January 31, 2011

The Embarcadero, San Francisco

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

San Francisco's Embarcadero has gone through tremendous changes during my lifetime.   I can remember it with bustling activity of ships being loaded and unloaded, and even a local railroad system that served the various docks. Today, and for a variety of reasons, the ships do their business across the bay at the Port of Oakland.

In the early '60's city planners decided that the way to solve their traffic crisis was to build a huge double-decker elevated freeway right down the center of the Embarcadero.   It blocked views and was generally was hated by everyone. It was determined that it wasn't earthquake-safe and eventually the structure was torn down.

Today, the Embarcadero is for lovers.   Lovers of San Francisco, and just plain lovers -- oh you know, the romantic kind.

This is "Cupid's Span", a gift from Donald Fisher, a man with tons of money he made as head of the trendy clothing distributor, Gap International.

The 65 foot tall sculpture was designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, and was fabricated in 2003.   Resembling Cupid's bow and arrow with the arrow implanted in the ground, the statue symbolizes the place where Tony Bennett "left his heart".   Some folks like it, some people hate it -- but one thing for sure, the sculpture is big and impressive and is here to stay.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

I love San Francisco because it is just a little bit   f a r   o u t . . .
I mean, what other city has a Flash Gordon style spaceship standing by?   Where do you want to go?   Mars?   Maybe you'd like to fly through the rings of Saturn?   Okay, okay, lets go -- the line starts right behind me.

Shamelessly plagiarising the website explaining the rocketship; "The Raygun Gothic Rocketship is a rococo retro-futurist future-rustic vernacular between yesterday’s tomorrow and the future that never was, a critical kitsch somewhere between The Moons of Mongo & Manga Nouveau."

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

This is about all of the sun San Francisco saw on Sunday morning.   The weather was for the birds.   That imposing structure in the background is the Bay Bridge.   Driving on it is generally a nightmare.   It's for the birds!

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John @ Beans and I on the Loose said...

Looking forward to the story behind today's banner shot. It got a "wow" from me. The rocket ship looks very much like (if not the same) as one that was out at the Burning Man event a few years ago. Being that the bulk of the artists contributing to the event are from the Bay Area, I wouldn't be surprised if this is it. People could go inside it, but the line was always too long or it was closed.

Scott Law said...

That arrow sculpture looks cool, I hope someday you'll show us the bigger picture. I like that rocket too. That would be fun to visit.

Civic Center said...

Hate the Oldenburg sculpture for a whole passel of reasons and love the Deco Rocket Ship for a whole set of other reasons. And though it may sound crass, the Holocaust Memorial sculpture has always struck me as in-your-face in all the wrong ways in a really inappropriate place, but your photos are so great that they're almost making me reconsider.

Tomate Farcie said...

Another great post! :)

I remember the double decker piece of freeway (that's how you'd get in the FD from Marin, if memory serves) Didn't it partially collapse during the earthquake of 1989? Glad they took it down.

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