San Francisco (and Environs): 17th Street Feb 2008

One day in February 2008 it wasn't raining so I walked the length of 17th Street, snapping photos along the way.

Top End (Stanyan)
Top End (Stanyan) Bryan Clair, a mathematician, found a driving route from Noe Valley to to Parnassus Heights whose turns were all forced: the driver never had to decide when to turn, the road always forced it. In a few places, the driver has to decide which way to turn. This was one of those places.
Bubble fluid
Bubble fluid On display in a window of this house: more bubble fluid than you would expect. You see the bottles in the window and you think if I didn't know better, I might think that those were bubble fluid. But they are bubble fluid and that is what they are.
Big tree, by urban standards
Big tree, by urban standards Occasionally you go to places like Nelson, New Zealand and you tromp around wondering what sorts of things they find really remarkable. They really like trees from California. It's too easy to take those trees for granted. But they're quite extraordinary. Whoop, up they go!
Scenic Drive vs Bay Area Ridge Trail
Scenic Drive vs Bay Area Ridge Trail This intersection with Clayton had both a 49 Mile Scenic drive sign and a Bay Area Ridge Trail sign. (The 49 Mile Scenic drive sign didn't make it into the photo, so don't feel bad for not spotting it.) (Well, it did make it into the photo but it was so faded that it wasn't legible, so I cropped it out.) (And it looked pretty old, so I'm not even sure if this is still part of the 49 mile scenic drive. There used to be one of those signs outside of my apartment building, but it fell down and was never replaced. That was kind of a relief; my ugly apartment building is a Class VII manifestation of anti-scenic force.)
Secret Stairs
Secret Stairs This secret stairway, near Clayton, leads to the unlabeled monument. Nothing has a name, and yet it is all right there. You can almost taste the mysteriousness-ness-ness.
17% Here is a mnemonic: how steep is 17th Street? 17%. OK, that's not a very interesting mnemonic, but it works. When I'm downtown and I think I'm too keyed up to sleep, I catch a streetcar to the bottom of this hill and walk up, fast. Then I have no trouble sleeping.
Bamboo Grove
Bamboo Grove I think pandas live in the hills and eat bamboo. This is a hill and there is a bamboo grove, but there are no pandas. I think that the hill is too steep here, and that the pandas have rolled away. Wave bye-bye at the pandas. Bye-bye!
Steps to Corbett
Steps to Corbett I was on a mission: to walk the length of 17th Street. But there was always a temptation to go do something else. Here was a gratuitous stairway, trying to lure me away to Corbett Avenue. Maybe I should have gone that way. I vaguely remember encountering some interesting utility poles while lost around Corbett or Mars or somewhere like that. But this time, I stuck to the plan.
Utility Pole near Temple St
Utility Pole near Temple St I'd been reading Brian Hayes' book Infrastructure couldn't stop looking at utility poles. It's not unusual for there to be some "leftover" cable on a utility pole. This pole's leftover cable seemed pretty sloppy, though. Usually it's neatly looped up.
Hasher Spoor
Hasher Spoor Despite the hill's steepness, Hashers had been this way recently. If I were better at reading tracks, maybe I would have known whether they were running uphill or downhill.
Ord St
Ord St It is a steep hill. Things are all tilty. And then behind those things you see: the hill. It's like these things are on top of the hill, but the hill is so steep that it is, in turn, on top of these things. Consider.
Diamond St: Forced Turn
Diamond St: Forced Turn Bryan Clair, a mathematician, found a driving route from Noe Valley to to Parnassus Heights whose turns were all forced: the driver never had to decide when to turn, the road always forced it. In a few places, the driver has to decide which way to turn. This was another one of those places.
Intersection with Castro
Intersection with Castro This is what it looks like during the daytime and not everyone's dressed up in Hallowe'en costumes. Oh, wait, there aren't big Hallowe'en parties in the Castro anymore, are there? Just forget I mentioned that, then.
