Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk Carousel

This is a beautiful Carousel, I was able to get some great shots of the teams of horses on it. There were rows of Greys, blacks, whites, and palamino. It's an all horse Carousel. I have of course included a little history about the Carousel from the National Carousel Association.

Description: Looff
Carousel Class: Classic Wood Carousel
Last Update: 2006
Status: Active
Year Built: 1911
Type: 4 rows, Park, All Wood composition
Figures: 71 Jumping Horses, 2 Standing Horses, 2 chariots
Music: Band Organ: Ruth und Sohn 1894 orig. equip.
Notes: Operational Ring Arm, Still In Original Location, Listed in the National Historical Register - 1987
Comments: Restored 1980 by SC Boardwalk ongoing restoration. Some horses from Myrtle Beach, SC and Belmont Park, San Diego (1978).
History: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, CA, 1911 to present

The Looff Carousel includes a brass ring dispenser, which riders can reach out and try to collect during each pass. Riders can then toss any ring they get at a target. Along with the Crescent Park Carousel in Rhode Island, the Riverfront Park Carousel in Washington, and the Grand Carousel in Pennsylvania, the Santa Cruz Looff Carousel is one of the last remaining carousels that offer this feature. Sometimes people take the rings to remember their ride on the Carousel.
The Looff family was one of the major early manufacturers of carousels, including this 1911 example. Only five other intact Looff carousels remain in the United States.

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk

On our way home, Jeff and I made a point to stop in Santa Cruz to see the Boardwalk there. It has been there over one hundred years and is one of those places of 'days gone by' that we find so interesting. I figured there would be plenty to add to our Amusementorium gallery as well. The Boardwalk has this antiquated looking skyway ride, a few themed fun house type places, plenty of rides, and lots of junk food available. I was especially looking for the Carousel. I am going to do a separate blog for the Carousel because it is so unique and I have lots of photos!

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is an oceanfront amusement park in Santa Cruz, California. Founded in 1907 and operated by the family-owned Santa Cruz Seaside Company since 1915, it is California's oldest surviving amusement park and one of two seaside parks on the West Coast of the United States (the other being the Santa Monica Pier). The West Coast once hosted many more beach parks, including the Pike in Long Beach, California, Neptune Beach in Alameda and Playland at San Francisco's Ocean Beach. All have long since closed, but the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk survives as a reminder of a bygone era in amusement.
The Boardwalk was founded by Santa Cruz businessman Fred Swanton, who aimed to create a "Coney Island" for the West Coast.[citation needed] Swanton began his project in 1904 with the original Casino. Twenty-two months after it opened, the building was gutted by a fire that started in the kitchen. Rebuilding began just a few months later; the original Boardwalk, a pier and a new Casino opened in 1907. The park has been owned and operated by the Santa Cruz Seaside Company since 1911.
In 1911, woodcarver and amusement park pioneer Charles Looff created the Looff Carousel. His son, Arthur, suggested that the park owners replace the park's first thrill ride, the aging L.A. Thompson Scenic Railway, with a modern wooden coaster, the Giant Dipper, which was designed by the younger Looff and opened in 1924. Business slowed down during the Great Depression and World War II, but the Casino's Cocoanut Grove ballroom was at its peak.

Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, many older seaside amusement parks closed, including the Pike and Playland-at-the-Beach. The Boardwalk survived — and thrived — by introducing many new attractions and undergoing an extensive renovation in the early 1980s.
On June 25, 2006 the new ride WipeOut opened, featuring music written by the park's Audio Specialist, Donaven Staab. On June 22, 2007 the Boardwalk turned 100 years old, marking "100 Years of Fun".
In March 2007, the Boardwalk installed a Wurlitzer Style 165 band organ to use along with the Adolf Ruth & Sohn organ already in place. It was bought for a price of $250,000 and restored by the Stinson Band Organ Company of Ohio. The new Wurlitzer organ features a front portion that serves as a façade to hide the inner workings of the organ. The front also features beautifully rendered illustrations of the San Francisco Cliff House, and more. At the time of the Wurlitzer's installation the Ruth & Sohn organ was sent to Stinson for restoration. A new facade was fabricated that features historical illustrations of the Beach Boardwalk as well as figures playing drums. The Ruth & Sohn organ returned to the Boardwalk in October 2008. The Boardwalk also owns a Wurlitzer Style 146 band organ and plans to have it restored as well.

