Monday, July 12, 2010

The Flat Ainsleigh Project: San Francisco Edition

My brother Jeff and his charming fiancee, Jess, recently moved into San Francisco and offered to host Flat Ainsleigh in the city. While Ainsleigh spent the first four years of her life in the Bay Area, she has never spent the night in San Francisco! And, certainly, one can never have to much of the City by the Bay. So of course we jumped at the chance and off Flat Ainsleigh flew and here we have documented their spectacular adventures. Thanks to the generous Jeff and Jess!

Dear Ainsleigh,

We were very excited to have you with us these past couple weeks. Here's our historical view of the City by the Bay:

San Francisco was a quiet town of about 1,000 people in 1848 when gold was discovered in the hills to the east. Two years later, the population jumped to 50,000, with almost everyone arriving by boat at this port:

Of course, at the time those buildings did not exist, certainly not the tall one above the words "Francisco", which is where your uncle Jeff now "works" (quotations as I'm currently writing this from there). During the gold rush, people were so anxious to get to the hills and mine that they would often just abandon their boats. Boats were the main form of transportation to San Francisco until the 1930s when the Bay Bridge was built:

We spent the morning at the farmer's market here, one of the biggest in the country:

San Francisco is home to people from all over the world. A large part of the city is called Chinatown, and is the oldest one in the country, with immigrants arriving around the time of the Gold Rush:

The city boomed after the gold rush. In the late 1800s, a large resort called the Cliff House was built on the Pacific Coast side of San Francisco. Due to the distance from the main part of the city and the expensive toll roads, only rich families were able to visit it at first. Here's a picture of the Cliff House in about 1903 (notice the clothing of the kids):

In 1906, there was an enormous earthquake (more on that later...), but the Cliff House was unharmed. Unfortunately, the next year it burned to the ground. Later, a smaller, more modest Cliff House was rebuilt on the site, which we visited:

We ate lunch there, which had great views of the beach and ocean.

In the early morning of April 17, 1906, there was a huge earthquake that hit San Francisco. Many buildings collapsed, but the bigger problem was that fires started, and burned almost the entire city to the ground. San Franciscans loved their city and were determined to rebuild it. Thousands of buildings were built in the next few years, including the one where you stayed with us. In 1915, San Francisco had an Exposition, a sort of party where everyone in the world is invited. It was to show how San Francisco had risen from the ashes. One of the main sites was the Palace of Fine Arts, that we also visited:

This one is actually a replica of the original. The architect of the original believed that each great city should have ruins (like Rome/Athens) and so he built the Palace with material that would purposefully crumble. Since he was a little crazy, the Palace was rebuilt with good materials as you see it today.

At night you slept with our cats, hope you're not allergic:

We live on Lombard Street. One stretch, just a few blocks from where we live, is very steep, so they had to make it a windy street in order for cars to go down:

San Francisco is a very hilly city. In the 1870s, a man felt bad for the horses that had to carry wagons and supplies up the steep hills, so he invented the cable car. If you come in person, we'll ride one, but they're usually filled with tourists and we're too cool for that. We did hike up Telegraph Hill for a great view of the city:

When your mom was about your age, Grandpa Ostler worked in the building just to the left of the pyramid looking one, it has two spires if you look closely.

There's an island in the middle of the bay called Alcatraz. It was originally a fort during the civil war, but was converted into a federal prison in the 1920s. Many famous criminals were housed there, as well as you:

The island has some great views of the city. The prisoners could sometimes even hear people talking from the shore, which made it even harder to be locked up.

It was great having you. We felt bad that Donovan wasn't here too, so we bought him a book about San Francisco that we'll be sending in the mail, perhaps you could read it to him.

We look forward to having the real Ainsleigh come visit and we'll do all of this again!

Jeff and Jess


NancyO said...

What a fun visit and commentary!

Becca said...

Indeed!! Good job jess and jeff! Okay now I want Flat Ainsleigh. Although I may enroll her in one of my clinical trials. =) Send her!