Return to San Francisco

San Francisco from the air: Golden Gate bridge on the left, Bay bridge leading over Treasure Island towards Oakland/Berkeley on the right. The smallest  island in the middle is Alcatraz. Golden Gate park is the green rectangle to the left. I used to live at Fillmore, a few blocks right from the Panhandle coming out  Golden Gate park.

San Francisco from the air: Golden Gate bridge on the left, Bay bridge leading over Treasure Island towards Oakland/Berkeley on the right. The smallest island in the middle is Alcatraz. Golden Gate park is the green rectangle to the left. I used to live at Fillmore, a few blocks right from the Panhandle coming out Golden Gate park.


This summer the Design History Society conference brought me back to San Francisco. In 1997 I did an internship here at Pentagram Design. A few years later I returned and applied for a job as a designer, ending up getting offers from several firms. However eventually I decided to stay in the Netherlands to study at university, instead of working in California. A decision that I do wonder about sometimes, what if…

So it was with some anticipation that I returned to San Francisco. Was the city changed, since I was there 15 years ago? Would I still like to live there? A few glances around while being there showed me that San Francisco had become more gentrified. In essence however it was still the same city. However, what did have changed was my attitude towards the city.

Almost two decades ago I loved the youth culture, visiting concerts, performances, bars, coffee houses and clubs, the exoticness of China town, the Castro district and Lower Haights district where I lived with some people who had considerable experience using illegal substances. But with the experience I had gained since then, San Francisco suddenly looked less attractive

The woodwork of the victorian houses in SF looked great though! Still it must cost a fortune to maintain, let alone buying a property like this. Although SF is know as one of the most expensive places in the US, the quality of the houses in general seemed bad, most houses looked squeaky and rather small. Public space was neglected and there were still a lot of beggars. I was aware of this at the time, but did not think a lot about the political underpinnings of all thus. Now I felt a little disappointed.

Exiting San Francisco Airport. Interestingly they use the DOT exit pictogram here, which you do not see that often.

Exiting San Francisco Airport. Interestingly they use the DOT exit pictogram here, which you do not see that often.

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