Flashback Friday

(Maiden Lane, San Francisco, CA. April 2006)

There are drawbacks to having a digital camera. The main drawback, as I see it, is that I take way too many photos. Having taken all those photos, I now have to find a way to organize and archive them.

I’ve had the digital camera for almost a year (got it for Christmas last year). Almost a year’s worth of taking way too many photos has made figuring out the organizing and achiving of said photos an extremely daunting task. However, I’m sort of enjoying the task as it’s given me a chance to go back through the year, once again enjoying some good times.

The photos for this entry are of Maiden Lane in San Francisco. These are some of the first photos I took on that trip. The very first photo I took in SF, in case anyone wants to know, is of my sister (T) and sister-in-law (K) sitting at the counter at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe. If you ever get to San Francisco, I highly recommend Dottie’s for breakfast. So do a lot of other people. If you get there after 8:00am, there’s a line out the door and up the street waiting to get in. That link, by the way, leads to one of the best reviews of Dottie’s that I’ve found on the internet. I had the best breakfast EVER at Dottie’s. They have all kinds of yummy stuff on the menu including things like zucchini bread french toast and buckwheat pancakes. During our first breakfast there (we dined there twice), I had an omelet that was stuffed with asparagus, several kinds of mushrooms, goat cheese, and I can’t remember what all else. Dottie’s homefries are to die for. And the toast! They make their own bread at Dottie’s. The toast I had was buttermilk dill bread. Yum.

Maiden Lane is in the Union Square neighborhood of San Francisco. It stretches for two blocks, between Stockton and Kearny streets. San Francisco’s only Frank Lloyd Wright building, built in 1949, is on Maiden Lane (it houses the Xanadu Gallery, to the left in the second photo, and has the same circular feature as the Guggenheim Museum in New York). The road is gated and allows foot traffic only between the daytime hours of 11-5.

One of the interesting facts about Maiden Lane is that it used to be (about 100 years ago or so) one of San Francisco’s sleaziest districts. The name used to be Morton Street. At least one murder a week was reported from Maiden Lane in the late 19th century. Herbert Asbury, writing in The Barbary Coast, described Maiden Lane:

The worst cribs in San Francisco were probably those which lined both sides of Morton Street (Maiden Lane)… These dens were occupied by women of all colors and nationalities; there were even a few Chinese and Japanese girls. And not only were the Morton Street cribs the lowest in San Francisco’s red light district; they were also the most popular, partly because of the great variety and extraordinary depravity of the women to be found there, and partly because the police seldom entered the street unless compelled to do so by a murder or a serious shooting or stabbing affray. Ordinary fights and assaults were ignored…

There’s more than a little irony involved in the renaming of Morton Street to Maiden Lane. The rowdy ladies that once lived there were hardly maidens. The fire of 1906 destroyed the brothels, and the street reemerged as Maiden Lane.

Maiden Lane has come a long way since those days. It’s now an upscale shopping enclave (with a few chi-chi cafes thrown in) just around the corner from Hermes.

T, K and I walked down Maiden Lane fairly early on a Sunday morning so we missed the set-up of the tables and umbrellas put out by the little cafes along the street. There was very little car or foot traffic out and about when we first started our walking tour of San Francisco. One of the things I enjoyed most about The City was exploring streets like Maiden Lane and the alleyways of Chinatown.

I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to San Francisco. I’m hoping to get back there again someday. I’d pull up stakes and move out there right now if I could afford it. Unfortunately, it’s too expensive for the likes of me. We had a lot of rain during our trip (too much), but it didn’t spoil things too much (or much at all). T, K and I had some nice weather our first day out and about. I think our last day was pretty nice, too. In between, it rained. They had record rainfalls out there and we witnessed some of it. Still and all, even though The City (and the state of California) didn’t show us her best weather, I can’t wait to go back.

You wouldn’t think such a place as San Francisco could exist. The wonderful sunlight there, the hills, the great bridges, the Pacific at your shoes. Beautiful Chinatown. Every race in the world. The sardine fleets sailing out. The little cable-cars whizzing down The City hills. And all the people are open and friendly. — Dylan Thomas

NaBloPoMo: Day 3