California part II - San Francisco


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Published: September 21st 2014
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Rainbow flag at Harvey Milk PlazaRainbow flag at Harvey Milk PlazaRainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza

One who fought for gay rights in the 1970-ies was Harvey Milk. To honour his memory a square in Castro District has been named Harvey Milk Plaza.

San Francisco - City of rainbow flags and steep hills





A blog entry on San Francisco just has to include one of Ake's favourite jokes:

"How many straight men from San Francisco does it take to change a light bulb?"

"Both!".



The joke perhaps is not politically correct, but it is pretty funny the first time you hear it.



As you understand even before we came to San Francisco we knew we were about to visit a very LGBT friendly city. In the Castro District, San Francisco's gayborhood, every other house was displaying a rainbow flag. Just being in San Francisco we felt that it is a nice and friendly city. Probably the "LGBT friendliness" and the "nice and friendly" are very much connected to each other. If you are OK with people being lesbians, gays, bisexual or transsexual you are likely to be OK with people being tall, short, skinny, fat, black, white, yellow, bald or having unusual looking teeth. Or to make it short being "tolerant" and being "nice and friendly" is just two sides of the same coin.



In San Francisco, as in most
Golden Gate parkGolden Gate parkGolden Gate park

We had a walk in Golden Gate Park and came here
other places in the world, homosexuals has not always had the same rights as heterosexuals. One who fought for gay rights in the 1970-ies was Harvey Milk. He was in 1977 elected into the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He was the first openly homosexual to be elected to public office in the state of California. During his time in office he successfully promoted gay rights. His political career only lasted for 11 months because he was murdered in November 1978. To honour his memory a square in Castro District has been named Harvey Milk Plaza.



There is a movie named Milk, based on Harvey Milk's life, starring Sean Penn. We have not seen it but we will one day. It is probably pretty good. Has Sean Penn ever played in a crappy movie? So far we haven't seen any.



San Francisco has its fair share of steep hills. Some of the San Francisco streets are so steep that when you drive downhill you instinctively hold your breath and think "What if my breaks fail?". The steep streets of San Francisco are good looking and spectacular and because of that they have been used in
Steep HillSteep HillSteep Hill

San Francisco has its fair share of steep hills. The steep streets of San Francisco are good looking and spectacular and because of that they have been used in car chase scenes for instance in the movie Bullitt.
car chase scenes for instance in the movie Bullitt.



One unusually steep hillside in San Francisco is located on one block of Lombard Street. Lombard Street is also known as the Crookedest Street in the World. To make the street drivable in its steepest section they have built eight hairpin turns after each other.



However, it might be argued that another street in San Francisco is even more crooked. In one block of Vermont Street they have built seven hairpin turns after each other. Even though seven is fewer than eight, the seven hairpin turns of Vermont Street are tighter and hence are even more crooked than the eight hairpin turns of Lombard Street.



We never drove down Lombard Street, we only walked it. But we did take the car down Vermont Street so we have gone by car down one of the crooked streets of San Francisco.



In 1906 San Francisco was hit by a massive earthquake which destroyed much of the city. After the earthquake large fires broke out. The fires destroyed many of the buildings which survived the initial destruction. The fire fighters were powerless against the massive
Lombard Street Lombard Street Lombard Street

Lombard Street is also known as the Crookedest Street in the World. To make the street drivable in its steepest section they have built eight hairpin turns after each other.
fires because the earthquake not only destroyed the city above ground it also severely damaged the water supply system. In the Mission District one single fire hydrant worked after the earthquake. That fire hydrant supplied enough water for the firemen to put out all the fires in the district and thus saving many houses. The people of Mission District were so thankful that they afterwards painted the fire hydrant with golden paint, hence it is now known as the Golden Fire Hydrant. The tradition of painting the Golden Fire Hydrant lives on even today well over 100 years later.



Alcatraz Island is a genuine must-see place. Sometimes the must-see places of the world are not very interesting. Alcatraz though is well worth a visit. The tour of Alcatraz lets you see the prison including the prison cells, the guard rooms, shower rooms and the canteen. During the tour you get to know the history of the Alcatraz Island from being a military fort via being a federal prison to today when it is a protected National Historic Landmark.



Two events in the history of Alcatraz were covered in detail during the tour - the Battle of Alcatraz, an ill-fated
The Golden Fire HydrantThe Golden Fire HydrantThe Golden Fire Hydrant

In the Mission District one fire hydrant worked after the 1906 earthquake. That fire hydrant supplied water thus saving many houses. The people of Mission District were so thankful that they afterwards painted the fire hydrant with golden paint
escape attempt in 1946 in which five people were killed, and the escape attempt in 1962 when three prisoners managed to leave the island in a boat never to be caught again.



The escape of Alcatraz is a story so fantastic that it is hard to believe it to be true. In their beds the three escapees put fake heads to ensure that the guards would not notice the escape until the morning. The three then left their prison cells through holes in the walls, holes they had dug using only simple tools. They climbed up a ventilation shaft to the roof where they picked up a raft they had previously made in the prison workshop. The raft was made from raincoats among other things. On that raft they left the island and they are since then gone.



