Final Thoughts: The Richmond District in Review

Here it is…the last post of the semester. While the reporting may continue as the year unfolds, for now it will come to an end. Sad, right?

Anyway, reporting in the Richmond District has taught me a lot this semester. I’ve learned so much about the neighborhood and reporting itself. As cheesy as this all sounds, I’ve been taken on quite a journey since that first day of class in January.

For starters, the Richmond District really surprised me. I was expecting a dreary, slow, boring neighborhood. When I realized there was a huge amount of things going on though, I was thrilled. If the many restaurants and shops within the district’s boundaries weren’t enough, the surrounding parks definitely were. Surrounded by the expansive Golden Gate Park, the breezy-yet-beautiful Ocean Beach, and the breathtaking Lincoln Park, the boundaries of this district are more than anyone could ask for in a neighborhood. Though I must admit that I spent most of my time in these parts (as I tend love nature more than the city), I loved my ventures into the neighborhood itself.

The Richmond District is mostly residential, but the little pockets of stores and restaurants really make it a gem. Though the neighborhood did prove to be somewhat slow and dreary, it was in a good way. The sleepy and quiet pace of the Richmond is one of its great qualities. I find it a great change of pace from the hectic, noisy city…and so do its residents. In the pockets of businesses, there’s an incredible amount of culture to be found. Some people may view the district as boring and “cookie-cutter”, like all of the streets are the same. However, every house seems to be a different color (some of them crazy) and in these little pockets of businesses, there are so many different and colorful cultures to be found. That is what really blew me away and changed my attitude toward the district.

On the reporting end of this adventure, I found it really difficult to get into. It was hard for me to come out of my shell and interview strangers. Some people were easy to approach, and most of the people that I did talk to were incredibly genuine and nice. This made it easier to get the hang of things in the long-run, but I do still have some nervousness at the end of this semester. I definitely found that writing is one of my stronger skills, whereas reporting is not. It was very comforting, though, to learn that so many of the Richmond District residents were so kind and open and willing to share about their neighborhood. The people, the businesses, the culture, and definitely the surrounding nature will all keep me coming back to the Richmond District. I hope all of you enjoy it as much as I did (and still do).

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Cliff House

The Cliff House is a landmark structure that was built as a restaurant in the mid 19th century.

The first Cliff House was built in 1863 by Senator John Buckley and C. C. Butler and was eventually leased to Captain Junius Foster. Wealthy San Franciscans flocked to the coast to enjoy the unique restaurant and wonderful views. The building of roads and extension of transportation allowed for more visitors as time passed, and the expansion of Golden Gate Park encouraged more visitors.

In 1883, the Cliff House was bought by Adolph Sutro, but was severely damaged by a dynamite explosion on January 16, 1887. The building was repaired, but was later completely destroyed on Christmas night 1894. In 1896, Adolph Sutro rebuilt the Cliff House as a seven story Victorian Chateau, which survived the 1906 earthquake with little damage. The bad luck continued though, when the building burned to the ground the night of September 7, 1907.

The restaurant was then rebuilt in a neo-classical style and eventually purchased by George and Leo Whitney in 1937 and extensively remodelled it into an American roadhouse. In the 1960s, the Musèe Mèchanique was moved into the basement of the Cliff House. The building was then acquired by the National Park Service in 1977 and became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Extensive restoration to the site was completed in 2004.

The Cliff House now features two restaurants, the casual Bistro Restaurant and the formal Sutro’s. There is also a Sunday Brunch buffet in the Terrace Room. There is a gift shop in the building and the Camera Obscura on the terrace deck.

The Cliff House is  located at 1090 Point Lobos Ave. For directions and other information, go to http://www.nps.gov/goga/clho.htm or call (415) 561-4323. For restaurant and visiting information, go to http://www.cliffhouse.com/ or call 415-386-3330.

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Sutro Baths

The Sutro Baths were built in the late 19th century, and at the time, were known to be the largest indoor swimming pool complex in the world. On March 14, 1896, the pools were opened to the public by Adolph Sutro (a wealthy entrepreneur and former San Francisco mayor).  The structure was made of glass, iron, wood, and reinforced concrete structure and was mostly hidden in a small beach inlet below The Cliff House.

The Sutro Baths were comprised of seven different swimming pools—one fresh water and six salt water pools in ranging temperatures. During high tides, water flowed into the pools from the Pacific Ocean, recycling 2 million US gallons of water; during low tides, a powerful turbine water pump could recycling the water in five hours.

