I Left My Heart in San Francisco
I Left My Heart in San Francisco
Sharing San Francisco Treats

Quaint but lacking (sorry!)

  • Apr 29, 2009
  • by
I lived in San Francisco for 18 months and have had a mixed experience. The hills and the views are memorable, and areas such as Golden Gate Park really rival Central Park. Obviously if you like Asian foods then SF is a foodie Mecca, and there are little pockets of great things scattered around that can take some time to find.

Public transport is not really as all-encompassing and integrated as many locals would have you believe. The ferry is phenomenally expensive, buses and BART and Muni don't always connect in an obvious way (or at all), and compared to New York, the public transit is really not particularly well thought out. Yet compared to LA, the public system looks to be a wonder of the modern world.

The parking does indeed suck in San Francisco, and I've dropped $30 so many times to leave my car for a few hours. It's a shame the city isn't more responsive to business requests to rethink this policy, especially given the difficult economic times. I showed my brother the Ferry Building when he visited last and I fed a meter $6 in quarters for 75 minutes. Essentially, this makes my patronage of local business contingent on my having vast quantities of quarters available.

Traffic is another gripe - there really aren't that many cars in San Francisco, but the out-of-phase lights and bizarre road systems give the impression that it's one mass of gridlock. Essentially, to get from Golden Gate to the highway, you have to go down two major streets (Lombard and Van Ness) - for a magical hour each day, the lights are all green and it take 10 minutes; the rest of the time, it can take an hour, just because you hit red lights every block.

At the risk of getting hate-mail, my major, major moan about San Francisco is flakiness among people. At first, I thought it was me being overzealous by showing up to agreed meetings on time, but I came to hear this from other people too (the unflaky ones). It's legendarily difficult to get people to stick to arrangements - plans are made and then just, well, nothing happens. No phone calls, no emails, no Tweets - just absence and then some excuse-laden note appears six weeks later blaming an unspecified virus or death of distant friend-of-a-friend's neighbor's dog.

Passive-aggressiveness is something I'm really not adjusted to, either. In New York, people were very direct: if you pissed someone off, you'd be greeted with an appropriate response, but not here. My best example of this was from my neighbor who accused me of driving into her car while I was on vacation. Instead of simply making the accusation, a Pinter-esque discussion of "Let's look at 'the cars'/I'm just gathering some facts/It must have been dark when you left" left me feeling almost dizzy from the basic fact that I was 5,000 miles away. I naturally responded like any New Yorker would have: "**** you!".

I've had a good time in San Francisco, and it's great to be able to move around and see different places. But I wouldn't want to stay here forever, and now the job market is so desperately in the toilet, I expect I'll move when my apartment lease is up. The cost of living makes it so incredibly hard too, and now paycuts are de rigeur, the idea of raising a family in some $600,000 shoebox just doesn't seem likely (or even desirable). I'll never understand how property got to these insane levels here, but my wife and I could work to be 1,000 and still be renting (which is also outrageous).

On the upside, I have enjoyed Alcatraz, the sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf, the Ferry Building, scooting around Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach, the games at the Ball Park and the chance to prove that hills really do kick my ass and I need to get down the gym.

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February 03, 2010
ha - fun review, and a refreshing take from the standard lovefest you usually see about this town. interesting points. I was raised in the midwest, but have made soCal my home, and LOVE nyc - so I'm coming to this w/ that perspective. do a lot of biz trips there and recently fell head of heels for the ferry building ; )
February 03, 2010
Thanks Melissa! The Ferry Building is one of my favorites too - I used to cycle up there for a coffee every morning when I was living in SOMA. I loved NYC too but after a couple of years living there, we needed more space and didn't have a spare million dollars! I'm waiting for the hate mail on these reviews since I've blasphemed against the Holy Trinity of Apple, San Francisco and Obama...
February 03, 2010
you really are living dangerously ; ) that's hilarious... those really are the trinity of west coast liberals (myself included, lol). it's all constructive though, so I'll take it in stride. on NYC - i've always said I adore it, but could never live there... actually, there are two lists I should make - reasons I love NY and reasons I'd never live there!
More San Francisco reviews
review by . December 15, 2008
While I give it a high rating I must say that SF is still growing on me. I have lived in New York (Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island), Georgia (Atlanta) and Ohio (Columbus/Mt. Vernon) and have traveled all over the country for work and yet I am still not fully solid on SF.    The things that I like include public transport and the wide variety of cuisine. I love being able to walk around the city and feel as if nothing is really "too" far from each other...after all its only 7X7. …
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The City and County of San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the 14th most populous city in the United States, with a 2007 estimated population of 764,976. Among the most densely populated cities in the country, San Francisco is part of the San Francisco Bay Area, which is home to more than 7.1 million people. The city is located at the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean to the west, San Francisco Bay to the east, and the Golden Gate to the north.

In 1776, the Spanish settled the tip of the peninsula, establishing a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named for Francis of Assisi. The California Gold Rush in 1848 propelled the city into a period of rapid growth, transforming it into the largest city on the West Coast at the time. After being devastated by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. During World War II, San Francisco was the send-off point for many soldiers to the Pacific Theater. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, and other factors gave rise to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a liberal bastion in the United States.

San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination famous for its landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, the cable cars, Coit Tower, and Chinatown, its steep rolling...

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