San Francisco Tour Guide Guild – 2006 Programs

A Walk along the Old North Waterfront

March 9, 2006
On Thursday, March 9 Ulla Kaprielian led about 12 of us for a tour along the north waterfront. We were fortunate to have a sunny day in the middle of a stormy week. We started at Pier 39 where, we learned that Mayor Feinstein said she would show up to cut the ribbon in a bathing suit if it was completed on time in Oct. 1978. It was and she did! We toured the landscaped gardens at 50 Francisco/1700 Montgomery Streets which are owned by the Port of San Francisco. Andy Hartman helped identify the trees and shrubs.
We learned about the Globe Mills buildings on Montgomery and Chestnut Streets. One Lombard was built as a cold storage company and that 117 Greenwich was built by the Old Italian Swiss Colony wine, at one time the largest wine producer in the US. We than had the chance to admire the beauty of Levi Strauss plaza and buildings.
Ulla explained the history of many of the brick buildings on Battery, Green and Union Streets. Most of them built by men who started their companies at the time of the Gold Rush or shortly afterwards. Some of those companies included Armour Meats, National Ice & Storage, and American Biscuit Company.
Our 2 hour fun and fact filled tour ended at Sydney Walton Square where we learned about the modern sculptures in what was once the wholesale produce market.
Submitted by Richard Miller

2-Museum Tour

April 19, 2006
The TRITON MUSEUM OF ART, 1505 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara. is a private, non-profit foundation—not a City museum but a suburban one. Preston Metcalf, the assistant curator, was our guide through this beautiful, airy, light-filled 28 year old facility on seven acres. It is a community museum—free—located in a suburban area. It is not a “destination” venue.
The magnificent light-filled rotunda looks out to a grove of redwood trees and sculptures, is often used for parties, corporate events and weddings. They host a Blues Festival in the summer. This is one way the Museum becomes known in the community. (They are open to having DMC events.) The Triton’s mission is to showcase the art of California—primarily contemporary work—as well as a Native American collection. We enjoyed the exhibit “New Works by California Artists”. Stan Welsh’s work focused on the masks that we wear to conceal our real identity.
Korean artist, Yoan Lee Paik, presented large cloth panels with Buddhist and Christian themes emanating through celestial themes. The work was inspired by her experience caring for her dying mother. She wants to show the dark and light sides of life. She regretted that she had not been able to make her mother’s sick room a place of beauty as she made her passage from life into death.
Carlos Villa, a Filipino artists, teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute and USF on Filipino heritage. To convey his vision of his culture, he created feathered coats with which he does performance pieces. He becomes the Shaman, performing sacred ceremonies, in an anti-ceremonial culture.
Villa’s other work is Minimalist: Meditations on what it means to be human expressed in wood panels. There were varying reactions in the group to this work!
Finally, we left the gallery and walked through the park to an exquisite Italianate Revival House, built in 1866 by Jamison Brown. Jack London wrote “Call of the Wild” on the veranda of the house once located near Santa Clara’s Carmelite Monastery. Both houses (now seamlessly melded into one) were moved to this site and reconstructed to form one building. We marveled at the creative use of many different woods used in the construction of one room. Small closets tucked away in the eaves, lovely decorative motifs—this jewel in prime condition, is used for small events and weddings. (Our guide had recently been married here.)
On our way to lunch, we saw a pink Victorian house on Market. We were told this was the “Merry Widow’s House” or “La Veuve Joyeuse”—used to be a brothel.
1342 Naglee Avenue, San Jose
Founded in the early 1900’s and born of teachings from ancient Egypt. H. Spencer Lewis, while traveling in Europe, was swept up in this thinking.
On an expedition to Egypt, he found a few artifacts and founded this museum (1928) which is now owned by the Rosicrucian Order—Dr. Lewis was its first Imperator. They study history, science, mysticism and the laws of nature in order to find harmony with them. The Order has 200,000 members all over the world and it is they who support the museum.
The Order is a secret society from “mystery schools” of ancient Egypt. There is some similarity to the Masons. The current Imperator lives in France.
Our guide took us rapidly through the ancient Egyptian artifacts, telling us of the ancient history and culture.
Some tidbits: The cat represents the Goddess Bastet and is the protector of the home. Sekhmet is the goddess of doctors and surgeons. The Ankh is the symbol of life.
Statues of the gods were a medium through which the priests could reach the people. Donations of food to the gods were taken by the priests at night—some donations—food, clothing, jewelry– went into the marketplace and thus helped the economy.
