Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Painted Ladies

Here we are at one of the most photographed sites in San Francisco. These are known as the "Painted Ladies" or the "Six Sisters" because they are perfectly lined in escalating formation. Across the street is Alamo square.

Across the street from the Painted Ladies, where we were taking photos, is a neat little park known as "Alamo Square". Alamo in Spanish means Poplar. In the 1800's the area was lined with poplar trees and was a resting spot for travelers. Below are views of the city I took from the park. It sits up on a hill and was the perfect place to snap photos.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cliff House

One of the more interesting places we visited while in San Francisco was Cliff House. Originally built in 1863, it is considered to be the "Crown Jewel" of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The original 1863 Cliff House structure was destroyed by fire Christmas day 1894. It was rebuilt in 1894 to resemble a beautiful French Chateau. It survived the 1906 earthquake only to be destroyed by fire on Sept 7th, 1907. This raging fired destroyed Cliff House in less than 2 hours. The 3rd Cliff House reopened July 1st, 1909 and was Neoclassical in design. Cliff House was finally acquired by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1977. Today it is a restaurant and gift shop. The views are spectacular and well worth the drive out.

You can learn more history & see vintage photos at CliffHouse.com

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fisherman's Wharf......

Fisherman's Wharf got mixed reviews when I was researching all of the "must see" places in San Francisco. They all were correct, depending on what you want to do while you are there. I say go, if you've never been. Pier 39 is definitely touristy, but if you want souvenirs, that's the best place to go. Pier 41 is really cool. It has organic groceries and coffee plus neat little shops. We ate at 3 different restaurants on the wharf and they all were excellent. I had some culture shock on the price of meals, but I soon got over it. If you go, be prepared that a dinner out might cost you $40-50.00 per person. It is a great opportunity to sample new dishes. While you're there don't miss the sea lions at Pier 39. They are so funny to see. They just pile up on top of each other on the floating docks. I did not realize that the sea lions have not always been there. Apparently they did not show up until 1989 after the earthquake. By 1990 there were about 300 sea lions, this number can grow as large as 600 during the winter months. Most of the sea lions migrate during the summer but there is a small group that have decided not to leave.

This first photo was taken from the wharf looking out towards Alcatraz.

Alcatraz....the Prison

When we started planning out our trip to San Francisco, we weren't sure if we wanted to go to Alcatraz. It didn't really seem all the exciting. After talking to several people, we decided it was definitely something we shouldn't miss. I'm glad we went. It's definitely worth going to see and actually very beautiful. Here's a little history: In 1854 the first lighthouse on the Pacific coast began operation on Alcatraz. In 1861 the first civilian prisoners arrive on Alcatraz. In 1915 Alcatraz formally becomes "Pacific Branch, US Disciplinary Barracks" a military prison. In 1934 after transfer from the War Department to the Department of Justice, Alcatraz reopens as a federal penitentiary. In 1963 Robert F Kennedy orders Alcatraz closed. In 1973 the National Park Service developed interpretive programs, and the first visitors arrive on Alcatraz. The cell house was never filled to capacity. It could hold 336 prisoners, but the average number was 260 and the max was 302. There were no executions on Alcatraz, but there were 5 suicides and eight murders. Prisoners remained on Alcatraz an average of 8-10 years, until they were no longer considered to be disruptive or incorrigible. There were no female correctional officers or prisoners on Alcatraz. The only females on the island were officers' wives and children.