Friday, June 19, 2009

San Francisco ~ The City by the Bay

San Francisco, that city by the bay, where many hearts have been left- or so goes the song. We found it a lovely city and certainly very photogenic!. The most recognizable landmarks here, aside from the bay itself, are of course the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Cable Cars. Of course we had to drive across the Golden Gate at least once. No toll to drive north but to come back it is a $6.00 toll per car. Or you could stay in Sausalito!
And how can you visit San Francisco without riding the famous Cable Cars. We rode from Wharf to downtown, then back again on the alternate route ( resulting in having to walk some 5 blocks uphill to our car) If you want to get good photos, my advise is to take the standing position on either side, suck in, hold tight with one hand and fire away! Thats what I did, and I was able to get some pretty good shots! So without further delay- here is our November Obscura view of San Francisco- with a little history mixed in!

The City and County of San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the 13th most populous city in the United States, with a 2008 estimated population of 808,976. It is the second most densely populated major city in the U.S. and is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the larger San Francisco Bay Area, a region of more than seven million people. The city is located at the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Francisco Bay to the north and east.
In 1776, the Spanish established a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named for Francis of Assisi. The California Gold Rush in 1848 propelled the city into a period of rapid growth, transforming it into the largest city on the West Coast at the time. After being devastated by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. During World War II, San Francisco was the send-off point for many soldiers to the Pacific Theater. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, and other factors gave rise to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a liberal bastion in the United States.
Today, San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, and Chinatown.

The earliest archaeological evidence of inhabitation of the territory of the city of San Francisco dates to 3000 BC. People of the Ohlone language group occupied Northern California from at least the 6th century. Though their territory had been claimed by Spain since the early 16th century, they would have relatively little contact with Europeans until 1769, when, as part of an effort to colonize Alta California, an exploration party led by Don Gaspar de Portola learned of the existence of San Francisco Bay. Seven years later, in 1776, an expedition led by Juan Bautista de Anza selected the site for the Presidio of San Francisco, which Jose Joaquin Moraga would soon establish. Later the same year, the Franciscan missionary Francisco Palou founded the Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores). The Yelamu tribal group of the Ohlone, who had had several villages in the area, were among those brought to live and work at the mission and be converted into the Catholic faith.

Upon independence from Spain in 1821, the area became part of Mexico. Under Mexican rule, the mission system gradually ended and its lands began to be privatized. In 1835, Englishman William Richardson erected the first independent homestead, near a boat anchorage around what is today Portsmouth Square. Together with Alcalde Francisco de Haro, he laid out a street plan for the expanded settlement, and the town, named Yerba Buena, began to attract American settlers. Commodore John D. Sloat claimed California for the United States on July 7, 1846, during the Mexican-American War, and Captain John B. Montgomery arrived to claim Yerba Buena two days later. Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco the next year, and Mexico officially ceded the territory to the United States at the end of the war. Despite its attractive location as a port and naval base, San Francisco was still a small settlement with inhospitable geography.

The California Gold Rush brought a flood of treasure seekers. With their sourdough bread in tow,prospectors accumulated in San Francisco over rival Benicia raising the population from 1,000 in 1848 to 25,000 by December 1849. The promise of fabulous riches was so strong that crews on arriving vessels deserted and rushed off to the gold fields, leaving behind a forest of masts in San Francisco harbor. California was quickly granted statehood, and the U.S. military built Fort Point at the Golden Gate and a fort on Alcatraz Island to secure the San Francisco Bay. Silver discoveries, including the Comstock Lode in 1859, further drove rapid population growth. With hordes of fortune seekers streaming through the city, lawlessness was common, and the Barbary Coast section of town gained notoriety as a haven for criminals, prostitution, and gambling.
Entrepreneurs sought to capitalize on the wealth generated by the Gold Rush. Early winners were the banking industry, which saw the founding of Wells Fargo in 1852, and the railroad industry, as the magnates of the Big Four, led by Leland Stanford, collaborated in the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad.

The development of the Port of San Francisco established the city as a center of trade. Catering to the needs and tastes of the growing population, Levi Strauss opened a dry goods business and Domingo Ghirardelli began manufacturing chocolate. Immigrant laborers made the city a polyglot culture, with Chinese railroad workers creating the city's Chinatown quarter. The first cable cars carried San Franciscans up Clay Street in 1873. The city's sea of Victorian houses began to take shape, and civic leaders campaigned for a spacious public park, resulting in plans for Golden Gate Park. San Franciscans built schools, churches, theaters, and all the hallmarks of civic life. The Presidio developed into the most important American military installation on the Pacific coast. By the turn of the century, San Francisco was a major city known for its flamboyant style, stately hotels, ostentatious mansions on Nob Hill, and a thriving arts scene.

