Here’s a great video from 1940, highlighting some of the wonders of the City of San Francisco as it once was:
I have a few comments:
[UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Now that you’ve seen SF as it once was, you may find interesting my post about SF as it now is. In it, after describing the City of my own memories, I examine how the current Progressive City government tightly controls law abiding citizens and businesses, while allowing special interest groups to function without limitations. The result is a dangerous blend of totalitarian anarchy. And now back to my regularly scheduled post.]
Union Square is no longer a grass covered and palm treed oasis in the middle of the City. Because of the homeless, who saw the grass as a comfortable bed, the City removed all greenery. A good architect made the site rather elegant, but it’s still a cold, hard square compared to the lovely park it once was.
The grassy area and long fountain in front of City Hall are also gone — they too fell victim to the homeless. Rather than routing the homeless, the City routed the greenery.
Market Street too has changed. It’s definitely not a glittering, lovely thoroughfare, and hasn’t been in my remembered life. It’s worse now, though, then it was when I was growing up. For most of its length, it is filthy, with the corners manned by legions of homeless. I’d love to avoid it but, unfortunately, one of my carpools routinely takes me along a few unlovely blocks. My goal, always, is to avoid hitting the winos who weave through the streets, with no regard for street lights or cars.
The last shot of the western-most waterfront of San Francisco, at Ocean Beach, gives a hint of the vast, Coney Island-like park that was once there. When I was a child, all that remained was Playland at the Beach, an old fun house with wooden slides, rolling barrels and, of course, Laffing Sal. That’s all gone now too, with condos in place where fun once reigned.
The Legion of Honor and surrounding golf courses are as lovely now as they were then. The Museum has a really lovely, not quite first class, but almost first class, collection of European Art and objects, going back to the early Middle Ages. If you’re ever in the City, I highly recommend it. Then, walk around outside and admire the exquisite view looking north, over the bridge and into the Marin Headlands.
The Mint has long been closed. It sits there still, a silent, hulking shell.
The De Young Museum that I grew up with, and that appears in the video, has been torn down, and another one has taken its place. The new De Young is lovely on the inside, with flowing, well-designed galleries. On the outside it looks, I think, like a giant chicken coop. I have to admit to missing the old museum a lot, especially the Egyptian wing, which used to have mummies (very cool to a kid).
The guy narrating the video has the goofiest accent I’ve ever heard. He is not a San Franciscan.