Friday, November 10, 2023

My first time in San Francisco. Spring 1974.

A trip down memory lane. My first visit to San Francisco, Spring 1974; my freshman year in college at Bellingham. Judith (my sister who, back then lived in Bellingham) and I went to visit a brother Jack (back then a grad student at Stanford; Palo Alto area).

On our way to the Bellingham Greyhound Station (then on State Street) I gave a dollar (maybe a quarter back then) to a pan handler. My sister implied that giving to pan handlers could be overwhelming in the big city, but ironically that was the only pan handler who approached us, as I remember at least.

Most of our time was spent in Palo Alto area for the visit, but we planned a sightseeing trip to San Francisco; often affectionately called "The City."
Photo from old postcard showing downtown and Trans America Pyramid.

I forgot how we got up there; maybe by car or transit.

During my childhood, San Francisco seemed like a dream city by the Golden Gate Bridge. Home of some powerful 50,000 watt radio stations that provided a slight connection between my hometown life in Pullman and that city by the bay.
Old postcard from the 1970s. KGO is no longer a talk show station.

By the time I got to college, my view of that city became more tainted and a bit grimy, however. I had learned more about it's problems as well.

As I remember, we divided our sightseeing day into two parts. Morning at the De Young Museum and an afternoon of walking around looking at downtown buildings (my idea).

All I remember, from the museum, was some long lines, echoing spaces and lots of children on tour as if all the schools were taking field trips at once.

I remember snacking in a cafeteria and I guess the only display I remember was a moon rock. It was in a glass case guarded by a security guard.

The rest of the museum must have gone into my memory as a blur. Museums can be overwhelming with information overload; looking and reading quickly while moving on to the next.

Afternoon was walking around downtown. The buildings were quite fascinating, but there was a spooky, somewhat dangerous feel to the city.

As we passed the studios of one of the radio stations that I even had dreams about during childhood, the building looked small. It was KGO which was, back then, located in the somewhat scruffy Tenderloin District. As I remember, from lots of listening to that station it was at 277 Golden Gate Avenue.

Doors were locked tight, but my brother was able to find a doorbell, I think. A security guard only opened the door a slight crack and said, "no tours." He then shut the door quickly. Back then, a crime called the "Alphabet Bomber" was in Bay Area news.

The rest of our walk was more interesting with lots of beautiful vistas, art, architecture, cafes and so forth.

When we got to Trans America Pyramid the doors were open and a guard in the lobby said we could go up in an elevator to an office that wasn't leased so it was open for showing to potential tenants; I guess. That office was near the top; the actual top being a pinnacle, of course.

Another guard, in that lofty space, was quite friendly. We visited while taking in the panorama. The view was spectacular, but the windows only faced one direction, as I remember.
We stepped into the Hyatt Regency at Embarcadero and saw this impressive atrium. It was open to the public and full of shops and places to eat on the main floor. Picture from old postcard.

After our walk through downtown, I think we concluded that our walk around downtown was the most interesting part of the day.

I've been there a few other times in more recent years including passing through during bicycle trips down the coast.

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