Home -> Other California History Books -> Vignettes of San Francisco -> As Pilgrams go to Rome

Previous Page Home Up One Level Next Page

Vignettes of San Francisco

As Pilgrims go to Rome

In the same way that the poets have loved Rome and made their pilgrimages there - as good Moslems travel toward Mecca, so there are some of us who have come to San Francisco. Then when we arrive and find it all that we have dreamed, our love for it becomes its highest tribute. And I don't know why it is sacrilege to mention Rome and San Francisco in the same breath. As for me I greatly prefer San Francisco, although I have never been to Rome.

I love San Francisco for its youth. Other cities have become set and hard and have succumbed to the cruel symmetry of the machine age, but not San Francisco. It is still youth untamed. They may try, but they cannot manicure it, nor groom it, nor dress it up in a stiff white collar, nor fetter it by not allowing a body to stretch out on the grass in Union Square or prohibiting street-fakers and light wines served in coffee pots and doing away with wild dashing jitneys.

Then there is something about San Francisco's being away out here from everyone else, a city all alone. New York is five hours from Boston; Philadelphia is close between New York and Washington; Baltimore is a trolley ride away; Chicago is only overnight from all the other cities, while Atlanta is only two sleeping car nights from her sister cities. But San Francisco, out here as far as it can reach with one foot in the great Pacific, nearly a week from New York and a month away from China, some people wouldn't like it, but something vagabondish in me rejoices to have run away from them all. Especially at night when the fog comes in on the city and shuts out even Oakland, and fog horns out of the Golden Gate call mournfully, and boats in the bay go calling their lookout calls, I get this feeling of far-offness from the rest of the world that is very gratifying.

And I love the sound of San Francisco, the sound of its singing - some cities roar and others hum, but San Francisco sings. And I love the look of it and the feel of it. I love to stand, on its hills in the mornings when the bride-veil fog is going out to sea and the smoke and steam and fog and sunshine make one grand symphonic morning song. And I love to stand on high hills on clear days when all her cubist houses stand bold in the sunlight and the cities across the bay are so close to the touch. And I love its color, flowers and girls and splashes of the Oriental. And I love its Bohemia which is not affected, but real. I love it because it is young and live and spontaneous and humorous and beauty-loving and unashamed of anything that is life. Oh, I don't know.

If I were in New York and it should begin to suffocate me I would run and run across the continent and never stop once until I landed on the top of Telegraph Hill.

Previous Page
Up One Level
Next Page