Being Italian it was natural for me to want to include North Beach in this A to Z and I was happy to see there was a coloring page for it. “Little Italy,” as it is called, is known for St. Peter and Paul Church and was home to the likes of Joe DiMaggio, who lived there for a while with Marilyn Monroe. It was also the site of the “Beat Generation” beginnings. Our friend from Kerouac Alley, Jack Kerouac, hung out there as did Allan Ginsburg and in that neighborhood you can find the City Lights Bookstore! Amazing how all these things come together, because as you leave North Beach, you enter Chinatown. In fact, as I walked around Washington Square to take my pictures I think I saw more Asians than Italians!
I was lucky and found parking right across the street from the church (you can see the tail end of my Honda HRV on the right of the picture behind the tree) and got out to walk around Washington Square. There are lots of benches around the park, a nice pathway and in the middle is a statue of Ben Franklin with a time capsule in it, to be opened in 2079. It looks like there were not very many people around but actually it was quite bustling with people walking their dogs and doing exercises. As I have been taking these pictures around the city I’ve been particularly mindful of privacy issues so I waited until I had a clear shot.
Remember Lillie Hitchcock Coit, the woman who loved the volunteer firemen and who Coit Tower is named after? She also has a statue here in Washington Square dedicated to firemen.
All around the square are Italian restaurants and stores. I ate at Original Joes a few years ago. Great food.
And we can’t leave out the Italian Athletic Club. I can remember going to Knights of Columbus dances there with my parents. They were always hoping I would meet some nice Italian Catholic boy – LOL
A couple other snaps from around the square. The Barbary Coast was a red-light district on the edge of North Beach, home to brothels, bars, jazz clubs and variety shows like the current day Beach Blanket Babylon.
And as I was getting back in my car I looked up and this is what I saw. It is becoming an old friend!
I have one more “N” for today and that is another of the 7 Hills, Nob Hill, home to Grace Cathedral and many of the city’s upscale hotels like the Mark Hopkins, Fairmont, and Stanford Court. It is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, sometimes called “Snob Hill.” Grace Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Episcopal Diocese of California. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a sermon there in 1965 celebrating the completion of one of its renovations. I’ve never been inside but it is very impressive from the outside. (Times have changed of course but when I was growing up it was a “sin” for a Catholic person to go in a church of another faith). I mentioned trying not to get others in my pictures and that was a challenge in the case of the stairs, below. There was a guy running up and down them for exercise and I had to time my picture just right.
The stained glass window is very pretty at lit up at night. Speaking of stained glass, across the street from Grace Cathedral is the Masonic Center Auditorium. It is a small venue and has an amazing stained glass window in the lobby depicting the story of the Masons. We went and saw the illusionist Michael Carbonaro there. It was a great show. If you have never seen the Carbonaro Effect on TV, you should check it out. I did text “CARBO” to try and meet Michael after the show but we didn’t get picked.
Okay, we are almost at the end of the second week! I hope you’ve been having fun with me as I travel the City of San Francisco and that you’ll continue on with the journey. I have a few more surprises coming up!
Disclaimer notice. The coloring book pages are from the inserts the San Francisco Chronicle put out and I mentioned them in my theme reveal so you can go to that to get the info about the artists if you are interested.