If I asked you where Mt. Olympus was, would you ever guess San Francisco? Given that, would you ever be able to find it?
This is a snapshot of a part of San Francisco that doesn’t exist anymore. Stunning isn’t it? Many of the city’s stairways lead up to incredible views, but the stairs up to our own Mt. Olympus put one in the middle of a suburban-seeming cul de sac, where the view is mostly blocked by on all sides by condos.
And all that remains of the “Triumph” of Mt. Olympus is its pedestal. As if to cover up this egregious act, trees circumscribe the entire hilltop perch.
At one time the statue, gifted by Adolf Sutro, marked the center of the city. If you had the audacity to scale its hill, you were rewarded with the striking drama of the urban panorama undulating around hills (we have over 50), green swaths of Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, and the proud red bridge pointing to the mountains beyond.
The urban landscape is mutable, even incapable of remaining the same. But in the name of change old theaters are torn down or turned into gyms. Ridiculous towers of glass, modeled after air filters, spring up with freeway views and plenty of parking. We may wake up one day to find that, yes, they did actually pave over paradise and put up a parking lot.
Ok, sorry about that last one. But Joni’s right, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
Change can be positive, but I think it’s important to preserve SF’s peculiar metropolitan-meets-natural beauty. Because once the hills are topped with homes and the waterfront stacked with towers, all we’ll have left to remind us of how beautiful this city once was are the photographs.
- Where we were:
San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection
- Where we’re headed:
SF Planning: Better Neighborhoods
Save the Neighborhood Theaters