I went to San Francisco yesterday [December 1965] for the first time in two months. After wandering around the city, as dusk was deepening, I climbed Telegraph Hill. Past the last houses, onto Filbert Street – the last quarter-turn of the street to the parking lot. I could feel the fresh wind and smell and hear the small pine trees surrounding; could see a few lights over their tops. Saw a statue that scared me because it looked like a huge man standing there. Then reached the hill top – and one of the most beautiful scenes in the world was before me.
The sun had set behind the Golden Gate, leaving a pink patch in the sky above the bridge, whose cables were now strung with lights. The headland of the Gate reared dark, and as my eyes swept clockwise I saw the lights of Tiburon and Sausalito, and farther away the towering Mt. Tamalpais. Below in the same direction was Fisherman’s Wharf gaily lighted. The eye swung to see the distant Richmond-Berkeley shore, and straight east the Berkeley campanile rose at a modest height with the hills towering overhead. Below the long series of docks began, with one ship mysteriously lighted and a couple of tugboats moving westward and blowing their whistles. Then the Bay Bridge spread out in all its length, leading to Oakland disappearing down the coast; the bridge’s near span seemed awesomely large with lighted trucks proceeding majestically along. Then you began to see the buildings to the south in the city, steadily increasing in size; Mt. San Bruno in the distance, and a couple of the local forested peaks, then the massive Mark Hopkins Hotel and the new office building dominating the center of the city. Then the Presidio headland dropping off sharply and the eye had come full circle.
This is part of why I live in the San Francisco area. I guess I am late in the game, but have been captured like many others before me.
A bus came scooting along and I was glad for its warmth. “A beautiful sight”, I said to the driver. He said “Well, I don’t care for cities to look at. It must have looked much better before man came here.”