There is currently a move afoot to return looted artifacts to those countries from which they were stolen. This museum has some royal mummies which are in contention; everything here belongs to the Egyptian government.
Akhnaton (married to Nephrititi—changed the religion to monotheism. This change damaged the economy and thus created unrest in the culture. His wife, Nephrititi, disappeared and Egypt suffered a bubonic plague. It was believed that the gods had returned to punish them. Much of what Akhnaton accomplished was destroyed. It isn’t known what happened to him.
There was an interim Pharaoh. Then King Tut, Akhnaton’s son with another wife, assumed the throne. The economy improved and polytheism was reinstated.
Royalty was carried through the woman’s’ line but she had to be married and the power was exercised through her husband.
King Tut married his sister; their son was Ramses.
After Cleopatra VII’s death, Egypt became the Romans’ breadbasket. Egyptian language was lost because only Greek and Latin languages were permitted. The Rosetta Stone is so very important because it preserved that lost language.
The Egyptians didn’t like to think or talk about how people died. While the average life span was quite low because of a high infant mortality, there were many people who lived to 75 years. The average height was 4’6” to 5’4” tall.
If you haven’t visited this museum, you will want to. It peels away some of the mystery surrounding the Rosicrucians and explains the complex Egyptian history that we have heard much of in recent years. It is yet another piece of the rich resources enjoyed by residents of the Bay Area.
Warm and effusive thanks to Joan Wollenberger for arranging this compelling outing for attendees Sonia Grimaldi, Terry Hope, Mary Johnson, and Bea Mitchell.

The Treasures of Treasure Island

May 24, 2006
On Wednesday May 24th a large number of Guild members met at the Marriot for an informative and enjoyable trip to Treasure Island led by Craig Smith.
In the bus on the way to Treasure Island. we were shown a 15 minute documentary about the 1939 World Fair. This bought back fond memories for a number of our folk as they or family members had attended the fair.
The first stop was the old Pan Am Clipper Building. Although rather deserted now, as only one area on the second floor is used by the mayor and a small staff, one could visualize streams of very excited people checking in to take the China Clipper flight. This flight hopped over the Pacific to Asia in 60 hours, at the princely sum of $2,500 in luxurious conditions, which included full beds. By boat it took 21 days. After the Fair this building housed an excellent exhibition of the Fair’s sculptures and memorabilia. These are now in storage waiting for the time when the SFO museum, who are now in charge of these artifacts, can raise the money to open a museum here. In the foyer of the present building a huge mural graces the wall painted by Nesbitt for the Navy in 1975.
A little history on Treasure Island. Once a shoal to the north of Yerba Buena Island this site was chosen to house the 1939 Worlds Fair, as a tribute to the building of the two bridges. Where to get the money? Washington- $7 million was assigned to the project. An airport would be built in return for the funds. 18months later an island had been born. Pan Am had a passenger terminal and hangers built. The sea planes landed in the Bay then taxied around to the “Bay of Trade Winds”, the stretch of water between Yerba Buena and Treasure Island east of the causeway. It soon become apparent however that the Treasure Island. situation as an airport was totally inadequate. The airport then moved down to San Mateo County. How did it get it’s name?. At the time of the building of the island, Hollywood was filming “Treasure Island”. Hollywood was a big craze. Another possibility is that the sediment used to build the island was bought down from the dredging of the Sacramento River. The alluvial gold in this sediment glittered in the sun, and looked like treasure.
After visiting the terminal, the bus was parked in front of one of the hangers, which still displays the statue of the Goddess of Aviation. Here we watched a 50 minute documentary on Treasure Island in the cool air conditioned bus. The hangers are now used for movie making. From there the bus toured the island. Craig pointed out the main sites of the World’s Fair. The theme of the Fair was the “Gateway To The Pacific”. The buildings, gardens and sculptures had an Asian theme. 1M sq. feet of exhibition space was available. 36 nations and 31 states were represented. One of the most striking sights must have been the 400′ “Tower of Sun” carillon tower. The bells were moved to Grace Cathedral after the Fair.
Lunch was at the Culinary Job Corps center. This is a two year program which has 850 students, at various stages of training, living on the island.. The food was excellent, although the service was rather slow, but after all they are still learning. Other occupants of the island are the Firefighters training ground, the CHP motor bike training center, Delancy St.. The latter has a project for 85 children at risk who are bused in every day. Housing is available for about 2,000 people. It is allocated, 1/3 for teachers, 1/3 public employees, 1/3 homeless and low income.
