June 28, 2007
Looking for Bargains Around One Million Dollars?
Here's what we found for right around $1 million. Three bed, Three bath, 1973 sq ft. That's $532.13 per sq. ft. Views and centrally located. Oh yeah, and it is in Chicago.
Curious about all the talk of Chicago being a real estate paradise sent us searching. What did we find? Well for one, while we appreciate the DIY attitude of Chicago agents, professional photography...or any photography at all might help push some more units – and a little staging couldn't hurt sometimes either. The unit pictured may have actually been the only listing that we found with professional pics. Other things of note:
purple/mauve seems to be a very popular decoration/paint color in the midwest, and spartan furnishings seem to be a way of life. [Editor's Note: A plugged-in reader assures us that this is not true.]
Overall, our poorly informed opinion is that San Francisco has much more attractive (world class?) but smaller and more expensive housing stock than Chicago (you could find 2000 sq. ft. for under $500k)...but we probably already knew that. Next search for real estate paradise takes us to...Portland (which locals insist is a world class city)!
[Another Editor's Note: I think we can all agree that both San Francisco and Chicago are fantastic cities that are recognized around the world for being so. Let's move on now and get our humor back.]
∙ Listing: 201 W Grand Ave #502 (3/3) - $1,049,900 (Chicago) [ZipRealty]
First Published: June 28, 2007 4:25 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Forget Portland. Look further down east, somewhere in China, how about? For $450 psf, you can get some of the best condos there, and not something that looks like the Wurster Hall of Berkeley.
(Did we just get some new staff on socketsite? It kinda feels like it.)
[Editor's note: There will be some guest-editing during the next few weeks (see Summer Hours posting). The Socketsite staff is hoping to spend at least a few hours of the Summer not thinking about San Francisco real estate. Thanks for your patience.]
Posted by: blahhh at June 28, 2007 5:13 PM
RE Staging: I know what you mean when you see un-staged properties after seeing almost nothing but in San Francisco, it seems like "I can't decide if I like what I am seeing - ah!"
Actually, I would love a history lesson from a real estate veteran.
When did staging start? I remember new "model homes" and the interior design "showcase homes", but I do not remember staging for the average house 10 years ago.
Did it originally only happen to really expensive properties, like above $500-SF in 1995, and then, by golly, all properties in SF suddenly qualified as real expensive?
I can be so hypnotised and gob-smacked by the awe-inspiring perfection of some staged spaces that I carry around a crib sheet to bring me back to earth:
Where does the cat litter box go?
Where does the vacuum, broom, mop go?
Where do the re-cycling containers go?
Where do 250 linear feet of books go?
If the answer to 3 out of 4 above is "the master bedroom closet" it is time to move on.
Ah yes, but we do no where 90-percent of the world's production of white barcelona chairs is.
Posted by: redseca2 at June 28, 2007 5:49 PM
More Chicago envy! Yay!
Posted by: anon at June 28, 2007 7:33 PM
250 linear feet of books? Read a book then pass it forward. Or turn them all backwards on a shelf, paint them all taupe and use as staging.
Posted by: kathleen at June 28, 2007 7:57 PM
I grew up in Chicago and you are oh so very wrong.
Chicago may have its problems, every place does, but it is world class in architecture, and San Francisco is. NOT.
Architecture and staging are not the same thing! Indeed, how crass to get the 2 confused.
Posted by: dissent at June 28, 2007 8:27 PM
Staging has really begun to bother me also. I would rather see a home that people actually live in. I recently viewed a condo with a friend who is in the market, and it was so nice to see a victorian flat that did not look like a Room and Board catalogue. There was food in the fridge and even a magnet on the outside holding a small prayer that could be Sufi. I think what is funny is when people show up to actually do the final walk through after all of the staging has been removed.
Posted by: anom at June 28, 2007 8:29 PM
I think that a better view of Chicago real estate would be some of the new developements including the Shangri-La, 340-On-The-Park, the new towers at Lake Shore East , etc. www.lakeshoreeast.com
My other place I would have looked would have been some of the victorian homes in areas like Lincoln Park and Wicker Park. (For 900,000 you can get a Noe Valley style Victorian with garage) There are a lot of neighborhoods in Chicago that have similar density patterns and architectural characteristics except for the victorians are made there with stone and brick instead of wood.
As for "world class" design. Ummm, Frank Lloyd Wright, Meis, Sullivan, first skyscraper, first steel and glass residential tower, tallest buildings in the world for their day, etc. I think the design score card tilts towards Chicago.
Posted by: anon at June 28, 2007 8:42 PM
The Chicago envy continues to build...yay!
Vancouver envy - anyone? anyone? C'mon! I know you're out there! At least the weather doesn't duck in Vancouver!
Posted by: anon at June 28, 2007 8:47 PM
Architecture is great stuff, sure. But no amount of great architecture can change weather. If I can only enjoy the architecture seven or eight months of the year without horrendous weather, why should I pay more than 50-60% as much as here? These prices seem about right, considering the immense amount of negatives of the location.
Posted by: anon at June 28, 2007 8:51 PM
Other than weather, what other negatives are you referring too?
Posted by: anon at June 28, 2007 9:19 PM
I hear Chicago politics are frustrating ... but that's just a few Chicagoans opinions. Go Barack Obama!! :)
Posted by: Jamie at June 28, 2007 9:41 PM
Not being able to enjoy myself outside 4-5 months of the year is a big enough negative for me, but access to other activities that I enjoy are also huge (kicking it at the ocean, ski resorts, hiking areas, wine tasting, surfing) That's just me though.
Posted by: anon at June 28, 2007 9:57 PM
Once you hit Portland head up just a little further north and head up to Vancouver... they even name buildings after design heros there, check out the Jacobsen building - http://www.jacobsenliving.ca
Love the chair, love the building!
Posted by: Observer at June 28, 2007 10:44 PM
Don't forget Austin!
Here's a steal near the lake for $849k.
Posted by: Ryan at June 28, 2007 11:51 PM
I'm moving to Chicago! Nice place.
Posted by: eddy at June 29, 2007 12:20 AM
Yes, the weather may be "bad" there for half the year (although I like Winter myself), at least they are able to have a Summer. I noticed when looking down from the Hancock Observation Deck that most of their condo buildings have outdoor rooftop swimming pools and sun decks! Not just the super-luxury buildings, but almost all of them. We were staying at the Ritz Carlton which also has condos, and the one bedrooms I saw listed in the "Carlton Club" gym which the hotel shared with the residents were about 600,000 while the 2bd. were about 900,000. They had an outdoor and indoor pool, deeded parking, doorman, and were across from Water Tower Place and the Museum of Modern Art. Count me as part of the Chicago Envy Society.
Posted by: anon at June 29, 2007 4:21 AM
Don't forget about the 150 story Fordham Spire. I still cannot believe it. 150 stories! If you go to the Chicago AIA website, there are currently over 80 residential towers over 30 stories under construction in that city. I would call that a building BOOM!
Posted by: Sergio at June 29, 2007 7:23 AM
The number of members of the "Chicago Envy Society" seems quite large! I wonder why more of you don't move there? Of course, if that were to happen, we'd probably see a large rise in price...
Question to the Chicago boosters - if prices were close to the same (say within 10% of each other) would you still be salivating over the windy city? Just curious...
Posted by: anon at June 29, 2007 8:39 AM
Re the summer comment - cross the Bay in the summer. Then you can enjoy summer if you're into the hot weather. That's one of the huge pluses here, IMO - the many micro-climates that exist that you can't find in an extreme season place (Cold, brutal winters, nice springs and falls, scorching summers) like Chicago.
Posted by: anom at June 29, 2007 8:43 AM
I grweq up in Chicago and moved out here because my Fathers job required him to pack it up and head west.
I'd love to move back, but I'm already established here and don't think my current gf would be in favor of it. Different priorties I guess.
The weather doesn't bother me nearly as much as the traffic. Traffic out there is horrible. We deal with the bridges out here...even with FastTrak...but I still think the Dan Ryan is under construction, since I was born.
I love Chicago's skyline and historical buildings more so than SFs. I'll probably live longer if I stay in SF though, I'd eat myself to death in the Chi.
Posted by: Joe at June 29, 2007 9:35 AM
Re: "Curious about all the talk of Chicago being a real estate paradise sent us searching. What did we find? Well for one, while we appreciate the DIY attitude of Chicago agents, professional photography...or any photography at all might help push some more units – and a little staging couldn't hurt sometimes either. The unit pictured may have actually been the only listing that we found with professional pics. Other things of note: purple/mauve seems to be a very popular decoration/paint color in the midwest, and spartan furnishings seem to be a way of life."
I'm a transplanted Chicago agent with a fairly successful career in Chicago. Purple is not a "favorite" paint color and spartan furnishings are not the "way of life". MLS listings typically do not include "professional" photos and properties sell just fine without them. In fact, I would recommend to my cients not to waste the money. RE is competitive for both buyer and seller. Sellers need to "prep" their property, which can include staging, as elaborate as appropriate. Buyers should look at everything that fits their criteria (usually price, number of BRs & BTHs, and neighborhood). If a buyer neglects a property because the MLS listing is not elaborate, or the MLS information incomplete (often square footage is not listed), they do so at their own peril. Almost always, another buyer is looking!
There is more computing power in two eyes than the most powerful computer.
Posted by: Cary at June 29, 2007 10:19 AM
I'm a Chicago transplant that's now living in San Francisco. Regarding the comment that SF housing stock has much more attractive housing stock --- are you smoking crack?
I've lived in beautiful houses and buildings in chicago - precast concrete townhomes in Bucktown, Old Town, and glorious Brownstones in Lincoln Park. I've worked in the Sears Tower, the IBM building by the river, etc.... all examples of glorious architecture.
That said, moving to SF has been a lifelong dream. I've always been enamored of the diversity, weather, and food of SF, as well as the diverse economic engine of the Bay Area (Chicago is all finance, professional services, and broad shoulders - not so much high tech).
