doesn't seem to detract from the overwhelming intrigue afforded you from the city by the bay.
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Some Images

Postby lexington » Sun Aug 21, 2005 7:05 pm

California Street - at junction with Grant Street (Chinatown!) - looking uphill toward the spectacular Mark Hopkins Hotel.
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The spectacular sight of the Oakland Bay Bridge - early morning.
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View from along the Embarcadero - looking at Coit Tower (right) and TransAmerica Pyramid (left) in background.
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View of San Francisco from boat heading to Alcatraz.
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Famous Lombard Street - with Coit Tower in background. Street famous for hosting the infamous 'World's Most Twisting Street'.
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Spectacular Palace of Fine Arts - a left over from the 1916 World's Fair.
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And the big one itself - The Golden Gate Bridge, unlike the Statue of Liberty but like The Eiffel Tower, every bit as jaw-dropping in real life as you imagine it to be.
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Re: San Francisco

Postby pier39 » Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:16 pm

nice pics!

contrary to what my name may suggest my time in sanfran is limited, its more to do with a play on words than an actual affinity for the place. though i accept the place has got some very positive things going for it, sanfran isnt on my top list. its natives are fiercely proud, generally considering themselves a notch up on the scale of civility to, say their southern counterparts in l.a. the cultural scene is good and indeed the city does boasts its own architectural style. however, generally anything south of market street is a diffrent story.

interestingly i see the transamerica building featuring itself prominently as always in the pics above. the concept of a pyramid skyscraper was a bit madcapped. the general logic behind skyscrapers is to maximise the availble ground floor space by building up, vertical and increasing the area of the building in this manner. a pyramid contradicts this idea by actually reducing floor space as it ascends. my feeling is though this building, as with most new tall buildings, are more about symbolism than actual economy. for its time, it was an innovative structure. however were it to be proposed in the present day i would scream a merciful 'nooooooooooo!' its unique to the city and thats all the matters and i s'pose works well in that context.

sanfran is a nice city for tourists, in that sense its grand, but as tommy tiernan once said 'its not cork like!' hehe.
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Re: San Francisco

Postby PTB » Mon Aug 22, 2005 1:21 am

One of the Transamerica's more practical funcions is it's resistance to earthquakes. All movement is transmitted downwards and outwards with very little sway. It would withstand a neighbouring building falling on top of it pretty well also.

The building may not remain unique to the city for much longer if Rezo Piano's Shard of glass/Tower Bridge building is built in London. This time a glimmering glassy (I love alliteration!) exterior. Yet again a shameful waste of floor space. But I love pyramidal buildings for their sheer rareity,considering only two well known examples exist, one physically. If one was to be placed in, say, New York, it would stand out by far since all the rest are rectangluar or art deco (excluding the Battersea Park tower) and one building looks like the next. Because of this I think more should be built. Architecurally they're great,. In terms of ecomony less floor space is the developers problem.
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Re: San Francisco

Postby yorktown » Mon Aug 22, 2005 2:36 pm

Lexington - Gotta say that I agree with you on San Fran, very chilled out place and most unamerican - e,g, relatively peaceful in Union Square for such a big City......The one thing I did note about the place is that its not afraid to allow statements to be made...for example, the Apple store on Market Street, just down from Powell, pretty cool (I'll try to upload a picture later). What gets me is that if you tried somthing like that here you'd get murdered in planning........

Must say though that I thought you were a bit harsh on the homeless, granted I wouldn't go near the Tenderloin, and Golden Gate Park is a bit dodgy up by Haight but at least the homeless are a good deal more sober and pleasant than what you get here......
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Re: San Francisco

Postby lexington » Mon Aug 22, 2005 3:29 pm

yorktown wrote:Must say though that I thought you were a bit harsh on the homeless, granted I wouldn't go near the Tenderloin, and Golden Gate Park is a bit dodgy up by Haight but at least the homeless are a good deal more sober and pleasant than what you get here......


Nothing harsh meant by it at all - I wholeheartedly agree that the homeless community were, in my experience, no trouble at all. When I say 'rampant homelessness' I'm only describing what is indeed a recognised problem in San Francisco - and it's a shame to see the extent of such. Nothing negative meant by it at all - every city has it's social problems. Sorry if it was taken in any other way. :)
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Re: San Francisco

Postby yorktown » Tue Aug 23, 2005 11:00 am

lexington wrote:Nothing harsh meant by it at all - I wholeheartedly agree that the homeless community were, in my experience, no trouble at all. When I say 'rampant homelessness' I'm only describing what is indeed a recognised problem in San Francisco - and it's a shame to see the extent of such. Nothing negative meant by it at all - every city has it's social problems. Sorry if it was taken in any other way. :)

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No worries.....homelesness is definitely a problem there but I wonder somtimes if its just more visible given the good climate, I mean in London you can't really sleep on the sidewalk given the weather (leaving aside the fact that you'll probably get arrested).
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