Health Center
Health Center This is the Health Center, it is the center of local health. I am not sure what that means. I guess it means cinder block and strange twisty trees.
Launderland "Sanchez Street" sounds ordinary and boring... until you find out it's the home of Launderland!
Everett Middle School
Everett Middle School I did not go to Everett Middle School. I know some people who did, and they had good things to say about it. They didn't say "It's big and kind of yellow," which probably means that they learned a deeper appreciation for the school's qualities than I did when I walked past it.
Mission Dolores
Mission Dolores Mission Dolores is not on 17th Street. It's about half a block away. You can sort of see its red roof through the trees there. No, don't look at the tall steeple. That church was built next to the historic Mission Dolores. Ah, the historic Mission Dolores, where our region's rich culture of European oppression began!
Launderette "Guerrero", unlike "Sanchez" sounds like a happening, bustling street, perhaps with fistfights. And yet, there were no fistfights. There was a launderette [sic], though.
Valencia All philosophers agree: You really learn to appreciate a street after you wheel a bench along it. I don't know that all philosophers agree on that, actually. But I don't think I've heard any of them disagree. Anyhow, I have pushed a van bench along this stretch of street. And now I appreciate. Maybe. I won't forget it, anyhow. Well, I haven't forgotten it yet, anyow.
Hoff Shoe Repair, Buddhist Temple
Hoff Shoe Repair, Buddhist Temple The people at the Buddhist temple want you to live in the moment. The people at Hoff Shoe Repair fix your shoes while you wait. Compare and contrast.
Thrift Town
Thrift Town Mural-covered alleys, graffiti, these are all well and good. But then there is Thrift Town, at once separate and defining the greater unity. Which is another way of saying that I no longer remember why I took this photo.
Capp St: Werk Statt
Capp St: Werk Statt I'm not sure why, but those aren't the curtains I'd expect to see at a motorcycle service place. Maybe that says more about me than it says about this motorcycle service place.
Gas Station at South Van Ness
Gas Station at South Van Ness One year, some of my high school chums and I went to see the Carnaval parade. We were standing here, watching a float go by. On the float, there were dancers. But then, suddenly, all the dancers were hopping off of the float, jogging along the street. And then the reason became clear: the float had separated from its towing vehicle's tow hitch, was rolling free. It rolled like an amiable juggernaut, slowed to a stop. There were no injuries that I recall, but some people had to get out of the way in a hurry.
Ritespot What a great sign.
Joined I doubt that you will see this if you go to 17th and Folsom. Surely this mess has been cleaned up by now. Surely.
Cyclone at Treat Street
Cyclone at Treat Street I'd been reading the book Infrastructure, a Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape and thus I knew that this metal funneloid was a cyclone. A workshop that generates a lot of sawdust can blow its dusty air into a cyclone on the roof. The air swirls about, slows down. The dust settles down, so you can clean it out; the clean air escapes.
Lofts @ Harrison
Lofts @ Harrison Fifty years from now, people will look at this and say, "That was built in the late nineties to early aughts."
Parking Space on Florida
Parking Space on Florida There is often a parking space here. I think some of the high school chums parked here when we went to see the Eighteen Mighty Mountain Warriors at Noh Space. I think that one of my team-mates parked here before we went off to play some weekend-long Game. I might be mis-remembering the occasions. There's a piece of my brain that's dedicated to parking spaces, but I'm not careful about correlating those parking space memories with memories of... whatever we were planning to do nearby.
Franklin Square
Franklin Square A good place to soak up some rays.
Bus Depot at Bryant
Bus Depot at Bryant One day they will rise up and devour us all. Until that day, they lurk and wait.
Hampshire: McGrouther-Conradi
Hampshire: McGrouther-Conradi A name written above a doorway in the medium of upholstery tacks. Some later web research suggests that McGrouther-Conradi was a furniture manufacturer. Perhaps they operated out of this building.
Potrero: Downtown Skyline
Potrero: Downtown Skyline After weeks of rain, a cloudless day.