However, when it comes to quality of housing stock - SF is definitely in 2nd place. There's just so much more high quality housing in Chicago that its beyond comparison - however, that's why SF real estate is so expensive - there just isn't any high quality housing stock at reasonable prices.
Posted by: Chicago-and-SF at June 29, 2007 10:33 AM
I agree with Chicago-and-SF in that I love San Francisco and also chose to move here, BUT, this city does not offer the housing choices due to the decades of little construction of housing. We praise buildings like OneRincon as if they are remarkable luxury towers of great design, when in reality they are rather ordinary high rise towers in a city like Chicago and would not cost nearly as much to live in. So what does someone have to do to sell a high rise project in Chicago? They have to build a great design that is unique with things such as parking, gym, swimming pools, a.c. , washer and dryers, etc. as STANDARD items, not "luxury" items.
Posted by: Sergio at June 29, 2007 11:03 AM
That's about exactly what I paid, with full upgrades, for my 2-2 1240 sq ft. place at ORH on a high floor.
Clearly a housing dollar goes much further in Chicago if you don't care at all about the ridiculously cold and, say might even say, "painful", winters. Not to mention the sticky, muggy summers and the insane traffic that you get there.
I'm quite happy as a resident of SF, even if I am only getting 63% of the square footage for pretty much the exact amount of money.
Posted by: RinconHill_Res at June 29, 2007 11:21 AM
Having relocated from San Francisco to Chicago two years ago and owned a condo in both, I would say that good points have been made about both cities. The Chicago weather can be challenging at times, but you can actually have a middle-class salary and own a really decent place in Chicago.
So far, though, no one has mentioned that Chicago has many decent neighborhoods that are easily accessible via public transportation (no car needed). If you don't live right downtown or in a truly exclusive pocket, there are plenty of high-quality condos (new and gut-rehabbed) in the city that can be purchased for much, much less than the million dollar mark. I found that on average, one can get twice as much (size and quality) for half the price in Chicago (perhaps excluding luxury high-rise projects). In 2005, I purchased a newly gut-rehabbed, top-floor, 1600 SF condo (2 BR+ 2BA + Den) with garage for less than $390K in a neighborhood that feels about the same as what I was leaving (the Mission), although much cleaner and better maintained.
This is not to say that I don't still miss and love San Francisco, but for me I just was over feeling that I had to compromise or worry about paying for quality housing. And I can now afford to travel to San Francisco and eat in restaurants that I couldn't afford when I owned a condo there. I realize that this isn't an issue if you make significant money, but I wanted to offer another perspective (beyond the million dollar comparison) for why some folks might decide Chicago over San Francisco.
On a final note: the constant development in Chicago is amazing; if you love walking around and just admiring classic buildings and new construction, this is a great place to visit and/or live.
Posted by: JD at June 29, 2007 11:32 AM
Off Topic - Sorry in advance...
You mentioned that you purchased your Chicago condo in a neighborhood that feels about the same as the Mission in SF. If you don't mind me asking, what neighborhood is this? I'm asking as a current Mission resident relocating to Chicago.
Posted by: JS at June 29, 2007 11:44 AM
Everyone keeps bringing up the "lack of deeded parking" in luxury buildings in SF. Enough already! That isn't for the developers to decide. The City has limited the amount of parking - developers would build more if they could. The fact that places are STILL selling without deeded parking shows that not everyone feels "ripped off" buying a place without deeded parking. Parking isn't something that developers can just "offer" - it's something that has a severely negative effect on the city-at-large and other residents in the neighborhood, hence the limits.
Posted by: anon at June 29, 2007 11:45 AM
"On a final note: the constant development in Chicago is amazing; if you love walking around and just admiring classic buildings and new construction, this is a great place to visit and/or live."
Don't get me wrong, Chicago is a beautiful city. In fact, my firm has an office there which I just visited about 2 weeks ago and it was great.
However, I once heard a comedian artfully sum up what I think of Chicago in terms of ever wanting to be a permanent resident there:
"Don't you miss the winters? No, strangely enough I don't. Just like I don't miss a car door slamming on my hand."
Posted by: RinconHill_Res at June 29, 2007 12:13 PM
I do still think the people that discount the weather factor as being one reason to want to pay more to live here, as opposed to Chicago. Weather has always been my number one reason to want to or not want to live somewhere - architecture? It's not even in the top 5. It's one of those "nice if it's there" things for me.
Posted by: anon at June 29, 2007 12:24 PM
Socketsite is definitely smoking crack when they say that SF has "more attractive" housing! We have such LOW standards of design here that it is frustrating for me. From world-class towers to beautiful brownstones, plus modern "brownstones" that fit in amazingly, Chicago is the bomb. And those of you who are trying to justify SF's high prices BECAUSE we don't have high quality stock - ??? - you're smoking MORE crack if your mind actually works that way! I can't even comprehend that rational!
Then, there is the weather conditions that all of you seem so opposed to? Not only do most large cities of the WORLD have cold winters and humid summers, but since when is SF's climate enviable? Mark Twain comment? The gloominess that has been most of this summer? The impossibly cold beaches and ocean? I lived in San Jose for a bit, and THAT is a great climate, but we're talking about the City on this site, and I for one could use a warm summer and would bundle up for a winter if needed (not that I don't have to start bundling up EVERYDAY at 3pm anyway). Certainly no justification of outrageous housing prices.
What's this traffic in Chicago? I get off the plane and jump on the subway into the city in minutes(and have been doing that for about 20 years more than SF has had the BART to SFO). Plus, my friends have lived in Boystown and now Wicker Park and all I do is walk out the door and down the street to cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, the train, etc. It's SO easy- so much easier than SF! My best friend jumps into a taxi from her Michigan Ave. office and is home in 5 minutes every night. AND her firm pays for that taxi every night.
Politics - don't even get me started! Chicago DOES what SF only talks about for decades! It spends it's money SO well (like, what the hell is that 5 block "boulevard" on Octavia that cost millions, took decades, adds nothing to the city, and only causes more confusion and accidents). In the time that Octavia's 5 blocks were destroyed, Chicago had built Millennium Park! And WE'RE suppose to be the environmentally conscious Californians? Yet, Chicago's city hall roof is green, it's converted so much land back to prairie grasses (and we've accomplished that small acre called Chrissy Field), Millennium Park is totally progressive, other parks are great (anyone willing to SIT on Washington Sq. without a bio-suit?), Miggs Field was converted back to park in HOURS...
Lastly, staging is a scam that was thought up in the late 90's to justify adding another $100k+ to the sales price (cuz what's a $100k?!?). It worked for someone and just caught on from there. Of course, model homes have for years been staged, but that was to give potential buyers an idea of what the home would look like with furniture, since new construction wouldn't have furniture to begin with. What people do here is just try to trick buyers into seeing a better quality home than it actually is. My friends in Chicago didn't need to stage or see staging because their homes are well built. This example of Chicago architecture is a great example, but even more can be found for the same s.f. and half that price.
[Editor's Note: rg, we weren't smoking crack we were just pushing buttons because we think the SF vs Chicago argument is silly, both cities are fantastic and have great places to live.]
Posted by: rg at June 29, 2007 12:36 PM
rg, how much is the city of Chicago paying you?
Posted by: anon at June 29, 2007 12:41 PM
People, as the post says, let's move on from this Chicago is better! No! SF is better! No! Chicago has neato buildings! No! SF has better weather! No! Chicago is cheaper!
Please. Chicago and SF are both nice for different reasons. Clearly, the market has placed a premium on Sf real estate, primarily because there is less of it, and the surrounding areas also have ridiculous real estate prices. The same cannot be said of Chicago.
Now, Portland or Vancouver, anyone?
Posted by: anon at June 29, 2007 12:48 PM
I know a question was asked of JD about what neighborhood is similar to the Mission in Chicago, and I am not sure what he will answer, but I have friends who live in the Andersonville neighborhood that reminds me a lot of the Mission. It is Latino, Gay, Straight, and loaded with artists and underground galleries, theaters and interesting restaurants, but it has not yet caught on with the wealthy Lincoln Park crowd. I would like to second RG's comment regarding Octavia and what a big deal is made about it. Other cities do Octavia type projects all the time without patting eachother on the back as having done something "extraordinary".
Posted by: Morgan at June 29, 2007 12:49 PM
I bought my condo in SF years ago, so real estate costs aren't a factor when I compare the two cities. But every time I visit Chicago, it makes me want to weep: the streets are spotlessly clean, there are trees and flower-pots everywhere, the parks are beautifully maintained, the homeless are few and far-between, and the transit system is reliable. In a nutshell, Chicago is a city that *works*. SF should only be so lucky.
Posted by: zzzzzzz at June 29, 2007 1:32 PM
What's interesting to me, being a "transplant" here in SF bay area since 1990, is that there is a sense here of how great the Bay Area is compared to other places in the world.. whether this is the sentiment of the natives, or of others who moved here (transplants), I don't know.. but I can tell you that in the other cities I have lived in (ie NYC, etc), people there don't even think about SF. NYC folks may compare themselves with London or Paris, but SF, not even on the radar. They may think of SF as a beautiful place to visit, etc but as far as world class or anything like that, sorry folks, doesn't register. (Now if you are talking about a specific topic, ie LBTG, etc they may rank SF as number one in openness, etc but no, for financial, fashion, just life, uh no.). In fact, NYC is more likely to think of LA (sorry folks again) than they do of SF. My biggest shock when I moved here was how people just don't talk about LA -- unless there is a fire or something disastrous down there, I was more likely to get news of what happened in LA when I was in NY then I would here is SF. I guess SF is more likely compared to Boston -- pleasant, medium size city, etc..
I'm sure this blog wouldn't even exist in Chicago... I'm sure they are not even fretting whether their architecture is considered world class or more beautiful than x city.
Ironically, SF is more likely to get struck with an earthquake than most other places and most of this beautiful architecture will be lost and hey, in the rush to rebuild (just so people have a roof over their heads), we may end up with that communist block look!! Oh horror.
And I agree with some other posters that the most obnoxious tagline was that CBS news with the best place to live on earth. Give me a break!
