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Subjective Guide to San Francisco

Started: 2017-12-23 17:40:31

Submitted: 2017-12-23 18:53:21

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator writes a San Francisco guidebook to get his family out of the house for Christmas

My family is visiting my house in San Francisco for Christmas, and in order to facilitate actually leaving the house while they're here, I've written up my favorite things to do in San Francisco, along with a few other things on my list, into my own guidebook, which I'm hereby making available for your amusement:

Subjective Guide to San Francisco (pdf)

I printed two copies at my local Office Depot (a block from Montgomery Station), one of which got the facing pages on the wrong side, so it looks a little weird, but it's still perfectly legible. My family is arriving in a few minutes, and I have high hopes that they'll find something interesting in it. (Full-color printing on demand is still a little expensive in 2017; if I had planned further in advance I might have had better luck with an online print shop. I could also print the book with a black-and-white interior, though the pictures I took and included in the book wouldn't look as good.)

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

Here's the introduction I wrote for the guide:


Living in San Francisco is a bit like living in Disneyland. Most days massive cruise ships dock at the Embarcadero and disgorge thousands of wide-eyed tourists, who step off the gangways blinking in the early-morning sun (or, more often, fog), clutching their backpacks and cameras and vaguely-worded glossy tourist brochures, and make their way into the city. They board chartered tour buses to take them on pre-packaged tours around the city, and shuffle down the Embarcadero to catch a ferry to Alcatraz or Sausalito. They stand at Pier 39 and listen to the sea lions and watch Karl the Fog blow in under the Golden Gate Bridge in the afternoon, then buy branded tourist hoodies because they're cold and they forgot to bring their own wrap.

I see the tourists every morning when I run along the Embarcadero, from my office near the Bay Bridge to Aquatic Park three miles away. I smile when I see them, quietly welcoming them to my city, hoping they enjoy their visit to the city I love.

(On my morning runs, the tourists are easy to avoid: they're slow, and tend to move in regular patterns up and down the Embarcadero. The commuters, though, are more troublesome: they move in packs, crossing the sidewalk in front of the Ferry Building together, scurrying perpendicular to my path, forcing me to weave around them because there are more of them than me and they have strength in numbers.)

This is my subjective guide to the things I've seen and enjoyed in nearly two years living in the City by the Bay (and a small number of things I haven't quite made it to yet). This is not an exhaustive guide of the things to see in the city (I have guidebooks – and the Internet – for that), but a collection of my thoughts on things I've seen and enjoyed. Much of this is drawn from blog posts I've written describing my travels, in the time-honored tradition of repackaging shorter serialized works into a single longer work (a tradition that goes back longer than "blogs" or even the Internet).

I have divided this guide into sections according to my interest. Engineering comes first (which, I hope, should be obvious, since it's my obsession as well as my profession), followed by military sites built to protect the harbor, science, architecture, walking, art, hiking, and a few other random things that didn't fit neatly into any other category.