Potrero: Winter Wonderland
Potrero: Winter Wonderland A... I suppose it's a rooftop garden on a building next to the gas station. Painted glass windows, painted with a winter landscape with snowmen. Among the things you would least expect to see next to a gas station, it would be in the top ten.
Caffeine is OK Though
Caffeine is OK Though This convenience store lets you know up front: it won't sell you alcohol, cigarettes, or lottery tickets. I wonder what other things it won't sell you. "No comic books about chimpanzees available at this time"
San Bruno Ave
San Bruno Ave The freeway passes over 17th Street around here. I go past this spot every commuting day. I don't usually look up. That big white building is a UPS depot. They have a big sign that displays contextually irrelevant advertising. I don't want to see it. So I keep my head down as my bus goes past this spot.
San Bruno Ave: Utility Box
San Bruno Ave: Utility Box This utility box features vents, a padlock, and orange peel fragments. I can not tell what it is for. What sorts of utility boxes need vents? Probably many of them do.
Farwest Farwest
Farwest Farwest Under the highway, around where the 101 and 80 split. Sometimes I see "FARWEST FARWEST" on the backs of signs. I rarely see one "FARWEST".
Kansas: Route 40
Kansas: Route 40 Interstate 40 passed through the STaTe of Kansas. San Francisco's Bike Route 40 passes along Kansas STreeT. This confirms the power of language to find connections where there are none.
Disco at De Haro
Disco at De Haro This building has a strange triangular shape, as seen from the air. If you look at this neighborhood from the air, there's a diagonal not-a-street that passes diagonally from Alameda and Vermont to 19th and Arkansas. Maybe this is vestiges of an old railway line? I think that this neighborhood used to be more industrial, and I think that industrial neighborhoods were served by railway lines. Or maybe 9th Street used to extend further southeast than it does now?
Empty Lot
Empty Lot An extension of that diagonal line: an empty lot. Not all of the space in this area of the city is used. If there were more of these, it would remind me of St Louis.
Not Jamba Juice
Not Jamba Juice Former world headquarters of Jamba Juice before they moved to Emeryville. (Please pardon the quality of this stitched panorama.) Months later, no-one had taken over the space. I imagine the prospective tenants: "You said it was painted carrot and pomegranate, but I didn't understand the consequences."
Jackson Playground
Jackson Playground Playground. Play structure. Hill. Those are long shadows in the grass, yes. This was early in the morning.
Across from Jackson Playground
Across from Jackson Playground What is across from Jackson Playground? A pub. Intermodal freight. And, just this once, a little red car. Why does insulation hang down off of the overhead cables? Gravity, kids, gravity.
Missouri: Art; Skyline
Missouri: Art; Skyline A catalog of things seen: Truck. Mailbox. Wall. Shadows of power lines. Window. Art. Sidewalk. Bollards. Parking sign. Utility pole. Overhead cable. Trees. Vehicles. Person. Street sign. "URES". Highway. San Francisco skyline. Sky.
Bottom of the Hill
Bottom of the Hill I hadn't been to a show at the Bottom of the Hill in a few years. It seems like they don't get so many good shows since the fire.
Mississippi Freway
Mississippi Freway "Mississippi", "Freeway", Freeway, "Mississippi".
Warehouse There is a power pole. There is a shadow of a power pole. There is a light. There is a shadow of a light. How can there be a shadow of a light? Because the light is not turned on; it is daytime. Yes. Someone removes graffiti from this wall, though it is a wall that lacks distinguishing features. You would think they would welcome some graffiti, some detail.
Pennsylvania: the Beginning
Pennsylvania: the Beginning There is a white line painted on the ground; it rounds a corner. That is the start of 17th Street. From these humble beginnings, a street that crosses half the city. I'm not sure this counts as a genuine street. It's a semi-paved, semi-wild are in the inter-something zone between some buildings and some railway land. Half-urban, half-wild, like a little patch of Memphis that we can call our own.


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