Try Denmark, heard life is pretty good there. Or Norway, miserable winters, but everyone has food, literacy, and mothers actually get time off when they have children!
Point is, every place has its good and bad points, some more good than others, but the smug, pat on the back is sooo annoying.
Posted by: transplant at June 29, 2007 2:37 PM
"In a nutshell, Chicago is a city that *works*. SF should only be so lucky." - zzzzzzz
Can't agree with you more. Having lived in both cities there is no comparison. The EL outperforms the excuse that is MUNI; not to mention the cleanliness of the streets. Would I move back to Chicago? - probably not. I'll miss the outdoors too much. But I do miss my 3bd/2ba Brownstone condo with roofdeck in Wicker Park; especially this time of the month when my SF mortgage is due.
Posted by: a-non-imus at June 29, 2007 2:51 PM
I grew up in Vancouver until post-grad, and now live in SF for the past 9 years. I initially loved SF, but those rosy feelings are pretty much over. It's probably a "world-class" city (whatever that means), but I've come to the realization that the chronic homeless problems will NEVER change given the politics of this city. I have so little respect for our mayor and supervisors. Vancouver has the same diversity of culture, dining choices, nature and LGBT communities. Plus it's cleaner and gay marriage is already a reality in Canada. I go back at least twice a year, and would love move back at some point.
Posted by: etslee at June 29, 2007 2:55 PM
I'm gonna quote San Francisco's second patron saint, Herb Caen:
"Isn't it nice that people who prefer Los Angeles to San Francisco live there?"
I think we pretty much feel this way about any other city. Chicago? NYC? Boston? Big deal, bub. Nice towns, all, I'm sure, but give me the City.
One more quote from Herb:
"I'm going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to Heaven. I'll look around and say, 'It's not bad, but it ain't San Francisco.'"
Annoying, ain't it? I love it.
Posted by: NativeSon at June 29, 2007 4:00 PM
Are the guest editors related to SFnewsletter at all? This topic seems very similar.
[Editor's note: No]
Posted by: eddy at June 29, 2007 4:38 PM
I love the chicago-SF debate....
I will actually be moving to Chicago in early 08, largely due the unaffordability of SF. I'm consultant with a great job but unwilling to spend $1m for a nice neighborhood AND a washer/dryer in the unit.
I bought a new construction place in a boutique condo building (12 units) in Wicker Park (think russian hill) that has the amenities that would cost me 3x the amount in SF. The quality and availability of these places simply do not exist in SF.
One thing that i will miss about SF is the getting the real estate scoop on socketsite. The Chicago version is seriously lacking... www.yochicago.com
What's it going to take to expand socketsite to another city!!!
Posted by: Moving to Chicago at June 29, 2007 4:58 PM
I wish that Chicago was paying me! Mostly, I'm just LONG over my love affair with SF. I find it horrible that our mayor spends more time bonking his assistants then fixing our problems, that residents (who are suppose to be so well educated and cultured) have such horrible taste and low standards, and that this city is building such UGLY buildings!!! More than anything, though, I find it sad that we've allowed housing to get so expensive. I would hope that even the 56% of you who own that average $1.2 million house would admit (even if to your own $$$ loss) that having a city where only 12% of the population can afford a median home is pathetic. I'd wish that your well-educated minds would admit that having to spend upwards of 70% of your income on a home is ill-advised and stupid. I would pray that those of you who are parents would want your children to not only grow up in a better city, but grow up to be able to afford a median home here (because God knows that no one graduating college right now will be able to afford that average $850k home). I dream that you would care, even a little, that the average person sitting next to you can't afford to buy. It saddens and baffles me. Housing is not a luxury or a get rich quick scheme. I was raised to believe that shelter was a NEED, not a WANT. Why are you people asking for neighborhoods similar to the Mission? So that you can gentrify them like you did our Mission? (not personal, JS) Do you know that 18.6% of Hispanics in SF live in poverty, yet, this housing market has elevated Mission housing to the same prices as the rest of the city? Do you know that only 10% of residents make over 200k, even though half of you reading this do? Do you know that 20% of SF residents make under 25k/year and another 20% make between 25k & 50k? Those people can't even DREAM of owning a home or condo. I once thought that California was about dreaming, healthy living, activism and personal freedoms, Cesar Chavez marches and landladies who gave you pot. But I realize now that all it's about is greed. You toss around your "my home appreciated $400k in the last 6 months" like it's a badge of honor, while you walk over homeless people! San Francisco residents who "go to Heaven" NativeSon? Nah, I don't think any of you are going to get that chance.
Posted by: rg at June 29, 2007 5:40 PM
What the bay area has that Chicago doesn't is opportunity for very smart people. If you can take advantage of that opportunity, there really isn't any other place.
If you can't take advantage of it, staying here is a complete waste of time. And Chicago is a very nice city that provides a very high quality of life for people who don't have high opportunities.
The comments about how pretty Chicago and SF are are interesting. Chicago is undeniably very pretty. I get the impression that significant effort is made in Chicago, whereas SF mostly has just ridden the coattails of its natural beauty of for years. So all of mission bay goes up boxy and uninteresting because no one cares any more. They haven't for years.
What struck me about these discussions is how much of my view of SF was really formed in the late 70's when I first got here. I think of it now, because I formed my impression of the city then and have really stopped looking very hard: my first impression is just ingrained in my mind and I don't really pay attention any more.
But these posts have made me look again. And in the last two weeks, I've opened my eyes and I'm as shocked as some of those who have posted here. The city is dirty and the parts the tourists don't frequent but the residents do are generally ugly and in significant disrepair. And although it is not completely overrun by homeless any more, it still has more than its fair share.
As a result of an earlier discussion of how great 2nd street was, I walked it one evening from Townsend to Market. It isn't great: it's hideous.
If the posters posting about how great the city was opened their eyes and took a fresh look like I have, they'd be horrified. I think realistically, the only thing you can say about it is that it is better than San Jose, but I haven't been there in awhile either.
So in the end, what I would tell somebody in their 20s: if you can make a couple of million, stick around. If not, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, each have there share of problems, but provide a much better lifestyle overall to the vast majority of people making $50-90K per household (wife not working).
Posted by: tipster at June 29, 2007 6:07 PM
The building that is the "example" in this post is The Contemporaine. It's a boutique building in River North built maybe four or five years ago. There are only 26 units.
The building is considered one of the best examples of "modern" architecture built in Chicago in the last 25 years. It has been added to some of the architectural walking tours given by the Architecture Foundation.
For that reason, it is not considered your typical building so using it as a comparison is not really accurate. It sells for a higher per square foot price than, say, the building across the street at 200 W. Grand where you can get a 2 bedroom, 2 bath with all of the upgrades and parking for about $440,000 (1200 square feet or so.)
I too have lived in both cities. I concur with several of the posters who pointed out that the real difference between the two cities is that the "average" person making, say, $40,000 or $50,000 a year can actually aspire to own housing in Chicago (and not live in the ghetto either.) That is impossible in San Francisco (for a market rate unit.)
Chicago prices have gone up during the housing boom too. It's not as affordable as it was only five years ago. In 2002 you could get a 2 bedroom, 1 bath without parking for $135,000 in Edgewater. That same unit is selling for $235,000 today. Same with units in Rogers Park and Uptown.
But I just checked listings today and there are over 600 properties in Lakeview, what I would compare with Inner Richmond and Inner Sunset neighborhoods in terms of housing stock, that are currently for sale under $300,000. They're not all great but at least you're owning something. And you're in a safe neighborhood. You can even get a one bedroom condo for under $300,000 in Lincoln Park. Obviously, you can't say the say for Pac Heights, the Marina or Russian Hill (comparable neighborhoods.)
In Chicago, you can still get a vintage unit with Lake views for $229,000 (check out 3520 N. Lake Shore Drive) that was built in the 1920s- during the last great housing boom. Again, there is hope for the little guy in Chicago.
But even for the middle guy you are still better off. Say you make $100,000 a year. That loft that was posted a few days ago on this site located in South Park for around $900,000? (Which is obscene if you ask me as I saw a similar unit in that building 4 years ago and it was listed at $575,000- same square footage.)
You can get the same thing for $300,000 in River North, the West Loop or the South Loop (all comparable neighborhoods.) Life is just less stressful when you're paying less for housing. You have a great home, plenty of money left over and you can enjoy your city and take vacations. What's better than that?
I loved my time in San Francisco. I lived in North Beach (and had a parking spot) so it didn't get much better than that. But I rented for two years. My landlady bought the cottage house I was renting in 1997 for $320,000. She could easily sell it now for over a million. It was 550 square feet.
Posted by: sabrina at June 29, 2007 6:51 PM
Atlanta!?!?! You have got to be kidding, tipster. I can't think of a closer place to hell on this fair earth.
rg, you ask a lot of good questions. Now, consider one - SF is a very small city that is a part of a large metro area. Is it so wrong that not everyone can afford to live in "The City", when the city only holds 11% or so of the total metro population? Chicago proper holds more than 35% of it's metro area - isn't it much more likely that there would be more affordable ops within the actual city limits there?
I would love housing to be cheaper here, I would. But the fact that it isn't cheaper has nothing to do with us "allowing" it to get so expensive - it's simply a place that a LOT of people want to live and buy, and the city limits haven't expanded in over 50 years. Can the same be said for Chicago? Obviously not.
Posted by: Brutus at June 29, 2007 7:00 PM
I would like to comment on Tipsters post. I also have re-looked at San Francisco after reading this site for the last couple of months. When I had visiting friends from the U.K. staying with me recently and I was showing them around the city I was shocked when they didn't admire S.F. the way I did. Don't you think this city is like Europe I would ask, and the answer was "NO". They protested that it was the dirtiest city of their visit to North America! The worst thing was they actually liked Chicago and Miami best. Talk about making a Northern California hurt.
I think it was One Rincon that pushed me over to re-think my views of this "world class" city. One Rincon is a terribly ordinary building, but the Chronicle and others gush over it as if it is some towering wonder of the modern age. I think the 150 story Fordham Spire going up in Chicago would be more worthy of such press, and yet in Chicago they seem to have a "so what" attitude about that building. San Francisco is a great place, but maybe it would be better if we stopped telling everybody how great it is , and just start quietly working on fixing the problems we all know exist.
