Visible from atop the Twin Peaks overlook and all along Market Street is the tower of the first steel reinforced building in the city. The clocktower above Ferry Plaza survived the big quake of 1906. Back in the day, all 4 tracks of rail on Market Street looped around in front of the clocktower as pedestrian bridges carried folks to the extensive ferry system in existence before the Bay Bridge was completed in 1937 before the World's Fair, then called, the International Golden Gate Exposition, on Treasure Island.
The second-most often asked question after, "Do you go to Fisherman's Wharf?" is the less specific, "Do you go to the piers?" All other variations on this theme are, "Do you go to the bay? the ocean? and the waterfront? Except for the specific 'Fisherman's Wharf?' the answer is always 'yes!'
San Francisco is on a peninsula and is surrounded by water on three sides: to the north the east and the west. Any crosstown bus goes to water. All downtown buses go to water. Indeed, San Francisco was started on a beach where the bay indented into a nice quay, protected from a direct line to the ocean at the Golden Gate.
Sir Francis Drake passed by the Gate because he thought Angel Island was a continuous land bridge preventing an entry. It wasn’t until a hundred years later when the Spanish Army tread upon the Presidio, was it ‘discovered’ that indeed there was an inlet for a large interior bay.
The Ferry Plaza is a great ground zero for our address system, and for the pier numbering system. This could be considered our town square, although it is configured as rays leaving a sun. Everything like tree branches splits off and divides the farther you get away from Market Street, the main promenade.
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Named by mayor James Van Ness in 1856, this 12.7 acre park in the middle of Victorian Mansions built during the 1870's to the 1920's, was noted as a watering hole in between the Commandant's quarters in the Presidio, to the Mission Delores Basilica, both occupied and controlled by the Spanish, who were the first inhabitants of San Francisco. A lone Alamo, or Cottonwood tree, marked the watering hole for both Spanish Army soldiers and later, San Francisco residents.
If you look at Hayes Street between Pierce and Scott, and the southern edge of the park's sidewalk, you can still see water weeping from the ground marking where this lone Cottonwood tree stood, marking the tiny oasis. This natural spring is more evident after a heavy rainfall. The steep grade running through the middle of the park is part of an unlisted fault line running through the city from the Presidio by the Lake District to the Bayview and the Hunter's Point shipyard area.
Alamo Square has become a tourist must see spot to view the Painted Ladies, San Francisco's first tract housing: houses built with no owner in mind. Most of the mansions built in the neighborhood followed the pattern of most home building at the turn of the century: houses were built by the owner to be, and contracted out by a carpenter and builder known to the would be owner.
The Alamo Square, or 'Lone Cottonwood,' is accessible on the 21 Hayes line which can take you from Ferry Plaza and the SF Railway Museum, all the way to Golden Gate Park. There you can transfer to the 5R Fulton and traverse the entire 3.5 mile journey along the park to Ocean Beach for a view of Cliff House and Seal Rock.
In any event, the 21 Hayes can easily qualify as the Trolleybus to Happy Destiny as it slices through the Heart of San Francisco!
Many ask this question, and we driver's know who you are: Someone who has never driven for a living before. There are many negatives to being a driver, but not usually what you may think if all you've ever known is an office desk or retail floorspace. In most respects, an office job is a superior job, unless you are like most drivers, independent, and not a fan of office politics. The love of driving should be in your blood, and you know it. Indeed, the life of a driver does involve politics to some degree, but only in a larger sense like city government's rules and regulations such as parking tickets or moving violations.
No, the life of a driver is one more like that of a writer: interest in the people that cross your path. Tour bus driver guide, shuttle driver, taxi driver, and in delivery services, we get in get out, and have command of our own ship, so to speak, like our hero Robert Di Nero in the movie Brazil.
We learn the art of understanding and dealing with dispatchers or how to get a signature if squaring a delivery. We know what paths not to take during certain times, and secrets about how to cut delays. We have a many times thankless job, but we still have our own independence and ability to keep to ourselves when all is quiet. Kind of like an editor's job reviewing a book for publication!
As long as our vision is clear and our hearing is good, we are good to go. With blood sugar and blood pressure in a normal range, we can continue in service as long as we shall live, so help us God. We can stay behind the wheel for as long as we shall live.
Stress on our bodies over the years, then, is our final enemy. And when I (finally) see I am this enemy of my worst self, lest I think I have a new trick to try and keep and love as my own, the Trolleybus of Happy Destiny awaits us at any corner and on any track!
Link below for article on Dao series--
Find out more button links to Balboa Press, and my hardcover and softcover full versions-- public transportation
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