The weather wasn’t cooperating today—it made everything appear low contrast and muted, and the skies were a misty, pale gray—so I decided to focus on looking closely, at small scenes just next to me as I traveled.

* * *

Color palette (detail): graffitied mural at the big intersection where Van Ness drops the “South”…

graffiti mural in SoMa - Mission

graffiti mural in SoMa - Mission

* * *

Pup gets a ride from his people up Van Ness…

dog getting a ride up Van Ness Avenue

* * *

Polk Street mural…

mural in Hemlock Alley off Polk Street

* * *

Vintage sign alerting you to the libations available within at the Hemlock

Hemlock Tavern window

* * *

I’d be curious to see the decor going on inside of this house (Polk Street), if this is only the front gate!

Polk Street

* * *

Russian Hill window frame. Reminds me vaguely of the arches and bottle-glass I learned about in Venice (back in the day, glass was super-expensive, so windows were made like this so that they could take damage and you’d only have to replace a small circle of glass—clever, clever.)…

Nob Hill window

* * *

House numbers. What is my obsession with house numbers all about? Typography and letterforms are something I’m knowledgeable about for my work, and and an area of interest, but I don’t seem to take note of the alphabet on display quite as much. I’m also really into mixed-media when I do personal work, so… I think it’s something to do with seeing these few simple characters, and how they can be represented in such a seemingly infinite variety of forms, materials, shapes, construction, colors, textures, finishes, and, context—they are like thousands of 3-D compositions, lined up along the streets!

Russian Hill house numbers

* * *

hand-formed, gold, slightly-shiny metal, set in gray and triangles;

mass-produced, practical (easily visible from the street), blocky light-on-dark, set in glossy black against rough orange brick, all rectangles and right angles;

DIY hardware store numbers, nailed to a plank nailed to a fence, X marks the spot inside the zero, unfinished wood, curlicues;

fat flourished gold numbers fixed directly to pale-olive wood, slightly crooked, complimenting the cottage-like lacey-curtained window…

* * *

Russian Hill house numbers

* * *

Still a nice view, even in grays…

Russian Hill view of Bay Bridge

* * *

Down into Chinatown.

Past life…

old furrier shop

* * *

Favorite house number of the day!

Chinatown door with Imperial Lion door knocker

* * *

Chinatown, bilingual street signs and dragon street lamps…

Washington and Grant street sign in Chinatown
lucky frog in Chinatown window
Grant Street in Chinatown

* * *

Grant Avenue panorama…

Grant Street in Chinatown

* * *

Detail (below) of the mural of the Terracotta Army on a Clay & Grant Ave building… I couldn’t find much, but I think this is a privately owned building, and the art has to do with the owner’s wish to revitalize Grant Avenue:

“Grant Avenue used to be the place where all the locals wanted to come just as much as the tourists, to eat, to shop,” said Betty Louie, whose family owns several retail and residential buildings in Chinatown. “There were tons of things to do. There were always exhibits, and that has just kind of fallen by the wayside.”

Terra Cotta army mural on Grant Street

* * *

(update, August 5: the life-size replicas of the terra-cotta soldiers mentioned in the article are now stationed along the canopy roof, in front of the mural!)

* * *

* * *

Color palette…

Chinatown

* * *

A very San Francisco shop window…

rainbow flag in window display in Chinatown

* * *

I haven’t been to the Musée Mécanique in years; this pressed penny machine is making me think I need to put a visit on the near-future itinerary…

penny pressing machine in Chinatown

window display in Chinatown

* * *

I had an appointment in Downtown that lasted several hours, and the sun came out while I was inside!

F Market streetcar and blue sky, Market Street shapes and colors…

street car and Market Street

* * *

United Nations Plaza, with City Hall beyond…

United Nations Plaza

* * *

Flea market in United Nations Plaza…

flea market in United Nations Plaza

* * *

Dropping off books at the SF Library Main Branch…

SF Public Library

* * *

Market Street…

Market Street

* * *

Okay, I gotta know why there are flying pianos attached to this SoMa apartment building…

flying pianos installation

Hey, pretty cool—they are by the same artists who made Language of the Birds (which, come to think of it, makes sense!). Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn made Caruso’s Dream from found materials (some sourced from the old Transbay Terminal) based on a story about opera singer Enrico Caruso’s reaction upon waking up during the 1906 Earthquake… if you google “Caruso’s Dream”, dozens of articles will come up; I found the info and images in this one and this one to be an interesting sampling… Now I want to try to make sure I see them at night 🙂

* * *

Mission Street, en route to the post office on Bryant…

SoMa street reflection

* * *

SF Oasis! The artists who have recently opened this venue have done amazing things with it!

SF Oasis

* * *

Blackout paint scratched off the glass at the old Paradise Lounge building—seems like someone else wondered what the workers inside have been up to as much as I have…

a look inside the old Paradise Lounge

* * *

Freeway underpass geometry…

under the freewayy

* * *

Almost there. I have no idea what this sticker is all about, but it made me smile. After a hectic day—appreciated! Thank you, Optimist Morgan.

07-10-15-ChinatownMarketSt33


Where should I go tomorrow?


  • MILES WALKED: about 7 miles
  • NEIGHBORHOODS: Civic Center, Tenderloin, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, SoMa, Mission District

(MAP TO COME!!)