Book lending on the edge of Nowhere.
Vol. 1 The Freeman Landfill Library. Albany Bulb. Albany, CA
The Albany Bulb should not exist.
Much like the entire bay, it’s a man-made intervention into natural space, a construct of fill and development brokered by non-native peoples and plants and materials. When it comes to nature, “there is no there, there” and hasn’t been for some time. But it feels close, in a very visceral and real way. The greenery stretched taut over concrete and metal bones, it serves as a passable substitute for authentic wilderness. A stand-in for the world That Was – before tech rushes, rail rushes, and gold rushes changed the physical foundation of the region forever. Continue reading
Last month I was fortunate enough take a special tour of Grace Cathedral’s catwalks. I’m absolutely terrified of heights but as this tour isn’t normally offered to the public I had to accept. WOW… Designed in 1928 and completed in 1964, the cathedral was built in the French Gothic style which means it’s all about grandiose heights and soaring columns and cloud-brushing spires. I managed to complete the tour with no fewer than two minor panic attacks which is actually impressive, all things considered. Despite shooting with a broken flash and a finicky light meter I managed to capture a few highlights from the tour.
I noticed this last week – an incongruous bit of brickwork from a construction site on Hyde Street. I meant to come back and take a photo but never did; until I saw this article on SF Gate. Turns out this minor street-side landscaping project exposed hundred year-old brickwork from San Francisco’s pre-earthquake City Hall. Huge, elaborate, expensive, and fatally flawed – the building took close to twenty five years to build and would collapse in mere seconds. By 1909 the ruins were gone, by 1915 the current City Hall had been constructed two blocks away, and by 1933 the Federal Building was constructed atop the old location.
Makes me wonder what other secrets are hidden beneath the pavement…
PPPSSSTTT. Let me tell you a secret – Go to Port Costa, NOW. An old wheat shipping port well past it’s glory days; this tiny bayshore town is picturesque, eccentric, and situated in a geographic pocket of idyllic timelessness. In other words, it’s well worth the treacherous, winding drive from Crockett. Built into the cleft of a small canyon, the town ends at the shoreline parking lot for the infamous Warehouse Cafe. Per the New York Times, “The Warehouse Cafe was built in 1886 for the storage of wheat, hay and potatoes. Three stories tall and made of concrete with huge redwood beams, it has survived four fires, three earthquakes and countless wild parties.” Words simply cannot do it justice. Go there, drink beer from a mason jar, stare at the polar bear, and befriend old bikers. Just do it.
After exploring the area last weekend, I fell in love with the old theater marque sitting in the parking lot. Broken in two, it says State Theater and is decorated with poppies.
But Port Costa, even at it’s height, was never large enough to support a theater. So what is the provenance of this sign? And why is it sitting in the middle of nowhere, silently rotting away along the bayshore? Frankly, if this were a more generic, non-theater sign the question would be pointless – an internet rabbit hole leading nowhere. However, theater buffs are a meticulous and internet savvy breed making the sign’s origin easier to unravel.
Last weekend I traveled to Vancouver Island for a wedding. While there, Flickr user Espressobuzz and I stopped to photograph St. Ann’s Church outside the town of Duncan, BC. Founded by Father Pierre Rondeault in 1890, the current building dates to 1903 and is home to an active Roman Catholic congregation of mainly native Cowichans.
I don’t think I’ve seen a more touching cemetery before – the level of affection and love was quite evident in the sentimental tokens and floral arrangements covering each grave. It was gorgeous and sweet and very photogenic. I usually dislike photographing recent graves – it feels disrespectful and like I’m gawking at someone’s loss – but I made an exception for some of these.
Finally someone left the gate unlocked! As seen in this blog post, there’s a very intriguing Owl Cigar sign overlooking this alley. Wrapping around two sides of 921 Post Street, I’ve had trouble pinpointing where this sign was originally meant to be viewed from. The back side of the sign isn’t visible from Post, isn’t visible from Geary, and is only vaguely visible from Hyde. So where was it meant to be viewed from?
Peekabo, I sorta see you. As shot from Hyde
A couple weeks ago I was in Guerneville, California for a wedding. While there, Flickr user EspressoBuzz and I explored the local abandoned amusement park.
Birds - not a dirty lens
Abandoned buildings make for very attractive nuisances. This one resides on Pier 90 along Islais Creek in the Southern Waterfront. Closed in the 70′s due to issues with seismically unsound fill, a rotting pier, and changes in shipping technology that favored the Port of Oakland – it stands as a gorgeous reminder of midcentury American industry. Continue reading