SAN FRANCISCO FROM A TO Z
SAN FRANCISCO FROM A TO Z, Çağakan Vişne | 26.07.2016
Located in the northern part of California, on the west side of the USA, San Francisco is the state’s fourth largest city. This peaceful city of “Frisco” promises visitors unique scenes, unforgettable memories and a “California Dream” that they can find in few other places, with its emblematic Golden Gate Bridge, nostalgic trams, parallel roads and streets, adjoining colorful and duplex houses, 49-Mile Scenic Drive, and Haight-Ashbury district with its Twin Peaks and boho population.
This article offers an A-Z guide to San Francisco, the places you can visit, the famous names and all you need to know.
A - Alcatraz: Probably the most famous prison in the USA. Located on an island in the middle of the ocean, and 2.5 km from the city center, this imposing penitentiary where “Scarface” Al Capone served time is now a museum. There are daily tours to the museum via the ferries leaving from Pier 39. This tour includes an audio guide with memories and stories from the convicts and officials that once lived and worked there, and a visit to the cells themselves.
B - Berkeley: Almost half an hour away from San Francisco is the University of California (UC), Berkeley with its famous Telegraph Street.
C - Chris Isaak: American singer famous for songs including “Baby Did a Bad Thing”, “Forever Blue”, “Wicked Game” and also a great album called “San Francisco Days”.
D - David Johnson: The funny guy generally known as the “World Famous Bushman”. The “Bushman”, who has lived in Fisherman's Wharf since 1980, has taken it upon himself to “entertain” unsuspecting tourists by hiding behind eucalyptus tree branches that he has cut down and scaring them.
E - San Francisco Examiner: The newspaper originating in San Francisco that has been in publication since the late 19th century.
F - Fisherman's Wharf: One of the most popular places in the city for tourists. You can buy octopus, fish, clam chowder served in a bread bowl, lobster, shrimp or crab from the rows of shops and then share the benches opposite with the friendly seagulls whilst sipping a local beer and enjoying the sea air on your face.
G - Golden Gate Bridge: Leaving San Francisco aside, this is one of the most famous bridges in the US, and even in the world. Started in 1933 and claiming the lives of 11 of its construction workers, it was finally commissioned in 1937. This gorgeous red-tinged orange bridge provides a background for many outstanding scenes that can be experienced from various parts of the city. You can cycle across the suspension bridge to Vista Point on the northern edge and savor the beautiful landscape where you can take in the bridge, Alcatraz and the silhouette of the city, visit the sculpture “Lone Sailor” and take/have a souvenir photo taken, or stay on the other side of the bridge and have a picnic in the Golden Gate Park, which is larger even than Central Park, visit the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden and simply check out what’s on offer
H - Hyde Street: This is your destination after passing through the uneven streets of San Francisco on the nostalgic tram from Powell Street. First buy your ticket, then you may need to queue for a while whilst taking in the safety guidelines posted alongside the stop. Your journey is undertaken to the amusing commentary of the tram drivers. As the tram is old it may sometimes break down and you may be asked to get off and push! Just for information!
I - I Left My Heart in San Francisco: The great song by “silky voice” jazz singer Tony Bennett, which has almost become the national anthem of the city.
J - Jefferson Airplane: The progressive rock band from San Francisco that you need to listen to, even if only for their song “White Rabbit”.
K - California: A state on the western side of the USA. San Francisco is located in California, the most crowded state in the US.
L - Lombard Street: The street full of trees and flowers on both sides that sweeps like a snake and connects to Hyde Street. This famous street that also reveals a fabulous view of San Francisco has become a must-see place for tourists.
M - Musee Mecanique: One of the most amazing and entertaining places you can find in San Francisco. This museum with its carnival atmosphere is home to hundreds of coin-operated consoles, Atari systems, jukeboxes, photo booths, pinball machines, and puppets. Go to this outstanding museum in Fisherman's Wharf with your pocket full of coins and get your fill of nostalgia!
N - Naomi Wolf: A popular American author (see: the “Read” tab).
O - Ocean Beach: The beach on the western coast of San Francisco, where the famous “Cliff House” restaurant is also located. Even though the fog comes down frequently in spring and summer and the climate is cold, this is a popular haunt for surfers on account of the fabulous waves.
P - Pier 39: Another place highly popular with tourists. The ferries to Alcatraz leave from near here, and you will also find the San Francisco arm of the Hard Rock Café with a view of the prison. There are many restaurants, hot dog bars, souvenir shops, cafés and ice cream shops at Pier 39, and you also get a chance to watch the cute sea lions on the barges and enjoy the performances of the street musicians.
Q - Quicksilver: The action/thriller movie shot in San Francisco in 1986, in which Kevin Bacon played the leading role.
R - Rebecca Solnit: The author of the successful book “Infinite City” (see: the “Read” tab).
S - Sausalito: The peaceful, quiet town north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The burger shop “Hamburger” (yes, imaginative isn’t it!) in this pretty town with its huge marina, its houses winding up the hill, narrow and uneven streets, and deer suddenly appearing in front of you in the night, is a small and narrow eaterie that sells fantastic hamburgers and always has a queue! The prices are very affordable too. This is one not to be missed!
T - Tramway: The nostalgic tramway is one of the most iconic features of the city so get on board and visit Hyde & Beach or California & Drumm.
U - U.S.S. Pampanito: Submarine near Fisherman's Wharf. This ship used by the US Navy during the Second World War is now a museum.
V - Vesuvio Cafe: The famous café in North Beach. This colorful venue opened in 1948 and has always been a favorite with celebrities including Neal Cassady, Francis Ford Coppola, the director of “The Godfather” series, Bob Dylan, and author Jack Kerouac among others. Stop by and take a drink. You’ll love it I’m sure.
W - Wave Organ: A fascinating and unmissable attraction in San Francisco Bay. The Wave Organ, which I’ll refer to as an “acoustic sculpture” resembles a huge sea shell according to visitors and is made up of 25 pipes from which you can hear different and amazing sounds made by the swish swash of the waves and the wind.
X - X3 - The Last Stand: The third movie in the “X-Men” series by Brett Ratner. The scene where the mutant Erik “Magneto” Lensherr (Ian McKellen) rips the Golden Gate Bridge free using his special powers and transports it to Alcatraz is well worth seeing.
Y - Yerba Buena Gardens: The big place in the city center which is perfect for just having fun. The Children's Garden with its bowling alley to the south, an ice rink, a 100-year-old carousel, an amphitheater, the Children's Creativity Museum, St. Patrick’s Church in the northern part, the central park and the Center for the Arts are just some of the places you can visit.
The marvelous movie by the skilled director David Fincher (see: the “Watch” tab).
Before going to San Francisco:
Listen: “Fake Tales of San Francisco”, the third song of the album “Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not” released in 2006 by the British rock band Arctic Monkeys, is 3 minutes long and bursting with energy. Listen to it once and you’ll be humming it all day long!
Watch: I recommend something other than “Full House”, which was the favorite sit-com in the 90s: “Zodiac”, David Fincher’s detective/thriller movie released in 200,7 was adapted from a true story. The movie tells the amazing tale of a young journalist pursuing a killer who was never arrested by the police in San Francisco in the 1970s. This is the most accomplished piece of Fincher’s great filmography.
Read: A book by famous San Francisco author Naomi Wolf, for example, “Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries”. For a great story based in San Francisco, make room on your shelf for the jaw-dropping and highly successful “All Over Coffee” by Paul Madonna, and “Infinite City” by Rebecca Solnit.