Dean Clough

August 5, 2022

Portico Darwin: Historically Good


Last Friday, it was a history of concerts - at least my own.  

Today, I'm going to share some different history, yet keep the focus on my favorite subject:  myself (shocker).   Because I've found some great historical photos of my beloved SF, and specifically, our own neighborhood here, The Marina District.

Sounds exciting, I know, but you might be surprised.  

(Look:  it's either this or another post on how Trump et. al. must be indicted and that Republicans have to start acting like Republicans again.)

In The Beginning
After the massive 1906 earthquake, the rubble from the devastation was used to fill in the swamp below Cow Hollow, upon which the Pan Pacific International Exhibition (PPIE) was held in 1915.   Ostensibly held to celebrate America's opening of The Panama Canal and the Pacific Coast access it greatly improved, it was equally a celebration of SF's rebirth, 9 years after its complete destruction.

Here is an artist's rendering . . .

. . . and the real thing.
PPIE Real.jpg


As you look at the photos, it's useful to note the location of the Palace of Fine Arts, built for the PPIE, as it was the only structure retained afterwards.  Here it is, in a photo during the fair from 1915; its dome and lagoon are visible in many of the photos here.

After the Pan Pacific International Exhibition ended on December 4, 1915, the land was cleared, and it became today's Marina District.  The Presidio, a US Army Base until 1994, is to the west of The Marina District and Palace of Fine Arts.  In the second photo, the Golden Gate is still bridgeless.
After PPIE.jpg

Marina District 1920.jpg

Some Context
Here is the Marina District, fully built-out by the time this photo was taken in 1959.
Marina 1959.jpg

And here's an aerial view, from a bit earlier, in 1948, annotated with critical information.
Marina Aerial 2 1948.jpg

Only The Best People (Non-Trump Edition)
The Marina was middle class, but it did attract one particular celebrity, an SF native.
JD Marina.jpg

JD Marina Street.jpg

For the record, our street looks very much the same today, 70+ years later.

(In 1992, when we moved down the block from his house on Beach Street, Joe DiMaggio was still very much alive, and we saw him in-person and close-up on at least two occasions, outside his home.  We would look him in the eye and say "Hello, Mr. DiMaggio."  JFC, not a syllable more.  I think once he looked in our direction and grunted, but that was enough - I still get chills thinking about it.  We are talking JOE FREAKING DIMAGGIO.  In fact, I went as far as reading the interesting and entertaining book, "Dinner With DiMaggio" in order to feel just a bit closer to The Yankee Clipper.)   

Shit Happens
Indeed, Mr. DiMaggio was right here during my to-be neighborhood's worst moment:  the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and its aftermath.  We moved in to the building in the lower left corner of this photo, in April of 1992 (after it had been placed back on its foundation and had undergone a seismic retrofit), and Mr. DiMaggio's place turned out to be four doors up.  The photos that follow are of our street in the temblor's aftermath.  Recall that The Marina District was built on landfill.
Our Hood - '89.jpeg

Marina October 1989.jpg

Marina October 1989 2.jpg

But We're Still Here
Indeed, our building (including its roof) survived and dare I say, thrived.  As has The Marina. 



When Dick Cheney and I agree 100%, it's news.  Big news.  So please please please watch this.

Dick Cheney Echoes Portico Darwin

If the subject is SF, one act must rise to the top of the playlist.  Here, on a concert considered among their best (which is of course saying something), are The Grateful Dead, live at SF's Great American Music Hall, on August 13, 1975



There's just nothing like hearing SF adopted son Bill Graham do the intro to kick off this insane jam of a concert.  And think about it:  this show and this recording was chosen among all others by The Grateful Dead themselves to be the very first release from their massive "vault" of band-recorded shows.  

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