"Not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone." – Jack London after the 1906 earthquake and fire
At 5:12 am on April 18, 1906, a major earthquake struck San Francisco and northern California. As buildings collapsed from the shaking, ruptured gas lines ignited fires that would spread across the city and burn out of control for several days. With water mains out of service, the Presidio Artillery Corps attempted to contain the inferno by dynamiting blocks of buildings to create firebreaks. More than three-quarters of the city lay in ruins, including almost all of the downtown core.Contemporary accounts reported that 498 people lost their lives, though modern estimates put the number in the several thousands. More than half the city's population of 400,000 were left homeless. Refugees settled temporarily in makeshift tent villages in Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, on the beaches, and elsewhere. Many fled permanently to the East Bay.

Rebuilding was rapid and performed on a grand scale. Rejecting calls to completely remake the street grid, San Franciscans opted for speed. Amadeo Giannini's Bank of Italy, later to become Bank of America, provided loans for many of those whose livelihoods had been devastated. The destroyed mansions of Nob Hill became grand hotels. City Hall rose once again in splendorous Beaux Arts style, and the city celebrated its rebirth at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915.

During World War II, the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard became a hub of activity, and Fort Mason became the primary port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater of Operations. The explosion of jobs drew many people, especially African Americans from the South, to the area. After the end of the war, many military personnel returning from service abroad and civilians who had originally come to work decided to stay. The UN Charter creating the United Nations was drafted and signed in San Francisco in 1945 and, in 1951, the Treaty of San Francisco officially ended the war with Japan.

Urban planning projects in the 1950s and 1960s saw widespread destruction and redevelopment of west side neighborhoods and the construction of new freeways, of which only a series of short segments were built before being halted by citizen-led opposition. The Transamerica Pyramid was completed in 1972, and in the 1980s the Manhattanization of San Francisco saw extensive high-rise development downtown. Port activity moved to Oakland, the city began to lose industrial jobs, and San Francisco began to turn to tourism as the most important segment of its economy. The suburbs experienced rapid growth, and San Francisco underwent significant demographic change, as large segments of the white population left the city, supplanted by an increasing wave of immigration from Asia and Latin America. Over this same period, San Francisco became a magnet for America's counterculture. Beat Generation writers fueled the San Francisco Renaissance and centered on the North Beach neighborhood in the 1950s. Hippies flocked to Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s, reaching a peak with the 1967 Summer of Love. In the 1970s, the city became a center of the gay rights movement, with the emergence of The Castro as an urban gay village, the election of Harvey Milk to the Board of Supervisors, and his assassination, along with that of Mayor George Moscone, in 1978
The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused destruction and loss of life throughout the Bay Area. In San Francisco, the quake severely damaged structures in the Marina and South of Market districts and precipitated the demolition of the damaged Embarcadero Freeway and much of the damaged Central Freeway, allowing the city to reclaim its historic downtown waterfront.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chinatown ~ San Francisco

We went through Chinatown twice. Once by car and again by Cable Car. Chinatown seems to be in an especially hilly part of the city, and although the streets were lined with parked cars, and there was plenty of traffic, it seemed like everyone was on foot. We cruised through first on a Sunday morning and there were hundreds of people walking and shopping.  The shop keepers would call out their wares in a sing song tone in Chinese- only to be answered by the shop keeper on the opposite side of the street. Most everyone who had a bag, had the same pinky salmon color shopping bags. Click HERE  for some history about one of Chinatowns most notorious Madames. Here are some Chinatown photos and below, a little history on this unique place!

