Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It says "Open Daily During Daylight Hours"...

OK, we had an eclipse Sunday, hence less daylight -- but why was Empire Park closed on Saturday too?

The pictured "Open Daily During Daylight Hours" sign, and the adjacent definitely closed gate padlock, are what we found Saturday at Empire Park on Commercial Street in San Francisco.

And this, dear reader, is the second installment of our report on Saturday's Lunching in Public exploration. Which you can regard as, I dunno, a recapitulation of the "dérive" concept that interrogates the admissibility of class-coded bodies to ostensibly welcoming but covertly contested and surveilled public territories in late-capitalist urban somethingorother, or you can regard it as Joel and me taking afternoons off to eat lunch in new places because it's something different to do.

Anyhow, Empire Park was where we'd hoped to bring some take-out coffee after our public-space lunch on the public-space terrace above the Crocker Galleria. A guy at a business next door said the park is always closed weekends. Oh, well.

Eh, at least there are benches and closely spaced street trees on the all-but-pedestrian alley outside the railings. But -- park railings? Locked? Again? Hadn't known there were so many Londony fenced-off parks in San Francisco until we started to visit these privately owned public spaces....

A pity. We'll have to come back some weekday.

Empire Park is historic as well as pretty. According to Rand Richards' Historic Walks in San Francisco (p. 133), the Emperor Norton once lived in a lodging house on the site. A six-by-ten room for fifty cents a night. (Sheesh, rents change in that neighborhood but room sizes don't.) A brass "Barbary Coast Trail" plaque is in the sidewalk outside. And two doors down is the Pacific Heritage Museum (about which more later), housed in the old U.S. Subtreasury Building.

Well, here's a consolation: while digging through reviews of Empire Park When It's Open -- all of which are glowing -- I've run across another good directory of little San Francisco parks: "Curbed's Map of San Francisco's Best Secret Gardens." That's great -- more grist for our Lunching in Public feature. Maybe we'll find a few more places to be Members Of The Public in on a weekend.

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