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A New Yorker Visits San Francisco, Part 15

Ellen Levitt

Posted on January 5, 2019 21:59

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Observations about San Francisco, after my 15th (?) visit to this city

My family and I visited San Francisco during the last week of December. I'm not sure if this was my 14th, 15th or 16th visit, so I will tag it as my 15th time there. Members of my extended family have resided here since the late 1960s, and my first visit to SF was in 1973, for a cousin's bar mitzvah ceremony and party.

Each time I've visited San Francisco, I see something different, something new. I do treasure revisiting favorite places and eating in cherished restaurants, but I enjoy experiencing new things, overlooked places, and such. And I realize that while certain things remain the same, others change. That's urban life.

I still thrill to riding on cable cars, driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, gazing at the Castro Theater sign, and travelling the ever-crooked section of Lombard Street. But this time we also checked out a new playground with a climbing dome and slide that my jaded teenagers enjoyed; we walked into City Hall and watched newly married couples snapping photos by a Christmas tree; we walked around abandoned Army bunkers in the Marin Headlands (my cousin's son directed us during the drive there). We dined at a new Italian restaurant that featured wonderful beet pasta with goat cheese. I found a former synagogue in the Mission District, which has become a private residence. 

When you visit a particular locale more than once, you engage with it in different ways. I have engaged and interacted with SF as a child, as a college student, as a single adult, as a parent of toddlers, as a parent of teens. My priorities have evolved to some extent, and I appreciate different sites and attractions in various ways.

But I have also seen unfortunate or regrettable changes as time has passed. I noticed this time that the Lucky Penny restaurant on Geary Boulevard had closed. I recall eating there once or twice years earlier, and liked the kitschy sign with its shiny penny. As I strolled on Haight Street I thought of shops I liked years ago, such as the hologram studio and Daljeets (a clothes shop) that are gone. The art gallery that once stood across the street from City Hall, on Grove Street, is gone. And this time I noticed more homeless people than previously. (On our final evening in SF, I gave our leftover and uneaten breakfast food and snacks to a homeless guy near Union Square.)

I know frankly that San Francisco will change and not be exactly the way I recall it when I was 9, or 19, or 39. A city is an ever-evolving entity. And the same thing happens to my hometown of New York City. Favorite restaurants and stores close. My childhood house is gone. My three favorite bowling alleys from when I was a teen all closed. The reasons for these comings and goings are multiple and often complex. 

Cities are not embalmed in amber. They change.

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on January 5, 2019 21:59

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Source: Daily Mail

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