San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America. It is also the largest Chinese community outside of Asia, according to The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropaedia vol. 10, 2007 Ed. Established in the 1850s, it has featured significantly in popular culture venues such as film, music, photography and literature. It is one of the largest and most prominent centers of Chinese activity outside of China.
After nearly two decades of decline due to the emergence of other large Chinese communities in the Richmond and Sunset Districts of San Francisco, and possibly from the revitalization of Oakland's Chinatown only 10 mi (16 km) away — and from the development of Asian shopping centers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, it has been experiencing an economic upturn in recent years. Even during bad times, it has always remained a major tourist attraction — drawing more visitors than the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco's Chinatown was the port of entry for early Taishanese and Zhongshanese Chinese immigrants from the southern Guangdong province of China from the 1850s to the 1900s. The area was the one geographical region deeded by the city government and private property owners which allowed Chinese persons to inherit and inhabit dwellings within the city. The majority of these Chinese shopkeepers, restaurant owners, and hired workers in San Francisco Chinatown were predominantly Taishanese and male. Many Chinese found jobs working for large companies seeking a source of cheap labor, most famously as part of Central Pacific on the Transcontinental Railroad. Other early immigrants worked as mine workers or independent prospectors hoping to strike it rich during the 1849 Gold Rush.
With massive national unemployment in the wake of the Panic of 1873, racial tensions in the city boiled over into full blown race riots. In response to the racial violence, the Consolidated Chinese Benevolent Association or the Chinese Six Companies, which evolved out of the labor recruiting organizations for different areas of Guangdong, was created as a means of providing the community with a unified voice. The heads of these companies were the leaders of the Chinese merchants, who represented the Chinese community in front of the business community as a whole and the city government.
The xenophobia, or fear of foreigners (in this case the Chinese), became law as the United States Government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 – the first immigration restriction law aimed at a single ethnic group. This law, along with other immigration restriction laws such as the Geary Act, greatly reduced the numbers of Chinese allowed into the country and the city, and in theory limited Chinese immigration to single males only. Exceptions were in fact granted to the families of wealthy merchants, but the law was still effective enough to reduce the population of the neighborhood to an all time low in the 1920s. The exclusion act was repealed during World War II under the Magnuson Act in recognition of the important role of China as an ally in the war, although tight quotas still applied.

Not unlike much of San Francisco, a period of criminality ensued in some tongs on the produce of smuggling, gambling and prostitution, and by the early 1880s, the white population had adopted the term Tong war to describe periods of violence in Chinatown, the San Francisco Police Department had established its so-called Chinatown Squad. One of the more successful sergeants, Jack Manion, was appointed in 1921 and served for two decades. The squad was finally disbanded in August 1955 by Police Chief George Healey, upon the request of the influential Chinese World newspaper, which had editorialized that the squad was an "affront to Americans of Chinese descent". The neighborhood was completely destroyed in the 1906 earthquake that leveled most of the city. During the city's rebuilding process, racist city planners and real-estate developers had hatched plans to move Chinatown to the Hunters Point neighborhood at the southern edge of the city, even further south in Daly City, or even back to China; and the neighborhood would then be absorbed into the financial district. Their plans failed as the Chinese, particularly with the efforts of Consolidated Chinese Six companies, the Chinese government, and American commercial interests reclaimed the neighborhood and convinced the city government to relent. Part of their efforts in doing so was to plan and rebuild the neighborhood as a western friendly tourist attraction. The rebuilt area that is seen today, resembles such plans.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Carousel in Golden Gate Park~ San Francisco

Of all the things that we saw and photographed on our trip, this was my favorite. I have adored Carousels since I was a little girl. One day I hope to own my own Carousel animal. I could not wait to ride it, and was able to get Jeff on board as well. I rode a horse, he kept to a Tub and took some black and White film shots which we do not yet have printed. If Jeff would have seen this fabulous Lion, he would have rode it I am sure, but we didn't see him until after we rode and walked around shooting pictures rapidly before more riders came on. I could have rode this for hours and would have liked to photograph every animal on it, except that other people wanted to ride and as you may have noticed I don't like people in my photos. I do my best to shoot around them but sometimes it can't be helped.

Here is some information on the Carousel from the National Carousel Association

Description: Herschell-Spillman
Carousel Class: Classic Wood Carousel
Last Update: 2006
Status: Active
Model: menagerie
Year Built: 1914
Type: 4 rows, Park, All Wood composition
Figures: 28 Jumping Horses, 10 Standing Horses, 24 Menagerie Animals (1 Tiger, 1 Lion, 1 Giraffe, 1 Stork, 1 Deer, 1 Goat, 1 Camel, 1 Dragon, 2 Frogs, 2 Cats, 2 Zebras, 2 Dogs, 2 Roosters, 2 Mules, 2 Ostriches, 2 Pigs), 2 chariots, 2 Tubs
Music: Band Organ: Gebrueder-Bruder #107-52 keyless
Comments: A Dentzel goat is onboard this carousel. Additional information is needed.
History: Lincoln Park, Los Angeles, CA, 1914 to 1931
Lotus Isle, Portland, OR, 1931 to 1933
World's Fair - Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA, 1939 to 1940
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 1940 to present

