My Top 6 SF Myths

Transamerica Pyramid
1. That Mark Twain said: “The coldest winter I spent was a summer in San Francisco.” While true in its meaning, he never wrote it about San Francisco, unless, of course, you’re thinking about Paris.

2. That there are 7 hills in SF. There’s far more.

3. That there are no straight men in SF. 500 posts in “men seeking women” in craigslist, for today (8/29). Seems like quite a lot to me.

4. Various Chinatown myths:
more on my myth-debunking…

4.1. I encounter people who go, “Is this what it’s really like in China?” And I try to explain that it’s actually a colonial version, from the pre-Mao period. So, Chinatown: Beijing, is like Savannah GA to New York City. Twang and all.
4.2 That Chinatown holistically began that way- in reality it was a ghetto due to various racist exclusion laws.
4.3 Chinatown architecture reflects Chinese taste. It was actually commissioned by Chinese nationalists but they used white architects and their impressions of what would be a successful tourist trap. It was a scheme to prevent Chinatown from moving to Hunter’s Point after the 1906 Earthquake.
4.4 Chinatown is the most dense (and claimed by wikipedia, largest in the West) … Chinese residential area… I’d wager that the Sunset District, Cupertino, in the south bay, have a higher density, and over a larger land mass. Vancouver has us beat, hands down. Larger population and higher percentage, from my calcuation.

5. Soju, sochu, shochu…. I keep hearing people say that the reason soju is served with beer/wine licenses, is because it’s an Asian wine (vs. liquor). Truth: Some Korean restaurants were serving it and they didn’t know (yeah, right…) it was against their license. There is a limit on the alcoholic % in SF, though. So the powers that be allowed it. Nice!

6. I always thought this- that Bank of America was the tallest building. I lost this bet in a sad, sad, face-losing loss. T-Pid has Bofa beat by like a few meters of pure antennae wire. See, still bitter. T-Pid: 260 meters (853 feet). Bofa: Height, 236,8m / 779ft

Please contribute and add your own- or correct me on mine!

P.S. #7 almost forgot this one: myth: that Joe DiMaggio & Marilyn Monroe were married at St. Peter and Paul on Washington Park. Wrong- they were married at City Hall but photographed here. They couldn’t marry inside because both were divorced. He did marry his first wife there.

21 Comments so far

  1. Victoria E (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 7:14 pm

    I had someone tell me that same Mark Twain quote this weekend – now I know it is bunk :D I’ve also seen it in a number of travel books; dang folks, get your facts straight!


  2. cd (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 9:41 pm

    You’re right, it’s Rome which has 7 hills.

    And isn’t Savannah in Georgia, not North Carolina (if that was your implication, otherwise, I’m just confused by the structure).


  3. tyler (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

    t- pid?? ohhh that is so un- becoming. were you born and raised in SF? if not.. you have no right to rename landmarks! ;-) it’s the transamerica pyramid, or, simply, the pyramid. nobody calls it t-pid.. it sounds like an abbreviation for toilet paper. I mean.. why don’t we just call the golden gate bridge the gridge???? or coit tower toit? sorry, these things just bother me. signed- a nitpicker


  4. Mark (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 10:20 pm

    “Gridge” — ha ha! I could see calling the Bay Bridge the Buh-Bridge. Actually, no I couldn’t.

    I’m going to call the Financial District the Finch-drict.


  5. anna (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 11:39 pm

    thanks CD- corrected!


  6. anna (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 11:47 pm

    What about the Grinch, vs. Gridge? I really wanted to write t-(delta sign) but couldn’t figure out how to do it on this here interwebs.

    coit + tower = cower
    ferry+ building = felding
    market + street = meat


  7. joe (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 11:00 am

    Cupertino has a higher population density than Chinatown? Sunset district?
    Nah, population density is highest in Chinatown.
    Per the official census tracts:
    Tract 114 Pacific/Kearny/Clay/Stockton 96k people per sq mile
    Tract 113 Pacific/Stockton/Calif./Powell/Washington/Mason 81k ppsm
    Tract 118 Clay/Kearny/Calif./Stockton 73k ppsm.

