Lockdown journey through a silenced San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The late San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen was fond of claiming, “One day if I go to heaven … I’ll and look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.‘”

I’ve thought of these phrases typically as I’ve wandered through town lately, its vibrancy now silenced by the coronavirus pandemic. Normally, the months main into summer season convey bustling crowds to town’s well-known landmarks. This yr, they sit empty and quiet. Some components are ghost cities, scenes from a science fiction film. With so few individuals about, and so many companies closed, its starkness has known as out to me in black and white.

At the nook of Powell and Market streets, pigeons stroll throughout an empty cable automotive turntable — one normally surrounded by dozens of vacationers ready to board. In Union Square, the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, recognized for its Beefeater doormen, is boarded up with plywood, together with a variety of luxurious retail retailers close by. The entryway of John’s Grill, residence of the Maltese Falcon, is roofed with black plywood. Here and there within the monetary district are lone joggers and walkers, a distinction from the ocean of individuals normally filling the streets on their method to and from work.

On the normally packed crooked road, Lombard, solely an occasional automotive passes down its eight hairpin turns. The seafood sellers’ stands at Fisherman’s Wharf sit empty, with no steam pouring out of the crab-boiling pots. Bay cruise boats sit tied up at a pier behind an previous neon signal urging vacationers to view Alcatraz — which, like so many different iconic San Francisco locations, has been closed for greater than two months.

This can be the time of yr when baseball followers would fill the 40,000-seat Oracle Park to look at the San Francisco Giants. The park now sits hauntingly empty as scant individuals make their means round statues of Juan Marichal, Willie Mays and others surrounding it.

Walking on a current morning through the favored Ferry Building Marketplace on the foot of Market Street, I noticed solely two of its few dozen companies open — an empanada stand and a bread bakery. Hardly any commuters have been passing through the constructing, the results of most downtown companies being closed and sparse service from the ferries that shuttle individuals throughout the bay.

In Chinatown, lanterns swayed above Grant Avenue lined with closed retailers behind steel gates and pull-down doorways. About the one factor open in addition to a couple of electronics shops was a poultry butcher store.

In North Beach, town’s “Little Italy,” solely a few locations are open for takeout. Most of the nightclubs, eating places and cafes are shuttered. The site visitors is so mild that I can simply cease in the midst of Columbus Street and take within the view of gorgeous late mild falling on Francis Ford Coppola’s historic 1907 Sentinel Building, a copper-green Flatiron fashion construction with the Transamerica Pyramid behind it.

Some pluses throughout this time:

I used to be capable of get across the metropolis in simply lower than half the time it usually takes and will park virtually instantly in entrance of a lot of the locations I visited. Many locations took on a distinctive magnificence with out individuals surrounding them Shadows of cypress bushes fell on the Lincoln Park Golf Course with Sutro Tower within the background. The empty ruins of the Sutro Baths sat quietly under the shuttered Cliff House with the sound of waves within the distance. Late mild fell down Hyde Street onto the previous ships under on the Maritime National Historic Park.

A final cease late one afternoon was atop Nob Hill outdoors the boarded-up Fairmont Hotel, the place a statue of singer Tony Bennett stands with arms outstretched. I considered the track he made well-known about San Francisco and longed for the day when these little cable vehicles will as soon as once more climb midway to the celebs.

Will it occur quickly? No one is aware of precisely when. But San Francisco has confirmed its resiliency many times: It survived a main earthquake and conflagration in 1906, the Spanish Flu of 1918, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the 1978 Moscone-Milk assassinations, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and the 2008 financial collapse. We are a metropolis of survivors, reinventing our “new normal” each time a problem threatens our heavenly metropolis.


Eric Risberg is a San Francisco-based photojournalist for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Eric Risberg

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