I like to walk the few blocks of Van Ness where City Hall is located and see it and all of the arts buildings lit up; they’re just as impressive in the day time, though, and especially pretty on a bright day…

San Francisco's City Hall

One of the Academy of Art University’s vintage cars in the lower Van Ness showcase… one of the Academy of Art University's vintage cars

New construction going up on Van Ness… 
cranes on Van Ness

cranes on Van Ness

Today my only destination was “Japantown”—I’ve been before, but only when going directly to a movie at the Kabuki, or to eat, and figured, “why not” and that it would make for a nice long walk. Decided to wander along the way, turning corners on whims… Found one of the staircases that connect some of the very steep, hilly street in San Francisco. It seemed almost like a secret passage, all trees and flowers and curving steps… 06-17-15-LafayetteJapanTown06

See, steep hills! One of those streets in Russian Hill where you can see alllllllll the way down through the city and to the bay, and catch a glimpse of the Bay Bridge…06-17-15-LafayetteJapanTown07

Sweetness' Ice Cream sign

Back across Van Ness and decided to keep going up (mostly) Pacific Street through Pacific Heights, only checking my map to make sure I kept headed in the direction of Japantown. This lovely church is on Van Ness along the way…
detail of church doorway architectureIt is St. Brigid Church, and it is on the SF Designated Landmark list for, among other things, surviving both major earthquakes of the past century, and because it “is an example of unique methods of construction having used San Francisco curbstones and crossing stones in the construction of its facade.” (List of some other unique qualifiers is here.)

detail of stone church doorway

Can’t get enough of the views of the bay from this part of town. Note Alcatraz (and… three tiny perfectly-timed people on Segways that I just noticed now are in the image, ha! I can’t decide if those things would be super fun or if I would feel like a complete goof… perhaps both! Should try…)view of the San Francisco Bay from Pacific Heights

Wedding cake reaching for the sky…06-17-15-LafayetteJapanTown12

I’d come across this park in a previous walk home, towards the end of an afternoon and running short on time, and so that day I just walked up the path I could see to sit on one of the benches for a few minutes before setting off again. It was one of the moments when I marveled at how many interesting and beautiful places there are in my home-base city that I never knew were there; quiet contentedness at filling in another hazy space in my mental map of town with firsthand sensory experience. I was happy to accidentally land here again today, and with time to look around… Weather was being friendly, too; didn’t hurt the sights…  06-17-15-LafayetteJapanTown13

And then, look, this beautiful, quiet clearing just behind a row of trees. I had to laugh; I’d technically been here but still not known this part was here to see. Seems like an idyllic place to eat lunch, bring a book. Spots like this that are free and open for anyone to inhabit form a large section of my catalogue of reasons I feel grateful that I get to live here…

panoramic view of the clearing in Lafayette Park

(click me to expand and zoom and scroll)

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BUT WAIT, there’s more… Ladies and gents (and me), welcome to Lafayette Park.

I live just near Dolores Park, everyone knows Golden Gate Park, and I’d happened upon a handful of the others which are within my usual haunts (our neighborhoods are like little tribes here; we know what to expect and are comfortable in them, and so we don’t always make a point to venture out), but had no idea Lafayette even existed.

It’s amazing!! How have I gone 10 years without coming here?! It’s one of those big, open spaces you can go to in ‘nature’ that makes you feel small, in a good way—like whatever might be bothering you is simply no big deal in the larger picture. Head-clearing, perspective, mind-quieting. I challenge you to go here and not find some serenity and otherwise be blown away by the 360-degree views of the city.  Photos don’t really do it justice. I know I’ll be back again. For now…

view of the bay from Lafayette Park

view of the Sutro Tower from Lafayette Park

Onward to Japantown…

Japantown Bridge

Japantown Peace Plaza

This is a book I found in a box of free books on the sidewalk earlier today in along my route in Russian Hill… it is filled with old botanical and anatomical drawings, and is practically tailor-made for me. I was so excited someone had left it free for the taking that I didn’t mind carrying it around with me all day, and stopped here in the Japantown Peace Plaza courtyard (pictured above) to take a breather look thought it for a bit.

photo of a book: The Art of Instruction




And back to the Mission. Vintage neon sighting:


Note to self: GPS tracking phone apps are great, but MAN do they drain batteries. I would have taken a few shots in Japantown but was under 10 percent charge once I got there. Japantown may have been my goal, but all of the hill climbing and finally discovering Lafayette Park won the day.

Where should I go tomorrow?

  • MILES WALKED: 9.27
  • ELEVATION INFO: Gain +675.9 ft; Max 391 ft, Min 37 ft
  • NEIGHBORHOODS: Civic Center, Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, Japantown, Western Addition, Mission District
  • DESIGNATED LANDMARKS: Saint Brigid Church (no. 252)

Temporary screen capture map: