I took a walk recently to see a quirky San Frandisco landmark. The structure is the kind of thing you’d expect to find in Ellay, but I would have thought Frisko, at least in its present incarnation, would prefer to believe it is above such kookiness.
My, how The City has changed. There was a time when big dreamers and big hustlers had a vision as big and outrageous as any in the Southland (and probably still are, only not so blatant).
It was a fair hike to my destination, winding through a neighborhood of serene, established wealth. No painted ladies here. No tourists. No cable cars or even any street cars.
I sat on an ornate stone bench and beheld the manmade wonder, which BTW was just as much fun as I’d hoped. After a while the surrounding cluster of homes, maybe ten in all, drew my attention.
In this venerable enclave there were no McMansions crowding the property lines and the sensibilities. The street was a pot pourri of architectural styles, from fancy to simple. There were real lawns and gardens. Save for the size and aspect bespeaking wealth, one of the houses could have been on my grandparents’ block back in the Midwest.
But mainly the view took me back to Los Angeles, the gracious older Los Angeles of art deco and red-tiled roofs. I could have been in Hancock Park, Toluca Lake, Los Feliz. (Remember Norma Desmond? Phyllis Dietrichson?) There were even a succulent garden and a palm tree.
As I returned home, I noticed sprinkled among the gracious residential grand dames the occasional home painted in a vibrant (read: wacky) color and sporting exterior decoration that was an affluent version of an old-style hippie pad, or a madcap garden cascading down many miniature terraces like a waterfall of rainbow blossoms. Established in wealth, yes, but not staid and stuffy.
In a city that boasts of its gorgeous Victorians as if its architecture begins and ends there, it was delightful to discover such variety.
(You might have noticed that I have not named the landmark or the neighborhood. I’d rather continue to enjoy the seclusion of a peaceful little enclave.)