August 30, 2023. I took a variety of transit for this expedition. I went by bus to Jack London Square to get the ferry to San Francisco. Walked up to Powell and got the Powell Hyde cable car to Francisco Park. The cable car is so fun! I was directed to sit inside at first but after a few stops I swung myself out to a standing spot on the outside of the car. Haven’t done that for years!
Francisco Park opened last spring on the site of the old Francisco Reservoir which went out of service in 1940. There’s a big lawn and playground where the reservoir used to be. Goats (!) were hired to clear out the blackberry and weeds before the mostly native landscaping was installed. The steep lower section has a wide raised path that snakes down to Bay Street and has a terrific view. The park was privately funded and given to the City. Sweet.
I walked down to the Maritime Museum which has, drum roll, please, dioramas! Wheee! It opened in 1939 as a bathhouse for visitors to the beach. The dioramas show some of the ships docked at Hyde Street pier along with wharf side activity.
There are also displays about a young Japanese guy who was the first to sail non-stop solo across the Pacific Ocean in 1962. No one knew he was coming; he just showed up with no passport and no money. He did it again last year and became the oldest man to sail the Pacific nonstop, and solo!
The museum is full of beautiful murals and tile work by WPA artists. Most murals of this era are social realist in style, like the ones at Coit Tower. The ones here are fantastic, semi abstract under sea scenes and landscapes. The tile mural on the deck is unfinished because the city leased out most of what was supposed to be a public bathhouse to be operated as a casino, and the artist quit in protest.
My next stop was a few blocks down at the Museum of the Eye. Near the entry is this wall sized mural of glass eyeballs. There are some other graphic displays and historical medical equipment. I was hoping it would be a bit grislier, like Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum. Still worth a visit!
Next, I visited Black Point Historic Gardens, which is San Francisco’s newest national park! It opened two years ago. Photos online made it look pretty spiffy but it’s clearly not quite finished or grown in yet. It’ll probably look better next summer.
I walked up the road and down the stairs through Fort Mason stopped for a drink at The Interval. This bar is connected with the Long Now Foundation which is devoted to long term (10,000 years) thinking and responsibility. This cool space has a browsing library, a robot-operated chalkboard and a model of a 10,000 year clock that features solar system planets visible to the naked eye. Terrific drinks too.