Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Release

This afternoon as I left the San Francisco library where I work, instead of walking quickly away I stopped and looked back long enough to take a picture. Visible here is the new section added to the front of the building ten years ago. I work in the old part of the building, in a secluded set of offices that people seldom can find. The windows there face out the back and all I could see through them today was murky gray cold winter weather. I think my emotions got the better of me when the sunlight surprised me in the afternoon, because I don't think it has ever occurred to me before to take a picture of the library.

On the other side of Fulton Street is an apartment building that has always held my attention for one peculiar reason. The window glass in just one flat – the top-floor corner flat – is tinted blue. I have been glancing up at the blue glass (see below) for twenty years and wondering how it came to be installed. But I don't have any expectation of ever finding out.

When I stood underneath the blue windows and looked back across the street one more time toward the campus that employs me, I feared perhaps I would turn into a pillar of salt as punishment for lingering in the neighborhood of work. The building above was under renovation for a couple of years and just reopened last year. It was built less than 100 years ago – sometime in the 1920s, I think – but in San Francisco that is nevertheless old enough to get it listed as a historic building. And the rules about historic buildings helped greatly to prolong the renovations, I was told.

I walked down Cole Street away from campus, turning east at Grove Street, and that is where I saw the dilapidated rear end of the large house above. The front part facing onto Cole used to be equally derelict, but over the course of several years it has been patched and painted. Perhaps the back part will get its turn too, over the course of the next several years.

There are some fairly florid apartment buildings on Grove, particularly on the corners. It must have been a long time since I walked this way because they didn't look familiar.

Under the half-moon portico with its eclectic Grecian ornaments, there are even mirrored doors!

It was an afternoon full of surprises, not least the horse-head below, proudly displayed in high relief in the center of its own pediment. The horse-head building is on Grove near Divisadero. I decided it was probably a stable in former days. This guess satisfied me. The actual facts will most likely remain mysterious, just like the blue windows.