In the second year of the Fair, 1940, European artist and art work returned to Europe, because of the war. An area was opened up for Western Hemisphere artists to work on site, with the public being able to watch them work. One artist Diego Rivera from Mexico painted the largest free standing fresco style mural called the Pan American Unity Mural for the future library at City College. However due to lack of money it was never put up. After languishing in storage for 20 years it was eventually put in the foyer of the Theater at City College. This magnificent mural was our last stop..
The movies we saw on the 39 Fair are available from Craig Smith on a DVD for $20.
Submitted by Joanna Watney

San Francisco’s South East Neighborhoods Tour

June 27, 2006
San Francisco’s SE’s unique neighborhoods became known to a large group of tour guides and friends, June 27. Jean’s lively commentary on the history of the Farmer’s Market, Portola, Visitacion Valley, Ingleside, Little Hollywood, Cayuga and New Mission Terrace, McLaren Park and the Norcal Waste Treatment facility kept us informed and entertained.
The day began with a look at the site of the oldest, continuously, operating Farmer’s Market in the area beginning in 1944. We admired the colorful murals, painted by the Precita Eyes mural center, that have been recently added to the stalls and walls.
Franco Mancini (President of Friends of McLaren Park) came aboard at San Bruno Avenue in the Portola District and explained that horse drawn trolleys traveled on tracks down San Bruno Avenue, a main artery into SF during the Spanish days. With the largely Italian population in the past, Greenhouses and gardens were prominent. We passed the old Garibaldi nursery with roses still growing wildly out the top of broken greenhouse windows and were amazed at the Victorian “kit”houses.
The sunny, but windy neighborhood is a mix now of Spanish and Asian residents. We passed a 16 sq. block underground reservoir holding water for one-third of SF. Some homes here were built at the same time as the Sunset district. We admired McLaren Park, San Francisco’s second largest with 317 acres. Franco leads hiking trips regularly, and there is a dog friendly meadow, children’s play areas, several barbeque facilities, a couple lakes, tennis courts, 9 hole golf course (with a pub) with great views of the bay and the excellent Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. There are no massive crowds and plenty of parking, unlike Golden Gate Park.
For our look at Visitacion Valley, a native resident, Edie Epps, came aboard to share her insights and memories. She related that the area was named in 1777 and later became a Mexican land grant. It has the longest operating fire station. It was possible to buy a lot for $125 ($1 down & $1 a week). Population is a mix of Asian, Hispanic and African-American. She showed us the old 1800’s stagecoach stop, a roadhouse called 5 Mile House, along San Bruno Avenue. We later passed 7 Mile House on the corner of Geneva and Bayshore, the only remaining road house in it’s original occasion. (If you are looking for someplace unusual to dine w ith great food, you won’t be disappointed making the trek there. Live music is available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. JF)
Little Hollywood ( between Bayshore and Candlestick—or whatever it’s being called now…) was a 1920’s Crocker Bayshore tract with Craftsman homes built for $6000. and some in the California Mission style. There were once were dairies in the area, but the largest employer, the. Schlage Lock Company (locks, doorknobs, WWII ammo) closed its facility several years ago. The unusual ‘saw tooth’ design to the roof makes the building unique because it added more natural light to the factory.
We stopped to explore the Norcal Waste Treatment plant, a 44 acre site that processes San Francisco’s garbage. Debra Monk offered a power point presentation explaining their “Artist in Residence” program, begun in 1990. We watched trucks trundle in and out of the smelly “pit”, transferring material from smaller trucks to larger ones that take the refuse to the Altamont Pass area. Seagull heaven here! We walked up to a sculpture garden filled with creative art make of plastics, metals and other recycled items. Our path was paved with gravel, a remnant from the Loma Prieta earthquake. We admired wonderful examples of the art made by previous artists. We met the current artist in residence, Kim Well er, who is paid a stipend for 4 months, given studio space and unlimited access to the “dump”. She will have a show September 22. For more information and how you can buy a platter made of glass from shattered Muni sheltes, etc., go to: Click on “dump”.
Edie continued to explain about the trains in the area. Train service began very early (1863) and old remnants of previous lines remain, such as Train Tunnel #4. The Train Center is an exciting addition with the Bayshore Train Depot opening in 2004. New trees are a visible reminder that the area is undergoing a revitalization. Driving on Bayshore, we also saw the 3rd Street Light Rail Project, due to begin in early 2007. When completed there will be 18 surface stations that will serve many areas south of Market Street such as the Bayview, Dogpatch, etc.. 17% of the workforce comes from the neighborhoods it serves.