Posted by: Morgan at June 29, 2007 7:50 PM
Different experiences by all, I guess. I remember shortly out of college (about five years ago), I backpacked around South America for six months. Every time that I would mention to a European or Australian where I was from I would get "oohs and ahs" and a story about their vacation here and how much they loved it. I would mention that I went to school in LA and they would give me looks of disgust and complain to me about having to drive everywhere.
I don't think these anecdotal experiences mean a damn thing. If people really found SF to be that "dirty or disgusting" and Chicago to be that "perfect", prices for property and number of tourists would be reversed. They aren't. Why is that?
Posted by: Brutus at June 29, 2007 8:50 PM
Another Chicago native, living here for decades. Nicely ensconced in a beautiful and cheap home. Still I am nostalgic for Chicago, for the many reasons listed above. But, in my experience, it was not true that Chicagoans didn't fret about their city. We were called 'The 2nd City' for a reason. The first being New York. There was a silly focus on building the biggest: convention center, airport. What never changed was the high quality of construction and design, for the most part. Also, the dictatorship of the Daly's shows the importance of high quality governance. I think SF has had okay mayors, but our supervisors are a joke.
Posted by: dissent at June 30, 2007 10:17 AM
Brutus, you are comparing two different things. I don't think anyone is going to argue that SF has lots of tourist destinations. We have Alcatraz and the cable cars, and LA and Chicago doesn't, but those things really aren't benefiting the lives of many of the residents on a day to day basis. And the tourist destinations are very well maintained because the hoteliers scream their heads off to the city if they aren't.
And after a decade of watching hoardes of investors running from one "big thing" to the next (internet stocks, real estate on the coasts) I've learned never to place too much emphasis on prices in a bubble as a measure of true worth. It probably speaks to the sensibilities of midwesterners that they didn't start stupid internet companies OR overpay for houses on the basis that they always go up.
Which is probably another issue I have with SF: because there aren't many reasons for living here other than the opportunities, the opportunistic stay (I fully admit to being in this group), and the decent, level-headed people leave.
Every crazy scheme finds people to chase it, and that can frequently distort the market. For example, office space for real businesses became very expensive in the late 90s in SF, and made it very hard for real business people to survive because you had real businesses AND greedy idiots all competing for the same office space. Was office space in SF suddenly more desirable or did it just get expensive because of a gold rush mentality that allowed people to think they could pay any price? You need to stop throwing prices around as a justification of value: markets can and do get distorted both by the opportunities, and the type of people who live in an area.
So for Chicago, moderate housing prices, as the saying goes, aren't a bug, they're a feature. Chicago people aren't going to pay any price just to "get in" on the "next big thing". They are probably too busy enjoying their lives.
Posted by: tipster at June 30, 2007 10:29 AM
You should also understand a few things - opportunities are one of, if the not the MOST important thing in measuring the value of real estate in the area. Why are there more opportunities here? Is it just random? If Chicago has such better prices and a better standard of living for regular shmoes, why haven't hordes of opportunities opened up there?
I'm not just referring to SF with this - there are plenty of cities that ALWAYS have more opportunities than others - because they are places that people want to live more than others - more rich people start businesses in those areas, more people KEEP their businesses there because of the quality of life there. The two - prices and opportunities - are much more intertwined than you seem to believe.
And the price runup? Are you serious? Take a look at how much prices in the Chicago went up in the past few years - real estate runups weren't just something that happened on the "coasts" and certainly not something that Chicagoans were "too busy living their lives to worry about". Please.
Posted by: Brutus at June 30, 2007 10:53 AM
Brutus and his many claims of San Francisco superiority as the "best place on earth" as being the reason for the high cost of housing fall flat with my own personal experience. I moved here in 1987 because it was cheaper than Los Angeles! I understand that is not the case now, but being young and just out of school, I wanted to live in a fun cheap interesting place. If I were 26 again, I would probably choose a city like Chicago because I would not want 4 other people sharing a flat with me when I could rent my own there. I think Chicago might be the place to invest, for unlike young Brutus, I don't believe just because it costs more, it must be better. Brutus, why is it so necessary to defend a city like San Francisco when we all chose to live here and enjoy it? This is called a dialogue regarding things we hope change, not whether or not S.F. has better weather than L.A. or Chicago. I think San Francisco will survive as a great and beautiful city without your many attempts to prop it up, and I think it is appropriate to be able to compare costs for housing between this city and others without constantly being reminded of how much "better" San Francisco is. It reminds me of someone who bought an expensive car and has to constantly ask you to affirm that "Isn't this the prettiest car?", "Don't you think this is better than that Porsche over there?".
Posted by: anon at June 30, 2007 11:00 AM
I just find the argument that people in Chicago must be tons smarter than us because they paid less for their house - sure, they make 60k instead of 100k, but hey, that's only because opportunities aren't as good there - they didn't overpay for their house! How much sense does that statement make?
Posted by: Brutus at June 30, 2007 11:11 AM
And anon, thank you for partially proving my point - LA was more expensive in the 80's and early 90's - when opportunities were greater there.
Posted by: Brutus at June 30, 2007 11:13 AM
RG - I completely agree that greed has fueled this housing bubble. As long time residents of SF, we are sick of the thought that our children will probably not be able to afford a home in San Francisco. You are already seeing an exodus of families in San Francisco. No one can deny that. Unless some type of correction happens, San Francisco will be a city inhabited by wealthy singles and DINKS.
Posted by: anon at June 30, 2007 11:20 AM
Chicago is a great city. I grew up there and visit my family there when I get the chance. There is no comparing Chicago housing to SF as it would win hands down, but weather is a huge factor and so are the job industries.
The summers are humid and some days are unbearable. The winters are brutual; when you walk around on a windy winter day it feels like somebody is taking a razor to your face. It rains a lot, more than the Bay Area it seems. Plus we have Napa, real skiing in Tahoe, generally more health conciousness, Monterrey/Carmel and LA within driving distance (and hopefully within a bullet train ride distance when the transbay terminal is built).
Chicago has us on cleanliness and food. Yeah, Chicago has unbelievable restaurants especially within the last decade. But you never run into people changing the world in Chicago as we have here in the Bay Area. We're at the leading edge of technology and it attracts interesting people.
Bottom line is that it's all affected by supply and demand as a previous reader alluded. We simply have limited supply here for all the folks who value the aforementioned pros. There is no reason to be bitter. People vote with their feet and San Francisco real estate will always go for a remarkable premium - worth every penny.
Posted by: anon at June 30, 2007 11:31 AM
It all depends on which "opportunity" is more available in the Bay Area than another region. I am an architect, and believe me, the pay is better in other cities, and there is more opportunity, but I grew up here and chose to continue living here. If I wanted greater opportunity in my profession, I would choose Newport Beach/Irvine, Chicago, or some other region. Believe it or not, our office Orange County office pays about 15% higher than our office here in the city. Also, our office in San Francisco works on more projects outside of this anti-growth area, where as our other offices work on projects in the immediate area. I myself am waiting for the right position in our Honolulu office as I surf and would like to live over there. (Our firm does hotels and residential dev.) Everybody in S.F. does not work in the tech. inudustries, in fact most jobs are in tourism which was in an article on SFGate last week. I believe in S.F., it was tourism first, education second, govt. service third, etc.)
Posted by: anom at June 30, 2007 12:06 PM
I agree 100% that most of the jobs here are not in the tech industry - but most of the tech industry jobs (of which there are hundreds of thousands in the metro area) pay a lot - which will influence the prices. Since around 40-45% of households in the metro rent and nearly 70% of households in SF rent, the 10% or so of households in the metro that work in the tech industry will have a HUGE impact on prices. Take a look at the numbers - median house prices in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County are within a couple percentage points of SF, and Marin is 30-40% HIGHER.
At this point in time, I'm through arguing the point that SF is not a standalone city - some of you will just never understand that fact.
Posted by: Brutus at June 30, 2007 12:26 PM
This whole talk makes me laugh. Only in America would someone suggest that the "only" reason that someone lives somewhere is because there is more opportunity there - and clearly they would want to live somewhere else if that wasn't the case - so that they could buy a place to live. The whole argument just sounds absurd!
Buying a property is just one small thing that you can do in your life! I know that the government, media, and real estate industry has convinced everyone that their life is meaningless if they don't "own" a piece of property, but that's ridiculous! If you can live somewhere with more opportunities for your career and make more money, what difference should it make whether you own or rent? Is that how you people live your life?
My theory - most of the people here complaining about high prices here are much more interested in owning an investment property, only it costs too much for them to own one here. They don't want a place to live, they want to make money. If they merely wanted a place to live and really felt "trapped" here by the amount of opportunities (that one is still making me laugh), they would rent a place, start saving, and eventually buy a place - or not - renting a place doesn't make you less of a human being.
Posted by: anon at June 30, 2007 2:32 PM
Maybe Chicago is not so different as some say. They seem to have some of the same nonsense we do, like Critical Mass.
THIS is not a good sign.
Now, do a challenge to Vancouver please. That city is amazing.
Here is an interesting project in that city.
Posted by: anon at June 30, 2007 4:30 PM
Hmm I like those organic units at jameson house... I wish the Mission Bay architecture took more risk and did more of this stuff...organic and sustainable etc... so far only Arterra has even broached the subject of being eco friendly or are there others? Maybe just a marketing gimmick anyway, but I would like to think we are building housing using more eco friendly methods.
Vancouver is geographically stunningly beautiful but if only it did not rain that much... suppose you get use to it.
Sydney Australia would be more like SF but its not North America so probably comparing apples to oranges.
Posted by: wow at June 30, 2007 5:06 PM
First to anon @ 4:30 - Vancouver is spectacular! I just wish they had more of a tech presence - Seattle has quite a few tech jobs, but Vancouver doesn't seem to have that much - if it did, I would definitely look at moving there.
