A neighborhood tour through time

How do you define a sense of place? I've lived in the same San Francisco apartment for 11 years. It's the longest I've lived anywhere, ever. I have a great deal of affection for this neighborhood, for what was once an Ohlone settlement, and then the Spanish Mission grounds, and then a succession of immigrant neighborhoods throughout the 20th century, ending today as a gentrifying bohemia on the edge of the Castro. Walking around the spaces immediately adjacent to Ramona Ave, the street I live on, I regularly look at the buildings and think about the layers life that have happened here. A single spot may have had a shell mound, a Spanish goat grazing field, the house of a ship captain who ferried people from the east coast for the Gold Rush and settled, an Irish sheet metal worker's family, a Mexican grocer, a house of junkies, a struggling painter, a Web developer and a second-year associate at a downtown law firm. That layering is fascinating to me.

Yesterday, I decided to do a little experiment on my way to the cafe where I sometimes work and back. I grabbed a bunch of images from the San Francisco Public Library's historic photo collection of places within a two-block radius of my house, printed them, and took pictures that were as close as I could manage in a couple of minutes.

14th and Guerrero, 2007/1928

14th and Dolores, 2007/1929

15th and Dolores, 2007/1956


16th and Dolores, 2007/1929


16th and Dolores, 2007/1856


I tried to match the camera angle and the lens, but it's not a meticulous recreation. Mostly, I'm interested in documenting how the place has and hasn't changed. Really, the physical space hasn't changed much at all. There are new buildings, certainly, and in one case a particularly nice one was was burned by an arsonist in 1993, but the overall space hasn't changed much, with one exception. The trees. Holy cow is there more foliage in San Francisco now than there was even 40 years ago. You go, Friends of the Urban Forest

Here's a Platial map documenting the locations:

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Also: Core77 has a report on a project in Melbourne that uses the house which was there before as the facade of the new dwelling.




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This page contains a single entry by Mike Kuniavsky published on March 14, 2007 9:57 AM.

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