Alcatraz Island

Before this trip, I had been to San Francisco one other time. One of the things I remember most from that first trip was my visit to Alcatraz and the former prison there. Jeff and I booked ourselves on a boat for the tour, and as luck would have it on the Monday morning that we went the weather was great, perfect for taking photos. I have several memories of that first trip to Alcatraz, but one thing I seemed to have forgotten was that once you dock on the island, it is a half mile uphill to the prison building and the tour. Likely this is due to the fact that I was 15 on that first trip and probably didn't notice the uphill walk. This time it was a little more trying! They also have a nice audio tour and you can take as many photos as you please. Below I have included a little history of Alcatraz. We hope you enjoy our photos.

The first Spaniard to discover the island was Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775, who charted San Francisco Bay and named the island "La Isla de los Alcatraces," which translates as "The Island of the Pelicans," from the archaic Spanish alcatraz, "pelican", a word which was borrowed originally from Arabic: القطرس al-qaṭrās, meaning sea eagle. It is home to the now-abandoned prison, the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the west coast of the United States, early military fortifications, and natural features such as rock pools, a seabird colony (mostly Western Gulls, cormorants, and egrets), and unique views of the coastline.

Alcatraz Island, commonly referred to as simply Alcatraz or locally as The Rock, is a small island located in the middle of San Francisco Bay in California, United States. It served as a lighthouse, then a military fortification, then a military prison followed by a federal prison until 1963. It became a national recreation area in 1972 and received landmarking designations in 1976 and 1986.
Today, the island is an historic site operated by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is open to tours. Visitors can reach the island by ferry ride from Pier 33, near Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.

The first Spaniard to discover the island was Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775, who charted San Francisco Bay and named the island "La Isla de los Alcatraces," which translates as "The Island of the Pelicans," from the archaic Spanish alcatraz, "pelican", a word which was borrowed originally from Arabic: القطرس al-qaṭrās, meaning sea eagle. It is home to the now-abandoned prison, the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the west coast of the United States, early military fortifications, and natural features such as rock pools, a seabird colony (mostly Western Gulls, cormorants, and egrets), and unique views of the coastline.

Due to its isolation from the outside by the cold, strong, hazardous currents of the waters of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz was used to house Civil War prisoners as early as 1861. In 1898, the Spanish-American war would increase the prison population from 26 to over 450. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, civilian prisoners were transferred to Alcatraz for safe confinement. By 1912 there was a large cellhouse, and in the 1920s a large 3-story structure was nearly at full capacity. The United States Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz was acquired by the United States Department of Justice on October 12, 1933, and the island became a federal prison in August 1934. During the 29 years it was in use, the jail held such notable criminals as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), Jose Sierra, Jim Quillen, James "Whitey" Bulger and Alvin Karpis, who served more time at Alcatraz than any other inmate. It also provided housing for the Bureau of Prison staff and their families.

Robert Stroud, who was better known to the public as the "Birdman of Alcatraz," was transferred to Alcatraz in 1942. He spent the next seventeen years on "the Rock" — six years in segregation in D Block, and eleven years in the prison hospital. In 1959 he was transferred to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri (MCFP Springfield).
When Al Capone arrived on Alcatraz in 1934, prison officials made it clear that he would not be receiving any preferential treatment. While serving his time in Atlanta, Capone, a master manipulator, had continued running his rackets from behind bars by buying off guards. "Big Al" generated incredible media attention while on Alcatraz though he served just four and a half years of his sentence there before developing symptoms of tertiary syphilis and being transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island in Los Angeles.

George "Machine Gun" Kelly arrived on September 4, 1934. At Alcatraz, Kelly was constantly boasting about several robberies and murders that he had never committed. Although this was said to be an apparent point of frustration for several fellow prisoners, Warden Johnson considered him a model inmate. Kelly was returned to Leavenworth in 1951.
James 'Whitey' Bulger spent 3 years on Alcatraz (1959-1962) while serving a sentence for bank robbery. While there, he became close to Clarence Carnes, also known as the Choctaw Kid.
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