To the "tipster" - I wasn't aware that I lived in a "tourist" area until you told me (I live at California and 21st), but I must be since my area is kept nice and clean. Come to think of it, my friends that live in the Sunset, just off Ocean Ave in Ingleside, in Glen Park, the Marina, at Pine and Webster, and at Bush and Gough all must live in tourist areas! Good to know! The only "nasty and dirty" areas that I can think of are the Tenderloin/Civic Center area, the Mission, parts of SOMA, and parts of the Western Addy and Haight. In all of those areas, there are groups that exist to actively promote and try to maintain ghetto living (MAC is certainly the loudest, but there are others). Since no one has organized good resistance to those groups, I would assume that most residents in those areas like living in filth, or just don't care.
Me personally, I like clean areas. That's why I will always look at nice neighborhoods (not all of the nice ones are expensive - it costs more to live in the Mission than it does the Richmond) and not the ghettos.
Posted by: anon at June 30, 2007 5:48 PM
Regarding looking for bargains in other cities, I hope we dare to take a look down in Los Angeles. There is some good real estate porn down there. Design-Real Estate flippers like Steve Hermann seem to be doing very well in what is down there a much more sluggish market.
(Check out Christina Aguilera's house as an example)
I think the L.A. upper end homes and condos feel like bargains compared to S.F., but, then you have to live in L.A.
Posted by: anom at June 30, 2007 7:56 PM
And after a decade of watching hoardes of investors running from one "big thing" to the next (internet stocks, real estate on the coasts) I've learned never to place too much emphasis on prices in a bubble as a measure of true worth. It probably speaks to the sensibilities of midwesterners that they didn't start stupid internet companies OR overpay for houses on the basis that they always go up.
Yes, those midwesterners were sooooo smart not to come up with the dotcom companies that have pumped trillions of dollars into the world economy. I'm sure that Chicago is "pretty darn" happy that they don't have Silicon Valley in their backyard and didn't have to deal with all that dotcom runup and subsequent crash. Nothing but negatives came from that (Trying not to fall out of my chair laughing, sorry).
Posted by: tipster checker at June 30, 2007 9:31 PM
Regarding the wealth of the Bay Area. Please do some googles regarding this. The six richest cities in the world both assets and in economic power are NYC, L.A. (Yeah, the city we are not allowed to acknowledge here in the Bay Area), Tokyo, London, CHICAGO!!!!!!!!!!!, and Paris. (And for Brutus, this is for Urban Regions, so they are including San Jose, etc.)
Chicago has something called the "Board of Trade" and three times as many Fortune 500 companies as we do.
I don't know who the person is who continues to spew the Bay Area is the Best Place on Earth stuff, but yes, we have the Tech. Industry, but that is not the ONLY growing sector of the world's economy. The reason for the high cost of housing in the Bay Area is not because it is wealthy, but because there is not a lot of room, or available new construction. Palm Desert (where I have a vacation home) is twice as wealthy as Pacific Heights, but housing costs are 1/4 of S.F. because they have space.
Posted by: anon at July 1, 2007 5:29 AM
Knowing that Mr. S.F. is "special" will check what I am writing, my vacation home zip code is 92210, and you can compare that to the Marina 94123. Housing costs are not always related to income of the population, there are many factors involved. Please give the "Best Place on Earth" posts a rest for a while.
Posted by: anon at July 1, 2007 6:32 AM
anon @ 5:29 am,
When you throw out metro areas that are ALL much larger than the Bay Area, shouldn't there be more wealth there? Unless the place is rocked with poverty? I'm only interested in per capita income and wealth. Total means nothing - NYC, LA, and Chicago SHOULD be much higher - they are all much larger metro areas.
Posted by: Brutus at July 1, 2007 9:24 AM
San Francisco and Alameda County is considered a separate metropolitan area than San Jose and Santa Clara County for the purposes of US government statistics. So economic statistics for the Bay Area are are usually not reported as a whole, and are for much smaller populations than the economic data for the Chicago metropolitan area.
Posted by: Dan at July 1, 2007 10:48 AM
To Palm Desert boy -
Comparing a place in the desert with endless land for further development that is home to mostly second/vacation homes to a neighborhood with homes, condos, and apartments (gasp), and primarily used as first homes (but still in demand as second/vacation) where every piece is developed is probably the most absurd thing that you have ever posted on this site.
Prices are a combination of the wealth of the area, prevailing incomes in the area, and supply. Just because a bunch of wealthy people live somewhere doesn't mean prices will be high.
Posted by: anon at July 1, 2007 10:49 AM
Now this is what One Rincon wishes it was, the tallest residential high rise on the West Coast.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present "The Park Fifth, in L.A. no less.
it is interesting that L.A. is now finally creating density. Why can't this buildnig be up here!?
Posted by: anon at July 1, 2007 6:52 PM
The Park Fifth - emphasis on "park". Nice gated community in the sky - I wish it was up here, then it might actually be connected to a fun place - downtown LA is a ghost town at night.
Posted by: anon at July 1, 2007 7:28 PM
Re: The Park Fifth. That looks like the kind of towers we should see more of in San Francisco instead of condos that look like office buildings. Also regarding downtown L.A., although I would rather live near the beach if I lived down there, the fact that Johnny Depp and Nicholas Cage both own lofts in that area shows things are changing in that city, and there are some cool bars and clubs down there at night. But I am sure I will get slammed for writing ANYTHING positive about Los Angeles as we San Francisccans seem to have an almost religious knee jerk hatred of all things L.A. I hope more of the new towers up here have balconies like the Park Fith, and does this mean One Rincon should stop advertising itself as the tallest residential tower west of Chicago?
Posted by: sergio at July 2, 2007 6:59 AM
One Rincon will still be the tallest resi tower west of Chicago for a little while. It will be completed before Park Fifth.
Posted by: anon at July 2, 2007 8:00 AM
Regarding the 150 story Fordham Spire currently under construction in Chicago, which is linked to earlier, I cannot help but wonder if that sort of height would be appropriate in San Francisco. We have an amazing landscape and context with the bay, hills, clouds, etc. that Chicago does not have, and I am concerned that eventually we may get towers not 150 stories, but perhaps 90 or 100 stories. What happens when there is a fire in a 150 story residential tower? Or in our case, what happens after a quake in a 60 story tower when the power is out for more than a week (like the 89 quake), and you don't have water pressure for two weeks?
Posted by: anom at July 2, 2007 3:30 PM
“Sydney Australia would be more like SF but its not North America so probably comparing apples to oranges.”
There may be some similarities on the surface but Sydney dwarfs San Francisco in terms of it’s sheer size. A better comparison would be New York.
Guess what though? Real Estate in Sydney is just as ridiculously expensive as SF...
Posted by: Willow at July 2, 2007 4:45 PM
What are you smoking, Willow? Sydney's metro population is barely over 4 million.
If you're talking land area that it covers - it is big - probably bigger than NYC, just because sprawl has gotten pretty bad there over the last few decades especially.
Now - for those of you that will pipe up - I LIKE Sydney. This was not a negative post about Sydney or trying to proclaim that SF is the "best place on earth". I was just correcting what appeared to me to be a blatantly false statement.
Posted by: Brutus at July 2, 2007 5:11 PM
Regarding Sydney, their real estate bubble has already burst, and they are beginning to see declines in prices. I happen to think Sydney has some of the best new residential architecture in the world at the moment. Also, for those of us who have been there, it is one of the cleanest, safest, most beautiful cities I have ever visited.
Brutus, I have a question for YOU. Sometimes you argue by including Palo Alto and San Jose as somehow part of what makes the Bay Area unique and expensive. Then you turn around and say that you can't compare this or that place because they don't have density or are walkable without a car. (In other words, only including San Francisco)
Your arguments change to suit your cause, which is to justify San Francisco real estate costs. There are people commuting from the Central Valley so please lay off Sydney's sprawl. I see no difference between the ugliness of 101 going south , and any other sprawling modern city. You have a religious passion to protect San Francisco's good name when it does not need defending. We all live here and know the good and bad points, and we can all get on jets and experience and COMPARE other cities.
Posted by: anom at July 2, 2007 5:31 PM
I only throw in the other areas when people start trying to compare Chicago metro to SF standalone or LA metro to SF standalone, etc, etc. I'm well aware of the sprawl here - some of the worst in the world, no doubt. I've said many, many, many times that SF is a "neighborhood" within the Greater Bay Area, but at 47 square miles - is one of the densest "areas" in the US of THAT size - large enough to fulfill all your needs without leaving often.
Also, some of the posts in my name have not been me, just to let you know. I know all of SF's faults - I don't think it's the "greatest place on earth". If everything else was equal, I would choose Barcelona or Buenos Aires over SF - and would possibly pick Sydney, Vancouver, Paris, or London. I just get tired of people trying to justify the fact that they don't want to pay as much as real estate costs here - by making false claims, touting other places as better for the price, or tearing down anyone who speaks up for this place.
Posted by: Brutus at July 2, 2007 6:45 PM
I think what we have seen here the last couple of months is really rather natural. Housing is a product, and when the product gets too expensive, customers start to shop around and compare. I think this explains all of the recent posts about Chicago, Vancouver, etc. It is not that people would not want to remain in the Bay Area, but that they are weighing options of how they could live and raise a family by changing location. This city is charging a very high cost for housing, and people are getting angry when they see other urban areas with better government, housing and planning.
Posted by: anom at July 2, 2007 7:08 PM
"What are you smoking, Willow? Sydney's metro population is barely over 4 million."
I lived in Sydney for 5 years and the scale of the city is so much larger than San Francisco. They define their city borders significantly different over in Australia. A better comparison would perhaps be the Bay Area in general. But I really think San Francisco as a stand alone city is tiny in comparison to Sydney.
Posted by: Willow at July 3, 2007 9:20 AM
SF as a standalone is a lot smaller than Sydney, sure. I was responding to your statement that Sydney was closer to New York - which it is nowhere near. Geographically, Sydney is quite large - but by population - the metro is less than 2/3 the size of the Bay Area metro and less than half the size of NYC (1/5 the size of the metro). I'm well aware of the ways that they draw borders there - Sydney standalone is only 150,000!
