It strikes me that SF has been impressively well-organized and smart in both its public-policy and its personal-behavior response to covid. I believe this is reflected in its infection numbers per 100,000 residents. The JHU site told me it was at 3,731. This is far fewer cases per 100,000 than any of the other major US cities or counties I’ve checked. Atlanta’s DeKalb & Fulton counties, for example – home of the CDC itself – have well over 7,000 cases per 100,000 residents. NYC’s Manhattan island (New York County), is actually doing better than those two Atlanta-region counties, with 5,681 per 100,000 – despite NYC’s rough, rough start. NYC and SF also share the distinction of being among the most densely-populated urban centers in the US. Cities like Atlanta and Los Angeles tend to sprawl, and I’m quite confident that they had far lower rates of public-transit ridership than either SF or NYC, even before covid.
I don’t want to turn this into a public-health treatise, so I’ll stop there. My goal is to share photos which highlight some of the personal behaviors and public rules which have helped keep infection rates comparatively low in SF. If we close off our ability to study and learn, even from those with whom we see ourselves as quite different, then our ability to adapt really will freeze and that will spell trouble. I was in SF for most of a week at the end of January, just as the city was reopening its outdoor-dining options, as well as personal-grooming facilities like the barbershop which you’ll see below. (Note that everyone is lining up on the sidewalk outside, not waiting indoors and sharing air with each other.) I don’t think anyone in California has eaten an indoor restaurant meal since last March – or at least, not anyone following the public-health rules. But at least now we can meet our friends for outdoor dining again, and we are. I know this is currently impossible in places with harder winters, and that fact forces more difficult choices for individuals, businesses, and public-policy-makers. There again, I’d look to the attitude we’ve mostly adopted in the bay area: we’re all in this together, and we all need to help protect each other and the most vulnerable among us.
A few comments about the photos: I was happy to see that the playground at Mission Dolores Park, at the very top, was open for kids to play in – I’m not sure whether or not it was closed during the heavier restrictions, but it’s nice to see kids playing and to hear their shouts of delight. Here in Santa Rosa, most playgrounds I’ve seen have been officially closed, which makes me quite sad. SFPL is doing what our SoCo library is doing: reserve your items online, and do a touchless pickup and / or return. Returned materials are then quarantined for a few days. You’ll also see a touchless coffee pickup table for the mobile coffee truck in Alamo Square Park.
Each of us resonates particularly to some kinds of beauty more than others. I’m naturally drawn more to wilderness and natural areas than to cities, as you can probably tell by all the natural-world photos that occupy these pages. But I do find the combination of hills and abundant water, with densely-packed urban centers featuring tall buildings and dramatic bridges, interesting architectural features and urban parks quite compelling. San Francisco has all of the above in abundance. Now that each of my assignments begins and ends with flights from and to SFO — now that each trip back to my own home involves crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and seeing many of the views you see here — I find myself collecting photos two or four at a time, whenever I visit the city for a concert or lunch with a friend or just a trip to or from the airport. This post is full of my miscellaneous photos taken in such trips over the past year or so. As I prepare to head out for another assignment far away, some photos of my home region to enjoy while I’m away. 🙂 If you’re curious what’s shown in any of the photos, by and large they will have names that are descriptive.