Give me a day and a strange city, or a pair of eyes with which to see a city I "know" as strange. I'd love it if you would! Some of my most pleasant memories involve exploring a city silently, on foot. Back in '91, I got to spend such a day in Rome, with its green or orange buildings, stumbling on magnificence like Trajan's Column, that I'd not known existed.
    In fact, here's a short poem about the design of cities:

statehood statue, Cal, Market at Montgomery


In the City of God
All roads lead to God,
Each instant a crossroads
Of divine possibility.

At the Plaza of the Eternal Present,
The Avenue of Memory
Flows mystically into
The Boulevard of Things to Come.

Everywhere, Platonic Forms
Go by in search of bread
Or omnipotence.

The City is a perfect Mandala.
Its radiant pathways
Channel divine
Activity every direction.

We stopped erecting shrines
The day we recognized
The City itself is a shrine.

historic streetlight on Kearny
Wells Fargo Bank marquee figures
Wells Fargo Bank, window griffin
lordandtaylor window display. female figure smokeshop on Kearny

Below: notes for the curious and anyone interested in information and stories
(for whom the visual alone is not sufficient)

Top, left: At first I thought this was another citizen who was wildly enthusiastic about Presidents' Day. On closer inspection, however, it turned out to be a statue of a flag-waving citizen celebrating the 1850 admission of California to the USA.

Top, right: A graceful, classic streetlamp on Kearny Street, largely invisible amid the "architectural noise" of the block.

Middle, left: Stunning figure sculptures on top of the marquee of the Wells Fargo Bank. This is the glory of early 20th century architecture that is so delightful in combination with the glass-and-steel structures of later decades. The two large figures point to a shield with the inscription: "Systematic Saving Is the Key."

Middle, right: A window decoration of the same Wells Fargo building shows the care that was taken to beautify such buildings. Their classical style reminds me of the truly classic, ancient societies or Greece and Rome, in which buildings were literally treated as shrines and all space seen to be sacred.

Bottom, left: I think this display window was in Lord & Taylor's, and you can see how it is "classic" in its own way, as well as intersects joyfully with the older structures. Truly, a city is an interactive playground of past, present, and future!

Bottom, right: Now, the D & T Smoke Shop on a corner of Kearny at Bush, is Art in its own way, obviously. But I also snapped this photo for another reason. Here's the story: As I took my first pictures in San Francisco, I realized that I would need a small notebook, in which to record locations and notes like the content of the lettered shield guarded by the two figures at top left. That didn't seem like it would be a problem, for even while having that thought, my eye could see a Walgreen's sign. I walked in to the drugstore, asked the proprietor where the Stationery section was -- and proceeded to look several times on every shelf, realizing finally, this is the first drugstore I've ever been in that doesn't stock any kind of small memo pad!
     The man at the cash register seemed unfazed when I informed him, on my way out. Undaunted, I saw a 7-11 marquee around the corner, entered that establishment, and had a repeat experience! What have we come to, people?
     Desperate, I decided to try D & T, the only other place in sight that might even conceivably carry such items. The young lady at the counter smilingly produced a plastic, covered box, removed the cover, and showed me just what I needed. Just in time, as my head was starting to bulge with notes. So I reproduce the picture of the quaint little place out of gratitude. (ps: It smelled good in there, too.)



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