We began our day at the San Francisco Railway Museum, a free gem stuffed with memorabilia of the antique streetcars of the F Market and Wharves, and national landmark cable cars that continue to run along the city's major arteries. Cable cars run on steel rails with a slot beneath them. Under the slot, below the street, is an endless cable powered by elaborate winding machinery in a central powerhouse. In 1957, San Fran became the last city to operate cable cars as something other than a tourist attraction.
Streetcars also run on steel rails, but have a trolley pole on the roof that connects to a single overhead electric wire.
|Clock Tower of Ferry Building peeks out behind sculpture
After negotiating massive Market Street, we entered a food and beverage paradise known as the Ferry Building. I was immediately jealous of anyone who lives or works near this mecca; the options for breakfast, lunch and dinner are endless! Designed in 1892 by American architect A. Page Brown in the Beaux Arts style, the building was completed in 1898. The entire length of the building on both sides is based on an arched arcade. Brown designed the clock tower after the 12-century Giralda bell tower in Seville, Spain; the 245-foot-tall tower has four clock dials, each 22 feet in diameter.
And elements of the structure, such as its mosaics, are captivating.
|Bottom: the Great Nave
A plaque to one side of the square notes: "Dedicated 4/29/1978 in observance of the Bechtel organization's 80th anniversary and the dedication of its 45 Fremont Street Building. This plaza honors the warm and gifted leader who guided Bechtel to a prominent and honorable worldwide role in engineering, construction and management of projects."
Tastefully tucked behind branching trees, a railroad car beckons gently with its curious name and ornate glass windows.
In the 1920s, the WaaTeeKaa was home to Steve and Laura Bechtel and their family at remote construction sites in the west. This vintage car has been restored to replicate the original. On 9/24/88, to commemorate Bechtel's 90th anniversary, the car was dedicated as the Bechtel Museum (free!) in honor of the can-do spirit of Bechtel's men and women: past, present and future. Inside the railroad car, the engineering achievements of the company's employees are documented, from public sights such as Hoover Dam and the Oakland Bay Bridge to less visible endeavors such as military ships and solar arrays. I didn't know much about Bechtel when I entered the plaza, but I was certainly educated and impressed when I left.
The Concord Coach - an original! One of ten
Wells Fargo ordered in 1867
|Only part of the map is shown
This 1874 map shows Wells Fargo's express routes by stagecoach (in red), by train (in black) and by steamship (dotted). Even with the expansion of the railway lines, many towns still depended on the stagecoach for connections to the world. From 1866 to 1869, Wells Fargo operated the major overland stagecoach routes west of the Missouri River, covering 2,500 miles of territory from Nebraska to California and north into Montana. So, the next time you want to complain about air travel, consider sharing the coach with 8 of your closest companions at a rate of 5 miles per hour!
While travel may have been challenging in those days, opulence and luxury could be found by those with the cold, hard cash. The famous Palace Hotel, upon its original construction in 1875, was the best and grandest hotel in America west of the Mississippi, and an icon of San Fran wealth and pride.
|In reflection, you can see some of the 63,000 panes comprising the glass ceiling
I found the marble, glass and crystal of the atrium mesmerizing.
Top middle: I wouldn't want to be the fellow in charge of cleaning the chandeliers!
Reluctantly, we parted ways with #1 Daughter; she split for work at the theater and we moseyed back to Berkeley from some nosh.
|Yes, that is Man with Hat!
Our memories of San Francisco will always be inextricably intertwined with our daughter, and this exceptional visit to the city.
I think I left part of my heart in San Francisco ... strolling arm-in-arm with #1 Daughter, a little bit of love and contentment spilled out.