Thursday, February 14, 2013

Photo essay: Random San Francisco

I love walking around San Francisco with a camera on my days off.  
These excursions tend to be spontaneous. I wake up, it's gorgeous outside, I have no pressing deadlines, I map a route in my mind and head out. 

Once in a blue moon, I post the photos the same day, or get some shots that I know will be a good fit for a future photo essay, but it's usually a one-off experience. I return home after the sun sets, delete duplicates, and upload the rest to my computer, where they take up space.

Until now. 

For this post, I'm raiding the vaults to rescue 46 photos for public consumption.

Click on any image to enlarge it and get a better sense of what I saw through the lens. (To skip the text, click on the image above, and scroll through the photos with your arrow keys.)


The opening photo was taken on Mission Street, early in the morning. I like the messiness of this shot, which has a smorgasbord of signs and colors crammed into a small frame. The man with slicked back hair is setting the backpack on one in a series of hooks that hang over the storefront entry. Bernal Heights Hill looms in the upper-left corner, just beneath the streetlamp. 

Here's the view from Bernal Heights Hill, looking on the Mission District.

Several hundred murals are on display throughout the Mission. 
The mural below graces the corner building at 25th and Bryant.


A few blocks away is "Amor Indo." 

San Francisco's population is a multi-ethnic stew
"El Inmigrante" reflects the Latino flavor of the Mission District.

Art fills a number of alleys in the Mission District. 
This photo was snapped in Clarion Alley, between Mission Street and Valencia.

Also in Clarion Alley is a mural of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Valencia Cyclery exhibited this mural for a brief time 
before mysteriously burying it under a coat of boring gray paint.

A flame continues to burn in this sidewalk stencil 
in the Valencia corridor, between 23rd and 24th.

A companion stencil on Bartlett, a block over.

One block west of Valencia is Lapidge Street, home to the Women's Building
Nobel winner Rigoberta Menchu's got the whole world in her hands.

A close-up.

Two blocks west of the Women's Building, a pair of parrots roost at the corner of 
Dolores and 18th while their color-coordinated friend sits inside the Dolores Park Cafe.

I'm not the only person getting in on this action.

Parallel jet streams trace the sky over Dolores Park.

Just up the street from Dolores Park, at 19th and Sanchez, are 
one of the many sets of stairs carved into sheer drop-offs in San Francisco.

Around the corner, in Eureka Valley, are the Cumberland Street stairs.

The long view.

A view from the stairs.
Cars pass, and sometimes people. 
Bikes are scarce. 

The 17th Street hill, about half a mile north, is even steeper 
(steep enough to warrant its own gradient sign).

Looking down 17th Street.

Just past 17th Street is the Haight-Ashbury District, which
has a number of homes with gingerbread trim.

The Haight is chock-full of Victorian architecture, 
including these fine turreted specimens on Center Avenue.

The Haight feeds into the vast playground of Golden Gate Park. 
Here, some Russian men play checkers at Spreckles Lake.

West of them is a trail that runs along the northern edge of the park, through the woods.

Behind them, off JFK Drive, are a bison enclosure

and serene casting pools.

Down the road from the casting pools is Ocean Beach. 
This concrete wall separates the beach from the boardwalk.

An important message.

A coastline, saturated in blue.


All the way across town from the ocean, on the bay, is a plaza behind the Ferry Buildinga San Francisco monument. The Bay Bridge is in the background.

Inside the Ferry Building.

The Ferry Building is near the foot of Broadway Street, which takes us to North Beach, best known for the BeatsThis photo of Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac was in the display case at City Lights Bookstore, the heart of North Beach.

Vesuvio's is a bar (across Jack Kerouac Alley from City Lights) 
with literary cred, a quality jazz soundtrack, and this mural along its side.

Overlooking North Beach is Coit Tower, which has a panoramic view of the bay. 
Here's a glance up at Coit Tower from the wooden stairs that climb Telegraph Hill, 

Just down the hill from Coit Tower, on the other side, is the Saints Peter and Paul Church.

North Beach is next door to Chinatown. 
In this photo, men play Chinese checkers at Portsmouth Square.

Chinatown abuts the Tenderloin, one of San Francisco's most colorful neighborhoods. 
This is the last block of Golden Gate Avenue before Market Street.

The Tenderloin has a lot of multi-story brick buildings like this one.

Entry gates are prominent,

as are catwalks which remind me of Little Italy.

The Tenderloin is Grand Central for pigeons. 
Here's a bird's eye view of the waterfalls at the U.N. Plaza.

A stone's throw from the waterfalls is the Orpheum Theater, 
which recently got a new paint job.


Also in the Tenderloin is my friend Judy, 
another long-term resident of this rich tapestry called San Francisco,

land of pink sunset skies.

Other "Truth and Beauty" photo essays:

"Gone but not Forgotten" is a tribute to a friend who left this world all too soon 

                                 "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" is a multi-neighborhood trek 
                                                         through San Francisco on September 9, 2013

"A Sunny* Monday in San Francisco" is a day tour of the city, 
from Mission Street to the Pacific Ocean

"California in November" captures deep fall natural splendor

"The Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the Marin Headlands

                 "Vintage Cars" is an evening tour of old automobiles in the Mission District 


  1. An interesting voyage into, and cross section of, San Francisco. I particularly enjoyed the wall art (love that stuff). Perhaps the shot of the gleaming cross on Saints Peter and Paul Church captured a serendipitous moment of divinity? :-)

  2. Glorious and beautiful tribute to your beloved city, Dan. I enjoyed it so much. Great job!

  3. The photographs are nothing short of magnifique! Makes me want to visit SF as soon as possible (like today). I liked the variety and color of your choices, a tribute to several different neighborhoods.

  4. fucking brilliant mate. when can i visit?

  5. I feel that I have been on a rich and transporting tour of that wonderful city, transported back to misty mornings, sun-filled days, and neon nights - I felt such nostalgia. Thank you for the ride.

  6. Thanks Dan. What a thrill to behold these images of SF. Great to see Judie also!! Evan

  7. Thanks!!! Makes me homesick. Did you take some of the photos in the Fall b/c of the beautiful weather in them?

  8. Hi Susan. I'm sure some of the photos were taken in the fall, but I didn't plan around the season. I was generally just following an impulse to take my camera out on warm, sunny days.

  9. Thank you for the memories of a lovely walk through my beloved City. I must return soon!

  10. Hi Dan great tour, please keep posting these great pics.Thanks

  11. Great eye and selection of images!

    Walk to Work Day is April 12 -- if you ever commute by foot, Walk SF has a contest for the "most interesting sight." There are details at

  12. Cathy QuistgardMay 8, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    What a wonderful trip to the most beautiful and unique city in the world! Now I'm REALLY homesick! Thanks.

  13. Love it so beautiful great job.

  14. Nice pics! Makes me miss San Francisco!

  15. Quite wonderful. I felt very connected to a city where I used to spend a good amount of time, where I wanted to go to college (a very long time ago), that I still love for so many reasons, starting with bunches of violets once sold at flower stalls near Union Square. Thank you for sharing all this.