Posted by: Brutus at July 3, 2007 9:52 AM
Brutus, do you include San Jose in your statistical opinions? I am curious, because San Jose, being the largest city in the Bay Area, does not see itself as a suburb of San Francisco. The other question is, how much of San Francisco's economy is REALLY related to what is going on down on the Peninsula and San Jose (GOOGLE notwishstanding). These precious tech. jobs you write about are not a major (or even minor) part of the employed population of the city. San Francisco has more people employed in tourism, government services, education, legal, etc. than tech. jobs. (look it up)
I still believe that the economic importance of "the city", has long ago shifted about 30 miles south. I believe ground zero is now Sand Hill Road, and not Market Street. And as for the West, the economic center shifted way south to Los Angeles, but I know we don't want to start that flame war.
Posted by: anon at July 3, 2007 11:49 AM
Brutus, Population density is only one of many factors when measuring the size of cities. If you lived in Sydney you would understand the NY comparison, while not perfect, is more suitable than San Francisco. It’s simply way bigger in so many ways... (BTW, bigger is not always better! Sydney does have its fair share of problems.) Anyway, it’s really a subjective assessment in the end and I do realize people have different perceptions of individual cities. Actually, the real jewel in that part of the world is Melbourne.
Posted by: Willow at July 3, 2007 2:26 PM
Willow, thanks for bringing up Melbourne! We visited Australia and had booked most of our time in Sydney, but were amazed by Melbourne and changed the schedule to spend more time there than originally planned. I think it is probably one of the most attractive, interesting and suprising cities I have ever visited. What was interesting about Melbourne was that they did not "wear on their sleeve" how great and "world class" their city was, they almost enjoyed it still being a bit of a world secret that they got to benefit from.
Posted by: Morgan at July 3, 2007 3:14 PM
Willow, my posts said NOTHING about density. Just how exactly is Sydney BIGGER than the Bay Area and close to the size of New York? Just because it "feels" that way? I can understand that as an answer - I was merely saying that by population it is nowhere near either metro population, but it might be geographically.
"Metro area" does not have to mean one city and the rest suburbs. Few people would argue that Dallas and Fort Worth or Minneapolis and St. Paul or even Seattle and Tacoma are not part of the same metro areas - yet none of those are considered "suburbs" of the other. San Jose is not a suburb of SF - I never said it was.
I consider SJ and SF to be a part of the metro Bay Area for several reasons. One, it is entirely urbanized on both sides of the Bay between the two cities. Two, it is considered one media market - the reason that we don't have San Jose TV/radio stations and separate SF TV/radio stations - we have Bay Area stations. Three, commuting from all parts of the Bay to other parts is quite common - sure, the majority of people who work in the South Bay live in the South Bay and the majority of people who live in SF work in SF, but commuting is common between the two.
And again, if you seriously think that the money from the South Bay has no (or even little) effect on the price of housing in SF, here's what I recommend:
1. Ride Caltrain south in the morning to see that it is just as crowded leaving the city in the morning as it is arriving in the city.
2. Take a drive south on 101 in the morning, noting that the "reverse commute" is just as busy as the normal commute.
3. Walk around South Beach and ask 10 people where they work. I would guess around 60% will say Silicon Valley.
4. Call up Ebay, Google, and Yahoo, and ask them why they each have DOZENS of 30-40 seat minibuses picking up people in the city each day and taking them to the South Bay and back.(My next door neighbor rides a Google bus back and forth every day)
Why do you keep bringing up LA? I went to school in LA. I like LA. I just don't want to live there. I never said LA wasn't the economic center of the West Coast - it's the second biggest city in the country - why shouldn't it be the economic center of the West Coast?
Posted by: Brutus at July 3, 2007 3:58 PM
Wow, that is exactly the prediction made about San Francisco in the book "Edge City" , Brutus.
I posted about this book once before on this site, it forecast in 1990 that San Francisco would become a city based primarily on tourism, dining and entertainment, and luxury housing. It would no longer hold the center of economic power of the bay area, and would become a city in aesthetics only, but not in reality. It even was bold enough to predict that "hip" couples and singles would buy homes in areas like Noe Valley, but commute to Palo Alto and Burlingame. Now if you go to Sydney, Chicago, Vancouver, etc. you will see that part of what makes their centers so interesting is that people work and live in the same areas. The strange thing is that Edge City felt that we were becoming more like a Los Angeles because of decades of San Francisco fighting against growth and developement. As the book said, we would become an economic "Santa Barbara with skyscrapers".
Posted by: Morgan at July 3, 2007 4:11 PM
I agree to some degree Morgan. As I posted in another thread - I would love to have tons and tons of development along Geary, Van Ness, 19th, 3rd, Mission, and maybe a few other streets. I would especially love to build another "commercial area", maybe out on Geary or something like that.
Unfortunately, SF is different from those other cities you mentioned in that we're close to another job-creating area within our own metro that is churning out more new jobs - and more higher paying ones. The same would happen to Vancouver if there was another job creation zone 50 miles away - some people would live in the "established city" and in turn, DRIVE UP real estate prices there - even though those jobs were not being created in Vancouver.
I certainly wasn't implying that it was a good thing - just that it was something that was happening.
And BTW - Edge City is a great book - a little over-the-top IMO, but a good read nonetheless.
Posted by: Brutus at July 3, 2007 5:12 PM
One city pretty close to us where the same thing is happening, albeit on a smaller scale, is Seattle.
Over the last decade, the east side of Lake Washington (Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, etc - Microsoftland) has created far, far more high paying jobs than Seattle proper - yet Seattle real estate has boomed, and now there is a wave of highrise condo construction sweeping Seattle. Neighborhoods that a few years ago were somewhat affordable (and some even blue collar) are yuppifying. As can be said in the Bay, there are two major employment areas - downtown Seattle (as downtown SF here) and the "Eastside" tech cities (similar to Sili Valley here). After the new wider 520 bridge is completed, look for this pattern to accelerate - because Seattle is a lot closer to the Eastside than SF is to San Jose.
Posted by: Brutus at July 3, 2007 5:34 PM
There's an article in the SF Business Times about the start of construction of the second 1Rincon tower.
The article notes that 1Rincon was designed by Chicago architects who designed "dozens" of towers in Chicago:
I'm not sure I like the thought of a city with dozens of towers by the architects of 1Rincon.
Posted by: Dan at July 3, 2007 5:56 PM
I am not sure why, but their towers in Chicago are a lot better than our candy stripped 80's Irvine office tower.
Posted by: anom at July 3, 2007 7:16 PM
I think if I were an architect, I'd do a lot better job on a building in the heart of a beautiful city than I would on a building 8" from a freeway.
Think of it, if someone hires you for a building in Modesto, are you going to pour your best talent on the project and create a world class design? Doubt it.
Posted by: tipster at July 3, 2007 11:35 PM
It may be 8" from a freeway, but it is still in San Francisco - and while I know everyone likes to argue about how much SF sucks, it still is one of the most "iconic" cities in the US. Seems like they should have done a better job...
Posted by: tipster checker at July 4, 2007 11:00 AM
I will find it interesting to say the least to see which poor person inhabits some of the units that look directly on to the freeway. Should we honk and wave? Will they keep their drapes/blinds closed at all times, or will we have the pleasure of an exhibitionist? At least they will be able to "save face" when telling others that their ground floor freeway unit is on the "sixth floor".
Posted by: anon at July 5, 2007 4:25 PM
Are you kidding? The person who inhabits that unit will make a mint.
They can sell advertising to people trying to reach iPod-unreachable commuters! They can advertise other owners units for sale with the slogan, "If you lived here, you'd be waiting endlessly for a valet to park your car right now!"
Or they can rent that unit out as a game-of-chickenesque thrill ride: put your face up to the glass and stand there as long as you can while the traffic comes *right at you*.
Or maybe they'll demand a million dollar per day ransom from bay area commuters for NOT hiring some attractive model to stand there in some skimpy outfit creating massive traffic jams.
Or they can open up the glass ala drive-thru window and sell coffee and pastries from the window to all of the grid locked commuters, since they are only 8" from the right lane.
Or they can collect all of the spit wads that will no doubt be thrown at their windows day and night from mischievous teens sitting at the passenger windows of passing cars and make a giant paper mache art project out of it, then charge admission to view it.
Or they can again open their windows and make a "throw your drugs here" sign for felons fleeing cops from lower Oakland, and then they can sell the drugs to the people in the townhouses who will need some relief from the on-ramp fumes.
Or they can start a laundry drying service by hanging other residents' laundry out that window to get the extra traffic-induced breeze when the residents realize it's taking 6 hours per load to dry their laundry without vents.
I'm telling you, the right person can make oodles of lemonade out of that lemon of a location. That's the BEST unit in the building, not the worst.
The funnier people will be all those guys on floors 6-55 telling their friends how the building was the tallest on the west coast for a while, as if that makes any difference to people on all but the top 5 floors.
Posted by: tipster at July 5, 2007 4:52 PM
So, question to everyone - if 8" from the freeway was a horrible place to put this building, what SHOULD have been put there? Should we just make every bit of land 200' on either side of the freeway a no-man's land for the bums to live on? To create an even larger gash on the urban landscape than the freeway already is?
Posted by: tipster checker at July 5, 2007 6:33 PM
I just want to thank Tipster for one of the best laughs I have had in a long time reading this site. And for "Mr. Checker", there is nothing wrong with a little humor regarding one of the most over-hyped new towers in the Bay Area. Tipster, I copied your 4:52pm comment and sent it around the office to those of us who are not on vacation, and you made a lot of people lol. All you have to do is drive by that building on the freeway and if you do not shake your head at the fools who will be staring at you as you stare at them, and even their neighbors above who will be sharing in the fumes, horns, screeching brakes, and rumbling roar of one of the busiest freeways in America.
Posted by: anon at July 5, 2007 6:56 PM
I found the "Tipster's" post humorous as well - I was posing a serious question, however. What would the minds of Socketsite preferred to see there? Is it merely the amount of money that those condos are selling for that makes you laugh? Or the fact that a building exists there?
