Friday, April 9, 2010

Streets in the Shape of a Mission Bell

Where would the Mission Bell be? Look closely at a San Francisco street map. Here's a hint: if it's a tourist map you probably won't find it because most of those maps show the city stops at Market Street. There's your hint. The answer is at the bottom of this post.

But first, I'm still grumbling at the tendency of perfectly decent newspaper journalists to write about SF neighborhoods other than those they're accustomed to with descriptions like "way out there" and "out of the way" and "most people have never heard of it". Those who live in these neighborhoods know where they are, and you know, they're not any more out of the way than the Marina or North Beach.

In recent weeks the Chronicle's Carl Nolte has written about the Excelsior and the southern stretch of Noe Valley as if these neighborhoods were at the ends of the earth. But really, are they any further from the center of town then, say, Presidio Heights? No, they're not. We should question these habits and assumptions in the press and elsewhere (those confounded maps). And then knock it off. San Francisco is 49 square miles, and stretches from the Pacific Ocean to Daly City to the Bay. Oh yeah, and the Golden Gate! I forgot because it's so far out there!

So, in praise of neighborhoods every bit as populated and interesting and unique as our neighbors to the north, I celebrate my own neighborhood, St. Mary's Park. Considered South Bernal by some, it's squeezed between Mission Street and 280 a few blocks from the Glen Park BART station. It's the former site of St. Mary's College, which packed up and left for Moraga at the turn of the century because it was too bloody cold here. The sweetest little houses you've ever seen (in the words of the accountant in It's a Wonderful Life) built in the 1920's.

Look to your right to see the Mission Bell from the sky and in a zoning map. That's St. Mary's Park. Our streets are named after priests from the college (Justin, Murray, etc.). Landmark designation at College/Mission is an actual mission bell. Cool, right?

1 comment:

  1. Carl Nolte lives in (North) Bernal on Winfield Street. I'd bet that the Chron's editors tweaked the story to make it sound like we live in the boonies! (I work with people who think anything south of 25th Street is the "outer Mission" ...)

    Glad I found your site -- I'd like to link to it on Let me know if that's OK with you.