There was also a museum that displayed Sutro’s personal collection of artifacts from his travels, a concert hall, seating for 8,000, and, once, an ice skating rink.

Due to high operating and maintenance costs, the Sutro Baths closed in 1966. Shortly after the closure, the structure was burned down during the demolition process. Concrete walls, blocked off stairs and passageways, and a tunnel with a deep crevice in the middle are all that remain of the structure. The remains are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and operated by the United States Nation Park Service.

The ruins of the  Sutro Baths are still open to the public, and there are signs that describe the history of Sutro Baths starting from its construction to the complete destruction by fire in 1966.

The Sutro Baths are located at Point Lobos Ave & Merrie Way. For directions and other information, go to http://www.nps.gov/goga/clho.htm or call (415) 561-4323.

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Outside Lands Music Festival

The much-anticipated lineup for Outside Lands 2012 was announced today. With headliners such as Metallica, Stevie Wonder, and Neil Young, the event will be one to remember. Started in 2008, Outside Lands is now in it’s fifth year running. Though mainly known for a variety of musical acts across multiple stages, the festival also boasts many food, wine, and art attractions. The festival spreads throughout a large chunk of Golden Gate Park, as mapped out below:

In its first year (2008), the festival brought in in 40–60,000 attendees a day, making it a rather huge success. Many neighboring residents complained about the crowd-control, however, as there were very little regulations. Since then, the festival has improved greatly and has continued to bring in more attendees each year.

The festival is also geared towards the green movement and includes numerous initiatives to make the festival eco-friendly, like inviting participants to use a ride-sharing program. Many booths at the festival showcase their green initiatives, as well. There are many vegetarian and vegan dining options, many art collections made entirely of recycled materials, solar power stages, a refillable water program, a recycling program, and bike valet parking. There has also been booths with workshops to educate attendees about organic food and farming.

Outside Lands 2012 will be held in Golden Gate Park August 10-12 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Ticket prices are on a “first come, first serve” basis and range from $195 to $225. For more information, including VIP ticket packages, go to http://www.sfoutsidelands.com/.

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Pizza Orgasmica

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Located on Clement Street, between 9th and 10th Streets, Pizza Orgasmica is a great culinary establishment. The place was started by two men from Brazil, who moved to San Francisco in search of owning their own pizza place. Now owned by Taylor Maia and his wife, Gina Gochez, the restaurant offers multiple pizza creations, various appetizers, and even their own beers.

The place also doubles as a brewery, offering a wide variety of beers, from interesting Raspberry Hefeweizen and Blueberry Best Bitter to basic IPA and Amber Ale. The pizza options also range from interesting to basic, but all have hysterical names. There’s Doggie Style, a pizza with salami, pepperoni, sausage and ground beef…and then there’s concoctions like Erotica, which includes corn, cilantro, pesto, rosemary potatoes, roasted garlic, and cherry tomatoes.

The Clement St. location offers lunch specials that include a personal two topping pizza, a small lunch salad, and a soda ($7.50) or beer on tap ($8.50). There are also nightly specials every night (except Sundays) from 5 – 10 p.m. with great deals:

Monday – College Night (All Orgasmica beers are $3.00/pint)

Tuesday – Eat Almost Free Night (50% off any large or x-large pizza)

Wednesday – Latin Beat Night (Margaritas are $2.50/each)

Thursday – Public Service Night (Free Pizza Orgasmica Bites during happy hour, all Orgasmica beers are $3.00/each)

Friday – Reggae Night (All Orgasmica beers are $3.00/pint)

Saturday – 80’s Night (Long Island Iced Teas are $3.50/each)

Pizza Orgasmica currently has five locations. For more information, go to http://www.pizzaorgasmica.com/.

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Sex Offenders living near Public Schools in the Richmond District

This is an interactive map that I’ve put together that may interest you all! I’ve mapped out all public schools in the district (elementary, middle, and high schools) with the yellow pins. If you click on the pins, you can find miscellaneous data about each school. I’ve also mapped out all sexual offenders in the neighborhood with the red signs. If you click on the signs, you can find data about each sex offender. (Pictures of sex offenders are being worked on…for some reason they’re not working! Sorry! Working as hard as I can to get it fixed soon…)

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Green Apple Books

Voted the best used and independent bookstore in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the SF Weekly, and many other papers, magazines, websites, Green Apple Books has made quite a name for itself since its opening.