Posted by: tipster checker at July 5, 2007 9:01 PM
To Tipster Checker (aka Brutus?), I think some people, including me, think it is strange that a "luxury" building would be located adjacent to a freeway. Back before the current frenzy, living next to bus stations, train yards, and busy highways was "sub-optimal", and I will never be convinced that this will be the next Pacific Heights. I do think it will be a GREAT area of the city, but with a different lifestyle. I still like being able to walk only one block to coffee, dinner, the bank, cleaners, etc. I do think the upper floors of One Rincon have amazing views, and hope the windows they are installing are "whisper quiet" so they will not hear the roar of the freeway below.
I will never understand why the Western side of this city has not "taken off" with more developement. I can think of a lot of areas of this city I would choose before next to a freeway.
Posted by: Anom at July 6, 2007 1:17 PM
I think Tipster and Brutus should go on a date. They have so much to say to each other, why limit their relationship to this blog? And they both seem to have so much time on their hands.
Posted by: anonymon at July 6, 2007 4:24 PM
What would I have liked to see there? Oh that's easy. I would have proposed a super tall insane asylum for real estate flippers and their tenants.
Hmmm, come to think of it...
Posted by: tipster at July 6, 2007 7:58 PM
The west side of the city has not taken off because no one there wants development - something many of you seem not to understand. Developers can only build where neighbors will allow and there is space to build. If your only complaint against the building is that it's "luxury", well I guess blame the people buying, not the developer - he's laughing all the way to the bank - and making the area better because the building is using all of that "worthless" space next to the freeway in the process.
And FYI - I'm not Brutus - I'm usually anon, but have been a checker or two in my day.
Posted by: Anom checker at July 7, 2007 12:44 AM
Who said the land next to the freeway had to be housing? In a city with so much under-utilized space, this is the ONLY land to build one of the most expensive, tallest towers? It was built there because Rincon Hill did not have a strong anti growth presence. There is plenty of empty lots, and empty warehouses in Soma that One Rincon could have been located on. I think Seattle had a better way of using space next to their central freeway. Look it up, it is still an ongoing project, and has been winning awards for decades. Manhattan is also using the land next to the Westside Highway in very creative ways. Condos alone will not solve San Francisco's problems.
Posted by: anon3 at July 7, 2007 1:02 AM
Funny stuff. Most people I know in Seattle talk about how great SF is for tearing down some of our freeways, not the "awards" that theirs win. I'm not sure what problems you're referring to, but SF currently needs condos more than it needs the things that those other cities are building. If there are morons that will spend the amount that they are on Rincon condos right at freeway level, what is better than that? Blocks the freeway from others, adds some residents to help the retail that will soon be in the area, etc, etc. I agree that the prices are ridiculous on some of the units, but the ones on the opposite side of the freeway? You think they'll notice?
Posted by: anon3 checker at July 7, 2007 12:02 PM
"[Editor's note: A PLUGED-in reader assures us that this is not true.]" ???
Off topic, but I've been noticing more and more typos and misspellings on this site than ever before, although I haven't pointed it out each and every time. It's an eyesore. This is an intelligent blog with many intelligent readers, and I enjoy popping in every once in a while. Let's please try to maintain the standard.
Posted by: S&S in SF at July 7, 2007 12:06 PM
What Seattle did was cover up the freeway Mr Checker. They built over it with parks, performance spaces, museums, transit stations etc. Travel will open up some of your eyes to the fact that other areas including Chicago MAY have something we can learn from. The reason the mayor of our city brough his staff to Chicago was to LEARN, not defend S.F. from critics. (By the way, why do you insist on having to stop any constructive dialogue about what other cities are doing better and worse than us? )
MAYOR LOOKS EAST FOR INSPIRATION
Posted by: anon3 at July 7, 2007 1:03 PM
By the way, the SFGATE link above also has a 3 minute video by John King that explores why Chicago is currently so successful in getting things done.
Posted by: anon3 at July 7, 2007 1:13 PM
If we are suggesting new cities for discussion, I would love to have some thoughts on Austin. Seems like it is young, hip and growing. And still affordable. Thoughts?
Posted by: appalled at July 7, 2007 1:33 PM
I'm only confused because every time that I have asked why this building is "obviously" in the wrong place, YOU changed the subject. Sure,some cities do some things better than us. But, when you answer my question by saying that we should build a park over the entrance to the Bay Bridge - huh!?!? Two totally different situations. Travel to Seattle some time and tell me how "beautiful" the Alaskan Way Viaduct is... Should they build a park on top of that thing?
Fact is - we CAN'T bury or build over the Bay Bridge approach - so what is wrong with lining the sides with tall buildings to minimize it's impact on the rest of the neighborhood? That was my question.
Posted by: anon3 checker at July 7, 2007 5:20 PM
Scroll down for a very cool new synagogue being built in the Richmond - occasionally cool architecture statements are allowed in SF:
Posted by: Steve at July 7, 2007 9:02 PM
You might be interested in a current plan by the city to deck over I-280 at Balboa Park, creating parkland, better transit connections, and residential and retail space:
Posted by: Steve at July 7, 2007 9:47 PM
"You might be interested in a current plan by the city to deck over I-280 at Balboa Park"
It seems like that part of the 280 is actually level or below street level. Much easier to build a deck over that than the 2 level west approach to the bay bridge which is elevated quite a bit above street level.
Posted by: anonymon at July 8, 2007 2:00 AM
If I can offer another view regarding the thoughts about the central freeway from the Bay Bridge. (Are we allowed to post while on vacation in New England?) The San Francisco Modern Art Museum did an exhibition called "Unbuilt San Francisco" that explored projects proposed to help the urban fabric of the city. The biggest part of the show was the designs mostly from the 40's and 50's for where the Bay Bridge terminates into the city. Some of the proposals were fantastic, instead of 70's Irvine Office towers pretending to be luxury condos, they had various solutions far more interesting than what we are stuck with. Most attractive to me, were two 40 story towers where the Bridge Ramp would terminate into a very large urban parkway like Lake Shore Drive, with feeder routes on the sides. What is sad to me is that people today think that the ONLY solution is the one we are currently stuck with which has the least imagination. Chicago was saved by the Great Fire, which allowed it to completely rebuild and redesign the entire city including waterfront, parks, and boulevards. The 1906 earthquake created similar changes for our city. SOMA is not Paris, and could use a little bit of imagination.
Posted by: Morgan at July 8, 2007 7:06 AM
"where the Bridge Ramp would terminate into a very large urban parkway like Lake Shore Drive, with feeder routes on the sides. What is sad to me is that people today think that the ONLY solution is the one we are currently stuck with which has the least imagination."
Sounds nice but get real. Are you suggesting that an option was to redesign the west approach altogether? Maybe an idea in the 40s and 50s but not realistic today.
Posted by: anonymon at July 8, 2007 10:50 AM
The bridge ramped down to a large (huge) parkway that was more like an old style urban parkway which had "local" roads on the sides, while cross traffic tunneled underneath the main parkway. This design (according to the book which I have also) was taken from Europe and Chicago. The traffic would flow at about 45mph which of course now is almost never (3am perhaps?). One architect had a design lined with buildings more like a very wide version of Market Street, and I think people just dreamed differently back then, and wanted this city to be an urban showcase. I think the question is, One Rincon is now one of the iconic gateways into this city, and is this the kind of architecture we want to welcome people with? "Look Mom, that building looks just like where Dad works in Dallas".
Posted by: anon at July 8, 2007 11:09 AM
"Look Mom, that building looks just like where Dad works in Dallas".
It's funny how everyone picks on Dallas as if the SF skyline is so wonderful. I have to say that SF has one of the ugliest skylines of American cities. I'm not a real fan of One Rincon's architecture but it's no uglier than every other non descript brown and gray building in downtown SF. There are a few exceptions but one of the problems is that there were height restrictions until recently so everybuilding is approximately the same height. SF ended up looking like a wall of kleenex boxes stacked vertically.
Posted by: 94114 at July 8, 2007 11:20 AM
"...and I think people just dreamed differently back then, and wanted this city to be an urban showcase."
Please remember that the 40's and 50's brought us the "beautiful" boulevards of Geary and Webster, as well as the razing of the entire Western Addition for "urban renewal". The 40's and 50's also brought us this plan:
Do you long for a Mission St freeway? A Van Ness freeway? Perhaps a Panhandle or North Beach freeway?
Suggesting that we should tear down the Bay Bridge approach to replace it with a Parisian Boulevard (the name you were looking for - we have an example at Octavia Blvd or Sunset or Park Presidio) is a total non-starter. Caltrans would have a coronary, and most people in this city would come out in strong opposition to it - because it would require razing hundreds of buildings and would likely be slower for cars.
All cities do things good and bad - our Embarcadero has been used as a model for dozens of cities.
Posted by: Steve at July 8, 2007 11:50 AM
Lake Shore Drive is an urban road that flows fine with four lanes each direction, and yet it does not feel like a freeway. It has parks, towers, and dozens of fantastic highrise residential buildnigs, many from the 20's and 30's. Who said more freeways? I think the idea was not to seperate the road from the city , but make it a part of the city, while still allowing the traffic to flow. There are other ways of moving traffic and allowing developement besides the current ugly freeway we are stuck with.
Posted by: Morgan at July 8, 2007 12:01 PM
"All cities do things good and bad - our Embarcadero has been used as a model for dozens of cities."
Really? Would you care to name those cities? Seems to me we were following instead of being a leader as our palm(?) lined road is a pretty recent change compared to other cities waterfront renewal projects.
Posted by: anon at July 8, 2007 12:09 PM
"Really? Would you care to name those cities? Seems to me we were following instead of being a leader as our palm(?) lined road is a pretty recent change compared to other cities waterfront renewal projects."
Seattle for one - here are a few links for you:
Posted by: Steve at July 8, 2007 12:19 PM
And Morgan, I would love to have a Lakeshore Drive type road take the place of 101, but it isn't reasonable to think that that could be done. 101 is a STATE highway. The Bay Bridge handles MUCH more traffic than does Lakeshore Drive - the boulevard would need to be wider than the current footprint of the freeway - should we demolish buildings from the foot of the bridge all the way to Candlestick Point?
