Heron’s Head Park sits near the southeastern edge of San Francisco. You can see downtown’s skyscrapers in the distance, but they truly feel worlds away. The 24-acre-park is home to salt marshes and a small ecological center with a living roof and sustainable water system. It used to be Pier 89, and remnants of its former life scatter the park grounds. But despite the hulking cranes, stacked box cars and strips of industrial landscape that sandwich it on either side, the Heron’s Head has the fresh smell of California’s coastland. Gulls and ducks and, of course, herons linger in the water. The winding sandy paths feel desolate and beautiful all at once.
I spent last night skulking around my sleepy neighborhood. Aside from the recycling scavengers, there were few folks on the street. Cars were even rare on busy Dolores. But the views were still perfect on what was a cloudy but clear SF night.
Snapped the photo above after taking a walking tour of my neighborhood with SF City Guides. I’ve lived in Noe Valley for less than a year, but I’ve been coming to visit for almost a decade and figured it was time to learn about the truth behind its many charms.
Once again, I am part of a gentrifying sweep, moving an old working-class neighborhood with an appealing low skyline into the ranks of the less affordable. This reminds me of my old Brooklyn neighborhood, Cobble Hill; so do all the cute boutiques, eateries and baby strollers.
But … It was great to have my eyes opened to all the architectural details they would normally gloss over. And now I can proudly distinguish a Stick House from a Queen Anne or an Edwardian. One sad note is that Nelly Street was once Orient Street, but they changed the name during World War II. People are silly, aren’t they? But whoever Nelly was, I am sure she was happy to get her own street.
Tours by SF City Guides are free and happening all the time, all around the city (schedule). And you can catch the latest buzz about lovely Noe Valley on this fun local blog, noevalleysf.blogspot.com.