We passed the 1940’s (and soon to re renovated) library with a lovely mural called “Valley View”. In a population of 14,000, 22% are children and the highly diverse neighborhood has the highest percentage of owner occupied homes. We saw the Visitacion Valley Clubhouse built in the Craftsman style, Eichler Heritage Homes, the Sunnydale Housing Project with 767 family units, a Julia Morgan designed Presbyterian church and the Church of the Visitacion, the site of a former auto camp that closed many years ago.
We passed Crocker Amazon Park with the largest play structure for children in the City (community funded and built) with space for baseball, soccer, skateboarding (the only skateboarding facility in SF) and lots of open space. We drove down Amazon Street where Jerry Garcia (founder of the Grateful Dead) grew up. A bit of trivia–Jerry was in the army at the Presidio and learned to play guitar listening to the radio.
Lunch was enjoyed at the Granada Cafe, Italian family style cooking operating in the same location since the 50’s. During lunch Cristie Johnston from the ENCORE office (neighborhood revitalization group) explained how the Exclesior District is working to bring in businesses and revitalize the district. There will be an Exclesior District Street Fair October 8 with lots of booths, and live music from 10-6 at Ocean & Mission.
Enroute to meet Bonnie Sherk of Living Libraries, Lifeframes, Inc., at an area behind Balboa High School, we passed another Julia Morgan designed Presbyterian church at 32 Ocean Avenue. She explained the garden project, “the first living library and think park”. It was tucked between buildings and abounded in plantings of all types. Students and local residents work in and enjoy the garden. Her website is This nonprofit is devoted to linking local resources and making relevant transformations of an area. (She’s tapped into the still flowing Islais Creek below the playground to use the natural water source for the garden). (If any DMC’s read this, this is a super place to take children’s groups to learn something about natural environments. JF)
Traveling out Ocean Ave. we spotted Balboa Park, the Balboa BART station (the busiest in the BART system after downtown SF stations) and Lick-Wilmerding High School. a “green” school with solar energy supplying part of its energy needs. We also passed the massive campus of City College, much of it designed by renown architect Timothy Pflueger.
In the Ingleside district we admired the large El Rey Theater, now a Baptist church. We drove around Urbano Drive, once a horse race track from 1895 to 1900, then steam cars raced until 1905 when it became a refugee camp after the 1906 quake, then was gone by 1907.
We drove into the Ingleside neighborhood onto the Entrada loop to admire a 28 foot sundial built in 1913. Our intrepid Coach 21 driver, Kouch, had to back out of the loop because of a parked car. We were all impressed with his driving skill!
We stopped next at Brooks Park commanding stunning views atop the most southern hill in the City, overlooking Lake Merced, SFSU, Park Merced , Stonestown and the Pacific Ocean. A dedicated group of volunteers takes care of the site. Brooks Park steward, Peter Vaernet proudly showed the group what has been accomplished. The neighborhood’s “vision is to make Brooks Park a beacon for community health with community gardens, Tai Chi and native wild habitats where the next generation can be taught the value of community, neighbors, exercise, art, science and nature”. The Western Neighborhoods Assn’s website is
After a brief stop at the old Geneva Car Barn (behind which most of the charming historic streetcars rest when not on duty) we met Dan Weaver, in charge of the rebuilding and revitalization of this city landmark where one can still see damage from the 1906 earthquake
We picked up Franco Mancini again next to the only other bocce ball courts in the City in Crocker Amazon for more info about McLaren Park, a brief allude to the amphitheater in the area named after the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, then ended the tour at the pub in the Glen Eagles golf course, where we were met by non-other than the Emperor (Norton) himself. He enjoyed a libation along with the rest of the happy group. It was a highly educational and entertaining day. Thank you, Jean, for your organizational genius.
Submitted by Donna West-Piezzi

A Day in Steinbeck Country

July 28, 2006
A Journey through Steinbeck’s valley world led by Joan Wollenberger.