I would love to see the freeway gone, but you're comparing apples to oranges.
Posted by: Steve at July 8, 2007 12:24 PM
That's a helluva lot of eminent domain...
Posted by: anon at July 8, 2007 12:31 PM
Mayor Daley has and would do something like this parkway-lake shore drive design. I think the central freeway (and I am not talking about the bridge ramp) is one of the reasons Soma feels more like any other city than the neighborhoods north of Market. The SFGATE article linked above mentions that architects for projects in Chicago had to invest more time in design because the better the architecture, the better the chance of getting it through the city. Imagine! Who wants to be slapped by One Rincon as the first thing you see as you are driving into the city? I second the comment about the ugliness of the San Francisco skyline, it does look like a stack of "kleenex boxes".
You have to see what they have done to Chicago to understand how fast things can change. The new landscaping, Millenium Park, the new towers, this is all in the last 10 years!!! Daley would have San Francisco, clean, homeless free, and growing in no time.
Posted by: anon3 at July 8, 2007 2:04 PM
Clearly you know very little about the way San Francisco politics work. Daley is a good mayor - but he would be EATEN ALIVE in San Francisco. I'm not saying that is a good thing - I wish that people here would grow up and learn that sacrifices need to be made for the good of others, but that's simply not the case - it takes longer to get things done here - just one man - a mayor - cannot get that done. The Board of Supes and the community groups have FAR more power here than they do in Chicago - a shame? Certainly? A fact? Even more certainly.
On the boulevard, remember where One Rincon is - the Bay Bridge approach would not even be able to touch the ground for a boulevard until at least 4th Street - far past where One Rincon is. Walk over there sometime and see how far above the ground the approach still is - it would need several more blocks to come down to ground level, regardless of any redesign.
Posted by: Steve at July 8, 2007 3:03 PM
I wouldn't take any of this personally - this debate is kind of a microcosm of San Francisco itself.
On one side - Morgan, anon3, rg, and other "Chicago is the bestest city in the world and every other city, especially SF, must bow down and worship every move that Chicago makes!"
On the other side - Brutus, SFHighrise, the checkers and other "SF is better" peeps.
Neither side is willing to give the other side any ground or even LISTEN to their opinions. They both think - "Clearly if they don't agree with everything I've said, they haven't heard me! I must say it again!"
San Francisco is full of this kind of attitude. Morgan and folks may not realize it, but they are part of the problem in this city. Yelling and screaming that "SF does everything wrong!" without working with the different viewpoints gets us nowhere. Compromise is what we need here, people.
Posted by: anon at July 8, 2007 3:39 PM
People here need to come back to reality.
Let's just redesign the entire city with parks, beautiful roads, decks over the freeways, etc....sounds great but near impossible in any city let alone a city where you can't even paint your fence without getting a permit first.
Posted by: anonymon at July 8, 2007 3:52 PM
Morgan: "There are other ways of moving traffic and allowing developement besides the current ugly freeway we are stuck with."
How would you suggest we move the 280,000 cars that pass the bay bridge everyday?
Posted by: anonymon at July 8, 2007 3:57 PM
Socketsite censor strikes again!
[Editor’s Note: Calm down. A word filter match triggered an automatic spam filtering of your comment at 3:39PM (which we just un-junked). In the future, try dropping us a note before screaming “censorship!”]
Posted by: anon at July 8, 2007 4:28 PM
What are the feelings of the throbbing brain on the new Federal Building? Good architectural statement or no?
Posted by: Georg at July 8, 2007 9:59 PM
Heh, relax. I never said everything San Francisco does is wrong. (?) I am sorry people are not more up on their San Francisco history however. In my case, and I don't know about the others, I was just giving an example of Lake Shore Drive. I WISH it was another city OTHER THAN CHICAGO, since Chicago seems to be a sensitive subject here. There could be an alternative between those who want to tear down all of the freeways, and those who say they must remain. I just felt that Lake Shore Drive was a nice example of a road that carried as much traffic as a freeway, but did not feel like a freeway. Unless you have been there, you would not understand.
I am sorry to say there is no website or books available for the 1995 Unbuilt San Francisco exhibition. The plans proposed decades ago are far more imaginative than anything going on now in this city (and NONE of them included freeways!). I am still in longing for the original large plaza with traffic circulating around it that was proposed for in front of the Ferry Building around 1912, it made the piazzas of Rome seem modest in comparison. Millenium Park (yes Chicago again) shows that a city can still do big creative things if it has the will and a mayoral dictatorship like Daley's.
Posted by: Morgan at July 9, 2007 5:29 AM
To say that none of the plans from the 50's included freeways is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. Perhaps none of the plans that you saw at the exhibition, but ALL of the plans that actually had a chance of happening had extensive freeways. Have you never heard of the famous "freeway revolts" that started in SF and then spread to NYC?
And BTW, Lakeshore Drive doesn't handle anywhere approaching the number of cars per day that the Bay Bridge handles (a little less than half) - and yes, I have been there, I have seen it, I wish it could be done here, but the situation is totally different - apples to oranges.
Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 8:46 AM
Jeez, please calm down I was talking about the BOOK "Unbuilt San Francisco". It was part of an exhibition of plans throughout the history of San Francisco showing projects that were dreamed but never built. Before the Oakland Bay Bridge was finished, there was a proposal that it would terminate in the city in the form of a large high speed boulevard similar to Lake Shore Drive. The exhibition did not refer to freeways at all. I am glad the freeways were not built, and I am happy the embarcadero freeway was destroyed. There is no reason the waterfront south of Market could not be a Lake Shore Drive type of experience, it is not apples and oranges. Please calm down. I do not remember people screaming in the museum about how this is "impossible!", and "crazy!". Quite the opposite, it was a very impressive presentation and perhaps one could search on ebay for the book? 1995 seems so long ago now.
Posted by: Morgan at July 9, 2007 8:56 AM
Sorry, thanks for the explanation. I was just talking about plans that were going to be implimented, not just proposals. Unfortunately for all of us, Caltrans (and the auto industry) had a choke hold on all of California from the late 30's through the 70's with one goal in mind - More freeways! No other plans were EVER given serious thought during that time.
I think I've actually seen that book, but I might try to find it again.
And LOL about the mayoral "dictatorship" in Chicago! It goes to show that sometimes it takes silencing the opinions of others to get stuff done! I wish that we could do that here - unfortunately, part of the culture of SF - and the reason that many people are here in the first place - is that openness to all viewpoints is encouraged - which many times creates a situation where NOTHING gets done.
Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 9:53 AM
wow, you guys sure do hate Chicago, huh.
SF is beautiful (born and raised), but I'm sorry, exactly WHAT architecture does it have that is better than Chicago? Chicago has world class architecture (first skyscrapers, tallest scrapers, tons of different architectural styles, etc, some of the best architects in the world trained/built there). Chicago may have the best architecture in our country (Manhattan IMO is a close second... second because it is all skyscrapers whereas Chicago has more than that)
SF has some victorians. And a few small concrete towers, most uninspired except of course Transamerica tower. For god's sake, look at the crap they're building and calling a "new landmark". are you kidding? Let's compare Chicago Spire or even Trump's tower with 1 Rincon...
The only architecture that SF has is its natural beauty (which isn't manmade), and the GG bridge.
I lurk here, and this post was the worst you've ever done. It's like a little kid who's trying to make him/herself feel better by insulting a better rival... only the rival doesn't even know that there's a Rivalry!
FWIW: I'm a born/raised SFer, moved to Midwest. I have no affiliation or love for Chicago and will never move there, although I have spent a lot of time there.
[Editor’s Note: At the risk of putting words into our guest editor’s mouth (who’s now in hiding), we think you might have missed a bit of the subtle self depreciating sarcasm. Regardless, thanks for plugging in (even if only as a lurker).]
Posted by: ex-SFer at July 9, 2007 10:54 AM
If you are ever in Chicago, I hope you make a point of walking over to this building, as now pictured above. The two story Penthouse has a very interesting Asian-Zen type forest growing into a very attractive green space. This was mentioned wayyyyyyy above, but this building won a LOT of awards from the AIA, and the parking garage circulation (in Chicago, which is much more walkable and has more subway lines than S.F. a deeded parking space is not thought of as a luxury, but a necessary part of ownership) is really amazing. The ramps are all glass on the sides so you can see the cars going up and down, and the concrete work is actually quite beautiful.
Posted by: Anom at July 9, 2007 1:02 PM
Chicago is more walkable in part because it has more subway lines - SF never wanted the subway lines because everyone was going to have a car. Don't you see the paradox? You can't have a walkable city where all new developments come with a parking spot without better transit - you can't get better transit without one of two things - lots of money or more priority for transit on current streets.
SF is also a lot smaller (meaning less money to spend in certain areas for transit - ie one side of the city subsidizes transit building in another is a lot more possible in Chicago - here the other side of our city is a different city, which keeps all of that transit money for themselves - it's why we have BART in Dublin, but no BART on Geary - one of the densest corridors on the West Coast) and more dense than chicago(meaning traffic congestion is worse) - you're comparing apples to oranges.
Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 5:07 PM
"...in Chicago, which is much more walkable and has more subway lines than S.F. a deeded parking space is not thought of as a luxury, but a necessary part of ownership..."
Can't wait to walk around in a city where having a parking spot is a necessary part of ownership! Paris should be so lucky!
Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 5:32 PM
You people really need to get over your hatred of car owners. It is the old Bay Area finger wagging at its worst, "how DARE you have a car". "How COULD that building provide parking". "Don't they know they are killing the planet", etc. etc. Worry about your own life choices and not mine or the people who choose to live in buildings with parking.
Posted by: NotBitter at July 9, 2007 7:06 PM
I don't give a crap if you own a car. I don't dislike cars. I dislike places built around cars. I like pedestrian-scale neighborhoods - and having excessive cars KILLS that.
Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 8:25 PM