Did the three make it to the shore and into freedom or did the raft fail them causing them to drown. Mythbusters once tested if the raft could have made it all across the bay. They replicated the building process using the kind of equipment the escapees would have used and tested the raft. The MythBusters raft survived
Alcatraz IslandAlcatraz IslandAlcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island is a genuine must-see Place and is well worth a visit
the ride and consequently it is quite possible that the raft the escapees used survived the trip too. That would mean that the escape from Alcatraz might have been a success. It has also been shown that it is perfectly possible for a well trained person to swim from Alcatraz Island to the mainland so even if the raft failed on the way they may have survived anyway. Even so many believe that the escape failed and that the three prisoners drowned. The argument for that is that none of them has ever been seen again. All three were criminals and crime was their way of life. Criminals who escape prison usually go back to their old lifestyle and eventually they get caught. It is highly unlikely that all three, after succeeding to escape Alcatraz Prison, turned their life around completely and became law abiding citizens.



San Francisco has yet another must-see sight - the Golden Gate Bridge. Yes, the photo we took when we drove across the bridge is rubbish but we include it anyway. We don't take selfies, we take been-there-done-that-ies.



On the list of must-see sights in San Francisco we believe
Alcatraz Island + Golden Gate BridgeAlcatraz Island + Golden Gate BridgeAlcatraz Island + Golden Gate Bridge

Alcatraz Island with Golden Gate Bridge behind
we should add the cable car system. The cable cars used to be a part of the San Francisco's public transport system but is today mainly a tourist attraction.



We mentioned MythBusters further up in this blog entry. Ake is a big fan of MythBusters and to make him happy we looked up the address to M5 Industries, the workshop where they shoot the show, and went there and took a photo. They don't make tours of the premises and on their homepage they make it very clear that they don't want people coming knocking at their door. So stopping by and take a photo and leave was all we could do.



Fisherman's Wharf is a neighbourhood where there are several tourists attractions jammed together in one spot and where there are lots of restaurants and other entertainment venues. We went there and had a look but didn't stay long. But we stayed long enough to take several nice photos of a seagull so the visit paid off.



All the band members of Grateful Dead once lived in the same house at 710 Ashbury Street in San Francisco. That house is commonly known as the Grateful
Alcatraz IslandAlcatraz IslandAlcatraz Island

The tour of Alcatraz lets you see the prison
Dead House today. We had no idea about that house and would have missed it if we hadn't had help from a friend who lives not far from it. Thanks again Kevin for showing us!



By the way, in a blog entry we will publish later on we will show more houses where musicians have lived. But those houses are in New Jersey and before we publish that one we still have some more blog entries from California, and even one from Nevada, to publish.


Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


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Alcatraz IslandAlcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

Guard tower
Alcatraz Federal PenitentiaryAlcatraz Federal Penitentiary
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary

"Break the rules and you go to prison, break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz"
Alcatraz Federal PenitentiaryAlcatraz Federal Penitentiary
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary

Prison cells lined up
Alcatraz Federal PenitentiaryAlcatraz Federal Penitentiary
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary

The most famous inmates of Alcatraz. Al Capone is to the far left.
Alcatraz Federal PenitentiaryAlcatraz Federal Penitentiary
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary

In 1962 three inmates escaped through holes they had dug in the walls. They climbed up a ventilation shaft to the roof where they picked up a raft they had previously made. They left the island and have never been heard from since.
Golden Gate BridgeGolden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

the Golden Gate Bridge - another must-see sight
Golden Gate BridgeGolden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

Yes, this photo is rubbish but we include it anyway. We don't take selfies, we take been-there-done-that-ies.
Cable carCable car
Cable car

On the list of must-see sights in San Francisco we believe we should add the cable car system. The cable cars used to be a part of the San Francisco's public transport system but is today mainly a tourist attraction.
M5 IndustriesM5 Industries
M5 Industries

M5 Industries is where they shoot the show MythBusters
Fisherman's Wharf Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf is a neighbourhood where there are several tourists attractions jammed together in one spot and where there are lots of restaurants and other entertainment venues.
Grateful Dead HouseGrateful Dead House
Grateful Dead House

All the band members of Grateful Dead once lived in this house at 710 Ashbury Street, a house today commonly known as the Grateful Dead House
Grateful Dead paintingGrateful Dead painting
Grateful Dead painting

Grateful Dead painting on the sidewalk outside the Grateful Dead House
Steep San Francisco streetSteep San Francisco street
Steep San Francisco street

Some of the San Francisco streets are so steep that when you drive downhill you instinctively hold your breath and think "What if my breaks fail?"
Random housesRandom houses
Random houses

Just two houses we walked by. We like this kind of houses
Not a random housesNot a random houses
Not a random houses

The house in the middle looks funny, that's all


21st September 2014
Rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza

Same flag as Cusco's!
Wow, you really covered a lot and learned a lot! I love the Haight-Ashbury area (also has my favorite second-hand store), but I never saw the Grateful Dead house though I went to many of their concerts. And I know that scary feeling of driving those steep streets--you were very brave to do that! I also love the openness and tolerance of SF and your joke too. I'll have to tell that to my California and gay friends!
21st September 2014

San Francisco
Always great to see someone exploring and enjoying one of my favorite cities!
21st September 2014

San Fran
I'm not a fan of cities as a rule but gotta admit when one visits they are interesting. So it was great to read this well written blog which presented San Fran as city that has many sites and vibes that sounds like it is an intriguing place to visit.

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