Richard Savoy opened Green Apple Books in 1967 at 25 years old after touring in the Army and working as a radio technician for United Airlines. With little business experience, a small savings, and a credit loan, Savoy was able to lease a building near Clement and Sixth Streets.

The original shop was 750 square feet and consisted of Savoy’s old comics, books, and magazines. Green Apple Books is now 10 times the original size and carries and inventory of new and used books, comics, and magazines from all over. After acquiring Revolver Records, Green Apple Books added new and used music and movies to the store.

The store has adapted to the ever-changing consumer market over time, expanding its selection in order to please all audiences.

Green Apple Books still has much of the old interior, adding to the personality of the shop. According to the website, “the gas light fixtures are still visible on the second floor. The stairs still creak and the dust fights back against weekly cleanings.” The exterior on the other hand, was recently updated in 2001.

Along with the update of the exterior, there was also an update of owners in 2009. Three long-time employees, Kevin Hunsanger, Kevin Ryan, and Pete Mulvihill, eventually bought the business from Savoy.

Though the owners and exterior has changed, the quality of selection, personality, and customer service has yet to change at Green Apple Books.

Green Apple Books is located at 506 Clement Street and is open Sunday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. For more information, go to http://www.greenapplebooks.com/ or call (415) 387-2272.

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Explosions in the Sky Set to Play at Palace of Fine Arts

Texan instrumental band Explosions in the Sky is coming to San Francisco for another time and is set to play in the Richmond District! The band will play two shows at the Palace of Fine Arts on April 16th and 17th. The events are so anticipated that both shows are already sold out.

The Palace of Fine Arts was built in 1915 and is currently home to the Exploratorium museum.

For more information on Explosions in the Sky and future tours, go to http://www.explosionsinthesky.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/ExplosionsInTheSkyMusic

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Academy of Sciences

An aquarium, a planetarium, a nature museum, and a rainforest all in one? Count me in. As a biology minor, I am particularly fond of the Academy of Sciences.

Located in the beautiful Golden Gate Park, the center is a gathering place for all kinds of people. A major tourist attraction and a place for locals to learn, the Academy of Sciences is eventful for all ages.

The collection of live animals extends from fish and jellyfish, amphibians and reptiles, even insects and penguins. The most popular attraction is Claude, a rare albino alligator.

The Academy of Sciences features a new planetarium show every few months and a rainforest dome complete with wild butterflies and a temperature and humidity controlled climate. It also has a “living roof” covered in various plants, that powers the center with solar panels.

Many events are held at the center, including lectures, special children’s “labs”, daily feedings of the penguins and coral reef fish, and even NightLife events for those 21 and up.

There’s an option to pay per visit, or join as a member. Members of the center get discounts on events, access to special events, access to lectures, unlimited admission, and discounts on shopping. There are also select free days (for everyone) on select Sundays and Wednesdays. Neighborhood free days (for residents of San Francisco) also take place on specific weekends during spring and fall.

The Academy of Sciences is located at 55 Music Concourse Drive, and is open Monday – Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, go to http://www.calacademy.org/ or call (415) 379-8000.

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Land’s End

Imagine being able to walk along the edge of a city, state, country and continent all at once. Crazy enough, this is possible at the Land’s End Trail in the north corner of the Richmond District.

Originally forged as a part of the Cliff House Railway by Gustav Sutro in 1888, the trail is now enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The corridor was originally intended to bring residents from downtown to the Cliff House and Sutro Baths in the “Outside Lands” of the city. For only five cents, a passenger could travel via open-air carriage to the area.

Along the trail, visitors walk past the Legion of Honor, a memorial to the USS San Francisco, shipwrecks and the site of an old lighthouse, Fort Miley, and of course the Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. (I’ll elaborate on the history of a couple of these in later posts, but for now, I’ll focus on the trail.)

The trail spans 11 miles, but is not contiguous. There are multiple stretches of the trail, making it easy to hike 3 or 4 miles roundtrip with incredible views every step of the way.

San Francisco is unique in the fact that it is a city that is spotted with nature, and Land’s End is no exception. It’s easy to forget, if only for a moment, that you are in a major city while hiking this trail.

A new visitor center, the Lookout, is set to open this spring.

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