As we traveled down 280, 85 and 101 to Hollister, Joan told us the history, past and present of the areas we were passing through. On the other side of historical Hollister is the delightful winding Cienega road, leading up to our first stop, the DeRose Winery. On the way up we passed a phenomenal sight. Right next to the road, running for about 200 yds, was a ditch. This is where the San Andreas earthquake fault can be seen on the surface. More information…Gilroy Visitor’s Bureau 408-842-6436, and Hollister-San Benito County Chamber of Commerce 831-637-5315
The DeRose Winery, is situated right over the fault line. This can be seen in the off set of the walls in the winery building (it claims to be the largest wine cellar under one roof) and at a large crack in the floor. It moves about 3cms. each year. The nickname for this winery is “The Creeping Winery”.Founded in 1851, it claims to be the oldest winery in California. With a checkered past it has been revived by the DeRose family. Obtained by a land exchange, the family acquired the property in 1989. While checking out the boundary line they came upon old vines buried beneath the natural bush. It took three years to clear the vineyards. With 170 acres of the 450 under vines, no more are going to be planted. Some of the vines are over a 100yrs. old. With part of the vineyards under irrigation, their specialty is dry vines. With no irrigation the grapes are stressed, giving an excellent taste to the wine. More info
The next stop was the historical plaza of San Juan Bautista. Information: Juan Bautista de Anza National Historical Trail, The mission was founded in 1797 by Father Lasuen and dedicated to John the Baptist on June 24th. It is #15 in the chain of missions starting at San Diego. It soon became too small, as the Indian population were friendly and co-operative and outgrew the church which also was badly damaged in earthquakes. A new cornerstone was laid on June 13th 1803, dedicated 1812, and is the present church today. The church and 3 of the 12 remaining buildings are still under the Roman Catholic church as it is an active parish. These buildings form one corner of the Historic Plaza. The remaining restored buildings around the Plaza are under the State Park system. An informative tour was given of the Plaza by the leading ranger. With the Mission in built 1803, Plaza Hotel in 1814, Castro House in 1840, Plaza Hall in 1868 and Plaza
Stable in 1874, this must be one of the best examples of early American architecture and history. Lunch at Jardines Mexican Restaurant in the heart of the town of Bautista was very welcome and delicious.
The drive through the very productive, intensive farming area of the Salinas valley bought us to the town of Salinas and the National Steinbeck Center. This is an outstanding museum portraying the works of John Steinbeck who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. To finish the day we were conducted on an hour walking tour of the historical sights of Salinas downtown’s Main St., the scene for Steinbeck’s novel “East of Eden” about his boyhood roots, by an 85 year old Steinbeck Center docent, Leona Hull. More information …
Salinas agriculture:,
John Steinbeck: and The movie “The Wild One”, starring Marlon Brando filmed in 1954 & set in Hollister, was viewed along with enjoying libation & snack trays provided by the Program Chairwomen, for the bus journey back to the City. Entertainment to end with a flourish a very varied and interesting day.
Submitted by Joanna Watney

North Beach Bakeries

September 14, 2006
It was a glorious sunny day! Our guide was Barbara Dimas and she was allowing us to accompany her on her neighborhood stroll through North Beach. Being half Italian, as well as speaking the language, she was able to flavor our experience through the North Beach Bakeries with cultural and linguistic nuances and insights. Ironically, her great-grandmother lived on Greenwich Street, where she lives today and her grandfather owned a bakery on Union street, thus enticing her to bake at the tender age of eight. Continuing on with the ancestral legacy, today, she works and gives cooking classes/demonstrations at “Sur la Table” on Maiden Lane.
Our tour was peppered with an entourage of historical tidbits, behind the scene glimpses, family pride, passion, individuality and entrepreneurship. The underlying repetitive theme, was that of non-conformity, artistry and perseverance. As we sauntered along, a number of “magical” moments presented themselves during our sojourn.
We met at Saints Peter and Paul Church. Starting at Washington Square’s non-descript Liguria Bakery at the corner of Filbert and Stockton. This unassuming store front has been serving, what a lot of us consider to be the best focaccia in San Francisco, for over 95 years! They have such an avid following that by 8 a.m. people are lining up for a taste of their pizza, raisin, garlic, olive, spring onion, mushroom, or plain focaccia. They say that the early bird catches the worm, well so it is over here, because once they run out, they close shop and its arrividerci until the next day! I have personally experienced the disappointment and frustration of arriving too late many a time!
The Italian French Bakery at Grant and Union is famous for, among other things, sesame cookies, St. Francis rolls, Amaretti, and biscotti, and provides a year round supply of “panatoni” (Christmas cake w/dried fruit). Their 2 ovens date back to 1907. A personal thank you note written by Francis Ford Coppola on a pizza wheel, hangs by the entrance. The bakers work around the clock. On one side, the ovens stretch all the way to the level of the store front. We were privileged to see the bakers reaching into the ovens with a 10’-12’ pole to take out the crispy piping hot bread!
