Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Royal Salute to Polk Street

Polk Street buzzes from one end to the other. If I had to pick one single street in San Francisco that has it all, I'd pick Polk Street.
I think of it in three distinct parts.
Its northern third feels posh and classic postcard San Francisco. Here you'll find Fort Mason, Ghirardelli Square, The Aquatic Park, a perfect beach, amphitheater, maritime museum and vintage vessels lining Hyde Street Pier. Here's an elevated panoramic shot I took of the North Shore at Polk Street.
Fort Mason & The Golden Gate

As the street skirts Russian Hill the well-kept shops give way to a decidedly French zone. There are still a few remaining used bookshops among the boulangeries, wine merchants, delis and cafes. It's chic but bohemian in a Tales of The City sort of way.

Le Petit Marchet Polk Street SF
The shot below is a view looking north from Green Street toward San Francisco Bay. The pair of minarets once topped the opulent Alhambra Theater, now sadly converted to a big chain gym. The green-trimmed cafe on the corner right is La Boulange de Polk.
A View of The Alhambra
The midsection skirting Nob Hill, known as Polk Gulch -- between Broadway and Bush Street --hits a sweet spot: an historic neighborhood vibe, kaleidoscopically varied people from Muslim-attired families to new kid rockers to urbanites out for some of The City's best food and drinks.
The intersection of Pine and Polk is the street's halfway mark. On the southwestern corner is Kimo's, a terrific rock club upstairs and a legendary gay bar downstairs. Opposite Kimo's is Royal Liquors. I wouldn't say there's anything particularly special about this booze shop, but i like this photograph of it. The palm, the light, the colors, the mood, locals passing by, the signage and its message help represent the district's charm to me.

The welcoming street life along this stretch balances the comfortable wealth of Russian Hill with the vibrant squalor of The Tenderloin.


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