July 18, 2012, 5:14 am
My usual short bike ride in San Francisco — about 25 minutes starting from my home near Dolores Park — is to head northwest via the Wiggle to Golden Gate Park, on to the Concourse between the California Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum, and loop back home. Along the way, there’s a series of monuments which I read as an index of our civic preoccupations from, say, the last quarter of the 19th century, into the first quarter of the 20th.
At the gateway to the gateway to the park, so to speak, the east end of the Panhandle, a robed bronze figure, massive but reserved in her grief, holds up a palm branch in memory of President McKinley.
Just inside the park proper, on the right, McLaren Lodge, headquarters of SF Park and Rec, remembers John McLaren, father of the park. It’s a heavy Romanesque affair in tan stone — I believe there’s a meeting room inside…
October 27, 2009, 11:44 am
Robert Arnesen’s egghead sculptures are a prominent feature of the UC Davis campus. I learned only recently that one was duplicated for an installation in San Francisco.
Reproductions of Arneson’s Yin and Yang Eggheads appear along the Embarcadero, situated together just east of the Justin Herman Plaza fountain, across from the Port of San Francisco Ferry Building. The sculpture was dedicated in mid-December. A plaque recognizes it as a reproduction of one in a series of five acrylic-on-bronze sculptures commissioned for UC Davis.
A native of Benicia, Arneson taught ceramics at UC Davis from 1962 to 1991. His Egghead sculptures were created for specific campus locations and were installed during 1991-94. The original Yin and Yang Eggheads sit outside the UC Davis fine arts complex courtyard, where they were positioned by Arneson himself shortly before his death in 1992.
September 22, 2009, 9:41 am
I once saw Joel Garreau give a talk in which he promised (promised!) that brick-and-mortar stores would soon be gone (gone!) because everybody (everybody!) would be doing all their shopping online. Big boxes, especially, were dinosaurs (dinosaurs!), he claimed. And one of the major challenges facing urbanists would be what to do with the empty shell of the discarded consumer landscape after all of the consumers had moved to Internet. Garreau told his rapt audience that this process of creative destruction would take less than a decade.*
That was eleven years ago. And Davis’s gigantic new Target, a palace to hyper-modern consumer culture, is slated to open in less than a month.
Which is a roundabout way of saying that I’ve long had doubts about the idea that online education will spell the death of brick-and-mortar colleges and universities. But this article, coupled with the…
August 22, 2009, 5:07 pm
Atrios points us to this Times article, by Jennifer Steinhauer, on the foreclosure crisis in Moreno Valley, out by Redlands in the Inland Empire. It’s inhibited by conventions of the genre, and the interviews seem only to have gone so far, but it’s suggestive — it sketches a picture of the community that took root on one street during the boom years, and the strains that were put on it by the bust.
The neighborly virtues of mutual consideration and assistance seem, in this telling, to go hand in hand with wealth, or with the exclusion of those whose wealth isn’t above a certain bar. For the established residents, moving into this neighborhood, ten years ago, was a move up, and a move away from rougher neighborhoods (El Monte, for example). And as foreclosure pushes some of them out, and the prices of the vacated houses fall to 1989 levels, they seem to fear that rough neighbors like…
August 5, 2009, 2:36 pm
Jane Jacobs’s Death and Life of American Cities remains one of my favorite books ever. I first read it when I was doing research for the final chapter — on the fight over a proposed Mississippi riverfront expressway — of my New Orleans project. At the time, I remember being frustrated that nobody had written a biography of Jacobs, a niche since filled by this book. More annoying, I thought, was Robert Caro’s decision to write Jacobs out of The Power Broker, his evisceration of Robert Moses. Now, apparently, this deals with Jacobs’s relationship with Moses. Hurrah, all is right with the world! And really, if you’ve never read Jacobs, and you like cities at all, you should rush right out to the library.
Oh, the quote is from Jacobs, who, having grown tired of Moses, moved to Toronto for some peace and quiet. There, of course, she remained an urban crusader, fighting bad…