Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Friday, June 28, 2013

Walking The Streets of San Francisco With Emperor Norton

We were going to leave Lotus on Tuesday, but it began to rain and we decided to stay another day.  Wednesday, we drove approximately 180 miles to the Thousand Trails in Morgan Hill and will be staying put until after the 4th of July.

Luckily we were able to get a 50 amp site.  Another high pressure cell is coming in pushing the temperatures near 100 this weekend.

Today we headed to San Francisco which is 70 miles from us and has much cooler temperatures.  Today's high was 72.

We had reservations today at 11:00 to take Emperor Norton's Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine Tour .  It was a walking history tour of San Francisco's Union Square and Financial District.

We arrived at Union Square an hour early giving us plenty of time to park and check out things around it.

The park is one square block and acquired its name when pro Union rallies were held in the square during the Civil War.  Today it is the center of shopping and theaters in the city.

We were told to meet by the statue and that's where we went.

There was Emperor Norton ready to take 16 of us back into history.

Emperor Norton originally came to San Francisco after inheriting $40,000 from his father.  He was able to invest and turned the original amount into $250,000.  He then tried to corner the rice market and lost all of his money.

He left San Francisco for awhile.  When he came back, he proclaimed himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico issuing edicts and proclamations.  The people of San Francisco humored him as he held court among the people.  You can read more about him here if you would like.

First on the tour was the St. Francis Hotel, built in 1904.  It survived the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and suffered little serious damage from the resulting fire.  Reconstruction began immediately and it reopened in 1907.

This Magneta Grandfather Clock was the first master clock, controlling all the other clocks in the note, brought to the west and has served as a meeting place for San Franciscans since it was installed in the Powell Street Lobby in 1907.  If you live in San Francisco and say meet me at the clock, everyone knows this is the clock to meet at.

Before the Neiman Marcus store, the City of Paris Department Store was there.  In the 1970's, there was quite a bit of controversy as Neiman Marcus acquired the property, tore down the City of Paris and built the new building. They did keep the stained glass rotunda that had been in the City of Paris.  You can see it at the top of the glass in the center.

We continued to the Xanadu Gallery designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  The red tile is his signature mark.

This is Lotta's Fountain given to San Francisco in 1875.  Lotta Crabtree was popular entertainer who began as a young child traveling with her mother to miners' camps to sing and dance for them.

The Palace Hotel also survived the earthquake in 1906.  Enrico Caruso, the opera singer, was staying here and thought the trauma had caused him to lose his voice. His manager persuaded him to try to sing.  Caruso opened the windows and sang down to the streets of San Francisco.  He then left the city vowing he would never be back.  He never returned.

This was an office building with these painted murals in the entrance. Each person in the mural was someone important in San Francisco.

Next, we headed to the Transamerica Building, the tallest building in San Francisco.  Another interesting fact we learned is that San Francisco has POPOS (privately-owned public open spaces), most of them downtown. Pictures below is the POPOS of the Transamerica Building.

One of my favorite stops was this Artist & Craftsman Store which was originally a dance theater on the Barbary Coast.  It was amazing the amount of supplies they had on two levels.  It was a real treat to go inside and walk into an original tunnel that had been used to smuggle goods in and out of the city.  Apparently there was an entire network of tunnels connecting stores on the Barbary Coast to enable smuggling.

Our last stop was China Town with its unique architecture and street signs that are in both English and Chinese.

We walked back to our starting point passing a trolley car on the hills.

We ended our day back at our original destination.  We enjoyed hearing stories of San Francisco's past giving the structures in the city meaning.  It's such a great way to visit a city.

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