On down the street we went, with Barbara pointing out the North Beach Pizza at Grant and Union, an institution in itself … great pizza and one can buy fresh pizza dough for home preparation. Continuing on down the street, lo and behold, out pops the son of the founder of the unique Macchiarini Designs (Barbara got her wedding ring custom made here). It claims to be the longest continuously running modern art gallery/studio to date in the US. The modernist/neo-modernist individually hand crafted designs, explore space giving depth and perspective to the individually hand crafted wearable sculpture. The customer and the creator have a conversation; it is then in turn expressed in sculpture, the client is present when it is casted; and the pleasure of breaking the mold is further extended to the client…and voila…your one of a kind memory is documented! His father opened his atelier in the 1930’s and consistently resisted society’s pressure to mass produce!!
Traipsing through the Upper Grant shops, each specializing in its own unique handcrafted specialities, we arrived at our next venue, the kitchen/design studio of “I Dream of Cake”, at 1351 Grant Ave. The fabulous window display of “sculpted cakes” were beyond edible belief. The “Modern Bride” magazine called Shin Min Li’s studio, the “world’s first cake gallery!” The cakes are only created once commissioned (minimum, one week’s notice). Typically, the celebration cakes cost around $350, with each slice/serving running around $8-$25. The resulting pieces of edible art are collaborations with artists, sculptors, painters, etc.
Onward ho! Passing “Ideale”, our able guide’s favorite restaurant, we stop to pop into The Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi (1st a parish, now a shrine), as well as the Café Trieste on Vallejo, between Grant and Columbus. The former gave San Francisco its name, and the latter its first espresso (Papa Giani, 1956). Here again, we chanced upon an insight…Molly McGettigan Arthur, the Renaissance Project Director of the Shrine ( ), came out to tell us about the proposed Umbrian style piazza that would occupy the street between the shrine and the café.
We crossed the street, walking past Molinari’s Deli’s, past Cinque Terre”, a hidden treasure…serving great food and rarely ever full. Next, we sat down to “pinoli” (pine nut cookies) and coffee at the 1911 “Victoria Pastry Shop” (Vallejo and Stockton), so named in 1914, after the previous owner’s daughter. They make their own “torrone” (Christmas Cake) year round and, of course, their signature cake, “St. Honore” (Patron St. of Baker’s). A quirky story relayed to us by the able counter staff, also named Victoria, was of the “ancient” giant safe that had been stolen years ago and then thrown and subsequently retrieved from the bay because the thief did not succeed in opening it!
Retracing our steps, passing “Little City Butcher” which serves up homemade sausages, lamb, we make our next stop, back to Columbus St. to taste Stella Pastry’s patented, “Sacrepantina” (exclamation like “sacre bleu”) their specialty, rum based sponge cake with custard, cream, wine, and whipped cream). Co-owner Sylvia, served up generous portions of this wonder. They are also known for the best “canoli” in North Beach.
Danilo’s family run bakery at 516 Green Street, was our next venue. The present owner, Walter is from Lucca, and continues the proud tradition of signature almond cakes as well as fresh baked breads on-site. Also available are sandwiches, select food items, drinks, meat and cheese. Going behind the store, into the back kitchen, down the stairs (saddled by a delivery slide between floors), we were able to view the underground oven…over 12 feet in length!!! One can buy excellent bread crumbs here as well, made from bread that they hang dry from the ceiling.
Last of all, but not least, “La Boulange” opened in 2006, serving coffee, French cakes and pastries, breads, quiches, etc., one of several in the city, offered us an assortment of titillating tart tastings. This was the only bakery that we visited where the J.P. Glaser & Company Oven Builders ovens were not present. (The heat in these ovens are more intense and spread the temperatures more evenly.) Needless to say, we had a belly full of food and a heart full of experiences! Thanks to Signorina Dimas.
Notes – Beth Graubart
Writer – Anita Rao
Photographer – Will Segen
Date – 14 September 2006
Tour – North Beach Bakeries
Guide – Barbara Dumas

The Golden Gate Bridge, and the Palace of Fine Arts

November 13, 2006
Have you ever wanted to know what’s behind the door of the building next to the
Toll booths on the Golden Gate Bridge that say, ‘Golden Gate Bridge and Highway Transportation District’? We did just that on November 13th when The Guild members met in the large Board room for a presentation given by Mary Currie, Public Affairs Director; Kellee Hopper, Marketing and Communications Director; along with Kary Witt, Bridge Manager, Rocky Dellaroca, Superintendent, Tom Scott, Painter, and Mike Locati, Bridge Captain.
