I’ve been home working for a couple of days, so today I really wanted to get out for a long walk and go explore something special. I felt like being outdoors, and remembered the path leading up into Fort Mason from the Maritime Museum that I started on earlier this month, so I decided to point my compass in that direction after visiting Doctor G. Maybe I would walk over to the Golden Gate Bridge…?

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I’ve walked down Van Ness a few dozen times, so I decided to take Polk. This turned out to be an excellent choice, as there views like this (Presidio, Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge)…

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The final block of Francisco Street is so steep it has steps for a side walk, and is very picturesque. There is a staircase leading down towards the Bay at the end of the cul de sac, which of course I had to investigate…

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I wondered what this (below) might have been in a past life… and was a little saddened to see it colored blue and labeled “reservoir” on a map when I looked it up later (given the drought), but thought that it looked like it had been out of use for quite a while… yep, 75 years! A bit of further digging reveals that late last year the city bought the land, and (for better or for worse) will turn it into a 4.5 acre park and open space…

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View from the Maritime Park of Alcatraz beyond the pier, boats, and one of the people who uses this calm part of the Bay for getting in some laps…

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I climbed up the path with the big FORT MASON sign and went through the wooded area. Funny. You can live in a place so long that you’ve been to different locations that are just next to each other, but didn’t realize the two places should share a border on the map inside your mind. The path up from the Maritime Museum looks as if it leads into a larger park space, but (this is why I’m getting out more!) it takes you just over a hill and into the Fort Mason pavilion area, where all the shows and the Farmer’s Market are held. It’s yet another spot that has one of those views of the city that makes you want to stop and gaze for a while…

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(click me to expand and zoom and scroll)

(click me to expand and zoom and scroll)

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The Great Meadow Park…

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Boats in the Marina on the other side of the Fort Mason Center pavilions…

Fort Mason and marina

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You know what one of my other favorite sounds is? This one:

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I will say the Marina is kind of a trip to walk through when used to being downtown and in the Mission and Civic Center areas so much of the time. Everything here is very shiny and manicured… but the diversity of this city, all packed into such a small area, is one of the things I like best about it. And this spectacular art deco bridge and rolling hills aren’t bad either…

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This is the sidewalk on the other side of the field in the above photo. There are little steps leading down into the water at various intervals, just in case you ever need to sneak away on a boat under cover of night… or, um, launch your kayak like a normal person (I consume a lot of escapist fiction 😉 )…

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I had already traveled a few miles and was starting to feel the sun, so I looked at my map to decide how I wanted my walk to play out, and saw the Palace of Fine Arts was just around the corner. Perfect! I had been to the Exploratorium when it was still next to the Palace, but somehow never walked around the Palace grounds…

Truly, awe-inspiring…

Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts

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It’s undeniably beautiful, but I think it’s the scale of the place that just takes your breath away. I felt this same way when I first saw giant redwoods in Yosemite—it’s like your brain tries to process the “big”-ness, but isn’t quite sure how…

Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts

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This is an excerpt from a great website about the Palace:

“Widely considered the most beautiful structure at the (1915 World’s Fair), the Palace of Fine Arts … was the work of California architect Bernard Maybeck. Maybeck’s fantastic creation, inspired by a Piranesi engraving, featured a Roman ruin reflected in a pool. According to Maybeck, this ruin existed not for its own sake but to show ‘the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes.’ Like other features of the fair, the Palace was intended as ephemeral; at the close of the exposition, it would come down.”

Palace of Fine Arts

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But thank goodness it didn’t!!

Phoebe Hearst started an organization before the Fair was even over to make sure that the Palace lived on after the exhibitions, and since being rebuilt in the mid 1960s, it has remained the stunning landmark we have now…

Palace of Fine Arts

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I need a bigger camera…

Palace of Fine Arts

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Okay, I now completely understand why everyone wants to get married here. I have yet to see a concert or other performance here at the Theatre, but now I need to make that happen…

Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts

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The internet-machine maps suggested a route around Pacific Heights, but I enjoy a good hill, so I hiked up Scott Street…

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Took a brief breather in Alta Plaza Park (hello, Sutro Tower)…

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And then laughed when I accidentally walked into one of the more recognizable landmarks in the entire city, which many thousands of people usually take tour buses to go see, very intentionally… We’re just so full of landmarks here, you just trip over them every time you turn a corner 😉 I am speaking of the Painted Ladies, here seen from a slightly more intimate view than their usual “postcard row” depiction…

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And then through Lower Haight, where I encountered this mural, called “Two Beauties“, by artists Miss Van and Ciro Schu. Would like to know more about it, really love the color palette, and all of the different references working together so harmoniously…

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And these trees, hung with lanterns and dragons, on the border of Duboce Park…

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And then finally home, pleasantly exhausted.

Where should I go tomorrow?


  • MILES WALKED: 10.21
  • NEIGHBORHOODS: Russian Hill, Marina, Presidio, Cow Hollow, Pacific Heights, Alamo Square, Lower Haight, Duboce Triangle, Mission District
  • DESIGNATED LANDMARK: The Palace of Fine Arts (no. 88)

(MAP TO COME)