It's the cool waters of the Pacific and the extreme location of San Francisco – a spit of land bordered by the sea on three sides but stuck to California's overheated surface – that define the city's unique weather.
We watch over and over again the dazzling unfolding of its most famous phenomenon: the fog slowly advancing from the Pacific and invading the bay and the metropolis.
In the process, the grandiose Golden Gate Bridge is the first major structure to be covered. Next is the famous Alcatraz prison island. As a rule, little by little, the fog completely or partially fades over the scenarios.
Icy Pacific Water vs Warm California Inland
Sometimes for long periods, sometimes for a few minutes. A phrase polemically attributed to Mark Twain sarcastically summarizes the instability of Frisco's climate: «The coldest winter I've ever been through was a summer in San Francisco. "
Since then, if anything has changed, it's the number of days without sun, which seems to have increased. Afternoon after afternoon, shortly after the fog sets in, we find ourselves yearning for the daily dose of the famous clam chowder, an invigorating clam broth, served inside a bun sourdough (made with vinegar dough) almost hollow.
The cold of the Pacific, however, forms the ideal conditions for a very peculiar community in Frisco. In the vicinity of Pier 39, the back wind catches us with a strange aroma.
Further on, on floating platforms, we come across hundreds of conflicting and noisy sea lions biting into each inch of space, indifferent to a crowd of spectators between the intrigued and the incredulous.
Pier 39: from Nautical Dock to Sea Lion Landing
Sea lions have colonized the San Francisco Bay for a long time. Until 1989, they clustered in an islet named Seal Rock. That same year, the Loma Prieta earthquake shook San Francisco. The animals moved in weight – a lot of weight, by the way – to Pier 39.
Their migration forced the removal of vessels that used to dock there to other docks. It generated theories that linked the two events. Skeptics claimed that it was a coincidence that, in fact, the sea lions there felt safe from their predators, the white sharks that patrol the surrounding waters.
Situated on the edge of the Fisherman's Wharf district, Pier 39 leads to a sea of other attractions between the market and showbiz and, to the relief of that walk of the merry ones, no longer the setback of the pestilence.
The Domain Shopping and Delights Frisco Tourists
There are shops, restaurants and carousels grouped together in a kind of large open-air shopping mall. They are live performances, plus the duo Marine Mammal Center and Aquarium of the Bay. This proliferation of street charms keeps the walkways overflowing with people and the cash registers tinkling with the constant inflow of greenbacks.
To the east, both in the direction of the Aquatic Park and in the opposite direction, the marginal is covered by trolleys colorful. We pass by odd-numbered docks. This sidewalk leads us to an assortment of historic seafood restaurants with Italian family names, such as the renowned Alioto's.
Next, we enter North Beach. Despite the name, the neighborhood is also Italian. It houses cafes and pizzerias flown over by flocks of escaped parakeets that give it an out-of-place aura of tropical exoticism.
North Beach. The San Francisco Beat Generation's Hyper-Creative Den
This was the area of the city preferred by the writers of the Beat Generation like Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti who, in the mid-fifties, moved from New York to reinforce their cultural encirclement of the most rigid values of American society.
Already in City by the Bay, they made the area's streets and cafe tables a launching pad for new civil rights and freedom of expression. His achievement began to become a reality when, in 1957, Ferlinghetti and the City Lights bookstore won a legal appeal against the censorship of the incendiary collection of poems “Howl", by Ginsberg.
The Beat Generation writers quickly made friends among the top figures in the San Francisco Renaissance, the city's avant-garde cultural movement that would enrich.
Between drugs, alternative forms of sexuality and a spontaneous interest in Eastern spirituality, liberating works like the autobiography “On The Road” [off the road] of Kerouac then gained an irreversible influence on American youth.
With the arrival of the following decade, the already worn-out Beat Generation made way for the Sixties Counterculture. In 1967, to the sound of the anthem “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)” sung by Scott McKenzie, dawned in the city Summer of Love, the local expression of culture hippie that swept the United States and the world.
The Sixties Counterculture Flower Children of Haight
Thousands of young people followed the song's lyrics and flocked from the four corners of the country adorned with flowers that they also distributed in the streets. They became known as the flower children.
Movement after movement, chain after chain, San Francisco became fond of its restless way of contesting and unlocking change. Some of its most creative neighborhoods today were central to past cultural revolutions. Haight became known as the G spot do Summer of Love and part of their old habits – like generating ideals – remain unchanged.
