Monday, October 27, 2008

San Francisco Chinatown - Part I

DSC03060 San Francisco Chinatown Goddess of Democracy

I had a glorious weekend in San Francisco with my fantastic book club friends. Even though it is only forty miles away from Palo Alto, we felt like we really got away from it all. The autumn weather was perfection and the weekend flowed effortlessly from one event to the next. Several of us chose to take the San Francisco Chinatown tour offered by the all-volunteer organization San Francisco City Guides sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library.

Our City Guide, Mae Schoenig, met us in the heart of Chinatown at the historic Portsmouth Square. She not only shared many nuggets of history of Chinatown with us, she also shared how she and her family fit into this history.

DSC02955 - Mae Schoenig
We learned that Portsmouth Square is where the discovery of gold was announced in May of 1848. It is also the site of the terminus of the first cable-propelled street car in the world, and it is the home of the first public school in California.

Robert Louis Stevenson lived in San Francisco when he wrote “Kidnapped” and "Treasure Island" . This marker was erected in his honor:

DSC03070 Portsmouth Square Robert Louis Stevenson Remembered
The poem reads:
To Remember Robert Louis Stevenson
To be honest, to be kind – to earn a little, to spend a little less - to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence - to renounce when that shall be necessary, and not be embittered - to keep a few friends but these without capitulation - above all on the same grim condition to keep friends with himself - here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy
A bronze statue of the Goddess of Democracy stands at Portsmouth Square. It is a replica of the impromptu foam and paper mache statue that Chinese students created during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

DSC03062 San Francisco Chinatown Goddess of Democracy & Transamerica Pyramid

DSC03061 San Francisco Chinatown Goddess of Democracy

The resemblance to our Statue of Liberty is of course the highest form of flattery. I hope that if a similar struggle for democracy were to occur somewhere abroad today its activists would still choose the Statue of Liberty as inspiration.


tangobaby said...

I remember thinking this weekend that you had certainly scored the weather jackpot! I'm so glad you had a great getaway and now you've inspired me to do one of those city tours, too. It's been on my list of fun things to do.

I remember finding that statue one early morning while I was still wandering around Chinatown before work to take photos for my book. It was such a surprise to find it there, and the way the early morning sun glinted on the golden ship was wonderful. A lot of elderly people were in the park practicing their tai-chi and it was a wonderful memory.

Relyn Lawson said...

I love seeing the SF pictures and hearing more about the city's history. But, what I really must know is, what is your book club reading?

Dutchbaby said...

We scored big on every front! It was a perfect getaway - just what the doctor ordered!

Lucky you for seeing the early morning sun glinting like that. When I was taking that photo, I remember wishing that the lighting was more favorable. I had to go to photoshop land in order to even see the shadows on the ship. I hope to go back to Chinatown soon, but definitely during the magic hour.

Dutchbaby said...

Bless you, Relyn, for sprinkling with your fairy dust comments all over my blog! We are reading "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiel Hammett, cleverly chosen by last month's host in honor of our upcoming SF adventure. I highly recommend this vintage book.

Dutchbaby said...
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