The District operates 3 systems: the Bridge, Golden Gate Transit, and the Golden Gate Ferry. It was formed in 1928 when 6 counties voted to secure the bonds needed to finance construction. No federal funds were used.
Construction began in 1933, and the Bridge was opened to the public for Pedestrian Day on May 27, 1937, and to vehicle traffic the next day at a cost of $35 million to build. Workers were protected with hard hats, glare-free goggles and a respirator for protection from fumes generated from sand blasting, as well as safety nets underneath the cables which saved the lives of 19 men who formed the “halfway to hell” club! They also ate special diets to combat dizziness and freezing cold winds.
Other interesting facts:
The Bridge’s span was the longest in the world until the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge opened in 1964 with a 60 foot longer span.
Although the Bridge is not gold, it was so named after the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance point to San Francisco Bay. The ‘international orange’ color was specified by Irving Morrow, a local architect. The gray primer originally contained lead but is now regulated by the Air Quality Management District and should last 25 years. It takes 10,000 gallons of orange paint to cover the Bridge. Contrary to common thought, the Bridge is not painted end to end every year, but by structural priorities set annually.
There is an ongoing maintenance program, including the following major improvements over a period of 40 years: reversible lanes, one-way tolls, replacement of suspender ropes, replacement of roadway deck, FasTrak lanes and public safety railing.
Current projects include: a seismic retrofit and suicide barrier study. Proposed programs include: a main cable restoration, under-roadway rehabilitation, and a public discussion on tolls-all to begin in 2007. The Bridge has closed 3 times due to high winds, for a combined total of approximately 8 1/2 hours. The Bridge can withstand an earthquake in the mid-70’s on the Richter Scale.
The Bridge was designed by Joseph Strauss with influences by the aforementioned Irving Morrow, consulting architect, who designed the original lighting.
The current Board of Directors consists of 19 members including representatives from each of the original six counties when the District was formed. They are: San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Del Norte. There are approximately 824 employees.
Security has increased since 9/11. A new position, Security and Emergency Management Specialist was added to focus on transit-related programs and emergency preparedness. There are more Bridge personnel. California Highway Patrol, U.S. Park Police, Park Ranger and the Coast Guard. Tanker trucks are escorted across the Bridge. In 2004, a $2.1 million grant was received from the Department of Homeland Security to add and upgrade surveillance equipment, etc.
A corporate sponsorship program began in 2006 to raise funds, without selling naming rights. Events include a holiday ornament sale and a Bridge holiday event on December 8th in Joseph Strauss Plaza. The District is seeking additional sponsors to host fund-raising events as sources of revenue for an $87 million deficit.
Ferry transportation includes service from Sausalito and Larkspur. Both services combined carried almost 2 million customers last year. The Sausalito ferry will have more space for bicycles, and the Larkspur ferry will add service to every Giants home game.
For further information log onto the Golden Gate Bridge’s websites:;;; and 
The Palace of Fine Arts
On a rainy afternoon, Jan Berchefeldt, Executive Director of the Maybeck Foundation came aboard our coach to tell us about the current restoration of the Palace of Fine Arts (PFA), built for the Pan-Pacific Exposition in 1915 to show that San Francisco was “back in business” after the 1906 earthquake and fire. It was a celebration of both the Panama Canal, opened in 1914, and the 400th anniversary of Balboa’s discovery of the Pacific Ocean.
Bernard Maybeck, best knows as the architect of the Palace of Fine Arts, lived from 1862 to 1957. After attending the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, he came to San Francisco and joined the firm of A. Page Brown and established his own practice in Berkeley where he was a professor and head of the Architectural Design department. In 1951, he was awarded the American Institute of Architect’s highest honor, the Gold Medal.
The Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was built in 14 months after a one-night pledge of $4 million, equivalent to $75 million today. It covered 637 acres and stretched from Ft. Mason to where Crissy Field is today. The PFA covers 17 acres and was the art gallery and sculpture garden of the Fair. It held the largest art showing west of the Mississippi, including French and Asian art and had one of the first impressionist shows in the US. Much of the art was purchased by San Franciscans and remains in the Bay Area today.
The PFA was known as the most perfect marriage of landscape and architecture ever designed. The Corinthian columns are symmetrical. It is known for its lagoon, for being an architectural icon, and because it represents a chapter in San Francisco’s history.