In addition to entities with enigmatic names such as the Anarchist Book Collective, the Red Vic Movie House cooperative and the Haight Asbury Food Program, bars, shops and workshops. with decorations possibly inspired by the lot of marijuana that circulates, allegedly “for medicinal purposes”.
North of Divisadero Street, the upper part of the neighborhood adds to the panorama a crowded proliferation of hairdressers, record stores and dedicated to skateboarders, not to mention gardening supplies.
"It's the third time they've been here, now they really have to pay toll!", warns a more extroverted member of a group of begging anarchists.
There is no way or why to avoid contacts of this kind. Wherever you go in the Haight and neighboring Ashbury, the streets boast graffiti surrealists. They are works of punks anachronistic, of eccentric and pseudo-displaced society artists who call the walks and the combies psychedelics parked off.
The Financial District Social Antipodes
In the absolute opposite of civilization, hovers the Financial District where corporate composure has the price always on the rise.
At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the benefits of the California Gold Rush made San Francisco the main financial center of the Pacific.
Since then, Montgomery Street has been known as «West Coast Wall Street» Home to some of the most powerful banking companies in the country.
Today, more than 30 financial institutions – several of them in the Fortune 500 index – have offices on their streets, most notably Wells Fargo and Bank of America, owner of the 555 skyscraper that stands out from California Street.
San Francisco and Silicon Valley: California and US Financial Engines
In terms of gross domestic product, San Francisco is the 18th city in the world and the ninth in the United States. In the 90s of the last century, its astronomical profits became closely linked to the revolution. dot com which erupted in Silicon Valley, the business domain located in the downtown area of neighboring San José.
By that time, the cyberpunks The city's ingenious people started a technological gestation nucleus there that would give rise to thousands of new companies. Many more programmers, computer engineers and designers joined the influx that also involved cadres of marketing, sales and other related areas.
Every time we, the reader and the world bought a new computer or program, or clicked on a touchpad or certain keys on laptops, tablets and smartphones, giants like Intel, Apple – Steve Jobs, its born ex-president in San Francisco – Google, Yahoo or Adobe, among many others, were getting richer.
Despite the bubble burst tech 2001, which bankrupted countless start ups, the huge bet on innovation has generated brands that are just as or more powerful that we only write our name out of conscience: Facebook, Instagram (and we'll stop here).
Unsurprisingly, Frisco also strengthened in other areas such as biotechnological and biomedical research.
The Real Estate and Social Reflection of Continuing Success
The profit and opportunities generated by tree Internet have transformed the city's social scene. As property values and wages have climbed to among the highest levels in the country, the cost of living has become too high for many middle-class families.
All of a sudden, they were forced to give up their places to investors and speculators, to partners in successful companies and to their hyper-trained senior management.
In the center of the metropolis, social refinement allowed the continuation of the upgrade reflected in the miraculous recoveries of the Embarcadero (dock area) and the districts of South Beach, Mission Bay, Cow Hollow, Noe Valley and Union and 24th Streets, among others, now endowed with exorbitantly priced restaurants, boutiques and stores.
San Francisco's Chinatown. Largest in North America
But not everything has changed. It is said that in San Francisco, the East meets the West. And there we found North America's largest Chinatown and one of the most numerous Chinese communities outside of Asia, spread over 22 blocks adorned with dragon-shaped street lamps and pagoda roofs.
A city by the bay remains also the ex libris of American liberalism. It houses the largest percentage of gays and lesbians in the big cities of the United States. And there is the largest number of homes inhabited by same-sex couples.
all neighborhoods of Frisco are experienced by the population gay but The Castro was promoted to headquarters.
It was there that the defense of their rights and the challenge against discrimination were organized and gained strength, supported by institutions such as the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center, by microphone poetry nights, by the Stich'n'Bitch – when they knitted in bars and cafes – and for various stops and protests.
The Castro was also the political territory of the popular Harvey Milk, local politician and activist gay, from 1973, five years before he was murdered.
Every year, efforts and convictions Gay Boys gain increased expression on one of the last Sundays in June. It is around this time that the famous Pride Parade takes place.
From ten in the morning to four in the afternoon, groups of protesters proudly display their sexuality. These are the cases of Dykes on Bikes, Drag Queens, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) or Leather Contingent (wearing leather and BDSM fans – Bondage, Domination and Sado-Masochism). San Francisco rejoices. As he has been living under the fog for a long time, he has not been ashamed for a long time.