It’s taken me a while to get around to typing up these notes, but the memory of Joel’s talk is still strong (plus I have notes :)! He was with us November 15th, Joel led us around San Francisco with all sorts of delightful tidbits of San Francisco as it is and was: from a living wall on Drew high school, the Bradbury waterworks, lakes on maps from Golden Gate Park in 1872 where there are no lakes, the Magnolia tree that blooms in february which makes for an excellent way to press words from plaques, the pepper and cork trees in Dolores park, the trees on the Park Presidio divide that offer species that grow well in San Francisco, and the Tenderloin National Forest at Coen alley.
There was also his tour of SF water: from the reservoir that used to be where the Safeway is at Market below the Mint (which produces memorial coins and coins on contract) where there was once a hill and the bottom of the reservoir was 30′ higher and the water surface 100′ higher, Laguna Honda which was once a lake then made into a reservoir, aqueducts that carried SF water too and fro, the water that used to be brought over from Sausalito and sold by the bucket, the Pilarcitos gravity-fed flume that broke in the 1906 earthquake which was never rebuilt because of Hetch Hetchy water, the water tank that used to be on Tank Hill where you can still see the rivet marks in the concrete, a bridge in GGP park that didn’t cross water but kept the people up and away from the horses and carriages that used to promenade in the area, Mission Creek which isn’t the original mission creek but defined and shaped by fill, and the 4th street bridge that crosses it with its huge fake counterweight.
And then there were the hills and sands: the black sand of ocean beach that isn’t pollution, but is magnetic sand, magnetite from weathered granite, the sands that used to spread across the city, 60′-80′ dunes downtown and through the Mission where you’ll still find sandy soil, one of the reasons it flopped as an agricultural area, the twin peaks that aren’t twins, on being chert the other basalt, one slowly crumbling away, Red Rock Island a part of 3 islands, privately owned and once a source of red rock for tinting paint, and for ship ballast, the Senole water temple, the old aqueduct known as the haunted sidewalk of Niles Canyon, the quarry in San Pablo Straight that goes down below the bay, and the springs that are still found in the city, but are sadly not tracked (and are required to be diverted into the sewer system).
In other words, some of the many wonders and oddities that San Francisco and region provide to us, if we are willing to take the time to seek it out.
If you want to hear more from Joel, check out his Thinkwalk tours.