The lagoon is filled by natural springs from fresh water which flows from the hills to SF Bay. It is now a wildlife habitat with migrating birds that roost and nest there and fly to Alcatraz to feed. The birds include Peregrine Falcons, Red-tailed Hawks, and Black-Crowned Night Herons. There are currently 7 swans as well as turtles and fish in the lagoon. The reconstruction includes 12 feet of steel siding around the lagoon, a newly-seeded lawn and wider sidewalks and a raised lip along the edge to reduce fall-ins. The benches are now more comfortable. The lagoon will be closed for nesting season from January to approximately August 15th. This is the most popular spot in the United States for weddings.
In 2003 the Maybeck Foundation and the City of SF formed a partnership to restore the PFA to its previous grandeur. The goal was to raise $21 million from private citizens, foundations, corporations and public sources to fund restoration of the Rotunda and Colonnade, landscapes and terracing. Donna Ewald Huggins, a 1915 World’s Fair aficionado, initiated the idea for the reconstruction, raising about $16 million of the estimated $21 million cost.
Forty years ago Walter Johnson, a ‘one-man industrial holding company’ donated $2.4 million matched by a grant from the State and a bond issue from the City. As a “thank you”, Johnson was given two of the Garland Ladies bas relief sculptures which were cast as extras for the 26 on the Garland Ladies Colonnade. These ladies are made of reinforced concrete. Those in the park itself are on giant urns. Johnson gave another $2 million in 1975 to finish the Colonnade. These ‘Garland Ladies’ are near the backside of the PFA Rotunda, and the ‘sister’ Garland Ladies are across the street at the former Walter Johnson home.
We grabbed our umbrellas and walked with Jan to see the inner dome currently under restoration from damage caused by the Loma Prieta Earthquake and the Colonnade columns which show spalling (a rusting deterioration from the inside) which causes the concrete to break off and the ‘weeping ladies’ shown leaning over urns on the top of the columns. Bernard Maybeck’s own words were summing up my general impression, “I find that the keynote of the art palace should be that of sadness modified by the feeling that beauty has a soothing influence”. He thought of his creation as a temporary ruin, reflecting the ephemeral nature of earthly life. His original creation was restored in the 1930’s and again in the 1960’s. The hope of this campaign is to ensure that the Palace of Fine Arts will be here to enrich future generations of visitors.
In the next phase, the Rotunda and Colonnade, including the 26 garland ladies will be rehabilitated, and the inside of the basins will get foliage in the planters.
The third phase will include restoring the inner dome of the Rotunda which is temporarily wearing a “hairnet” to prevent loose pieces from falling. The color returns to its original orange color from the primer gray which was a cost-cutting done in the 60’s. The restoration is scheduled for completion in 2008.
To learn more about this remarkable landmark, visit; or email The Maybeck Foundation at:
The Beach Chalet
We enjoyed a delicious 3-course lunch with an ocean view at the historic Beach Chalet and Microbrewery on the Great Highway at the entrance to Golden Gate Park, mid-day of the Guild Program. The current building was designed by architect Willis Polk for $60,000 funded by an expenditure from the San Francisco Park Commission and was completed in 1925. Unfortunately, Polk died before it was finished.
It was built in Spanish Colonial style with a 200-seat restaurant on the second floor and a public lounge and changing rooms on the first floor for beachgoers. During the early 1930’s two sisters operated an elegant tea room on the first floor using brass rail partitions to protect their Oriental carpets from the sand-covered bathers.
During the late 1990’s, muralist Lucien Labaudt was provided with a grant from the Federal Government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) to direct the decoration of 1500 square feet on the first floor with frescoes, mosaics and wood carvings which depicted figures and activities that were involved with is life in San Francisco.
Labaudt, a Parisian, was born in 1880. He studies art in London but was mostly self-taught. He settled in S.F. in 1910 and taught at the California School of Fine Arts before founding his own school of fashion design and modern art and experimented with Surrealism and Cubism. In World War II he became a correspondent for LIFE Magazine and lost his life in a military plane crash in 1943.
Plans for restoration of the art and infrastructure were begun in 1991 with an allocation provided by the City to the Recreation and Park Department, matched with funds from a Golden Gate Park bond for an addition of a Visitors Center and back garden.
With sensitivity to the building and its history, a combination restaurant and microbrewery were formed and, after being closed since 1981, the Beach Chalet reopened on December 29, 1996.
Submitted by Diane Shemanski