    Good luck trying to find those numbers anywhere in CA outside of portions of LA.


  8. anna (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 11:12 am

    Well, it says on wikipedia “largest Chinatown” and it doesn’t say what that means- Vancouver, with 2.3M people and over 20% asian seems higher population of ethnically chinese. Cupertino with 90% or so Chinese at a populataion of 52K is “more Chinese”- and larger in square footage of course, than Chinatown. Not talking population density, but Chinese ethnicity saturation.


  9. tyler (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

    …besides… everybody in sf knows that the pyramid is the tallest building.. I’ve never talked to somebody who actually thought BofA was tallest. It’s common San Franciscan knowledge… and it’s not because of antannae wire, the pyramid has no antennae on top, just bright shiny beacon, lik ethey had in Atlantis.


  10. Joe (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 12:54 pm

    Vancouver the city has 541k people per the last census – not sure where you are getting the 2 million figure from. Maybe the metro area?
    If thats the case then you should include the almost 8 million SF metro as well.


  11. anna (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

    Joe- you’re right, looks like vancouver met area is 20% at a smaller population, 2M, whereas we are 30% with a 7+ population.

    I think what threw me off was the undefined idea of a “chinatown” and ours being largest. The Clement street neighborhood seems larger to me, as does areas of Fremont and Cupertino as a city-whole.


  12. DK (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

    I can’t believe someone actually thought the BofA building was taller than the Pyramid!


  13. cd (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 9:45 pm

    An Asian population does not equal a Chinese population – so whatever the percentage of Asian population in Cupertino is doesn’t seem to compute.

    As for the building battle – I think the argument stems from the fact that one building is on a hill and one isn’t, right? I thought it was a long running debate. But I don’t weigh in on the merits.

    And as for the T-pid thing – Anna, girl, I love your posts, but please: Stop. Renaming. Things. For the love of all things holy. No shortening, no combining, no searching for that clever new handle. Tradition – embrace it, love it, repeat it.


  14. Lauren (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 10:07 pm

    CD: I love ya!


  15. anna (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 11:45 pm

    CD: relax.


  16. psb (unregistered) on August 31st, 2006 @ 1:15 am

    no stright men: that is presumably a COMPLAINT
    not a statement of fact, so it cant really be
    called true or false.

    7 hills of SF: that is also a CONVENTION, not a
    statement of geographic fact. rome has more than
    7 hills too [pincian and janiculum] but there are
    “7 standard hills”. so also not subject to
    being called true/false.

    some state lawmaker got made a change to have soju
    convered by the beer-wine license due to being
    lobbied by korean food establishments who claimed
    it was important to the “experience” to be able
    to server soju … and they were more restaurant-
    like than bar like. so they were able to serve
    this with the couple-of-hundred dollar beer+wine
    lic and dint have to cough up +$10k for a full
    liquor lic. however apparently the law didnt
    require you to have anything to do with korea
    to take advantage of this … and voila, the
    market for soju cocktails was born.

    ok tnx.


  17. cd (unregistered) on August 31st, 2006 @ 7:19 am

    PSB – I’m pretty sure the conventional “7 Hills Of” belongs to Rome which has 7 named areas in relation to its 7 main hills.

    And I don’t think “fact” equals “myth” so no one said it was factual that there are no straight men here, rather, it’s the convention – the myth – of San Francisco.


  18. Kathy Me (unregistered) on August 31st, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

    I just remember what the acronym P.I.D. stands for – “pelvic inflammatory disease”. I support the nicknames, but I can’t get behind the T-Pid.


  19. Kathy Me (unregistered) on August 31st, 2006 @ 5:13 pm

    I just remembered what the acronym P.I.D. stands for – “pelvic inflammatory disease”. I support the nicknames, but I can’t get behind the T-Pid.


  20. anna (unregistered) on September 1st, 2006 @ 2:07 pm

    PID… Process identifier…

    I’d like to clarify that I was using t-pid as an abbreviation written, not as a nickname spoken. And y’all know what I meant, since nobody asked about what strange building I had suddenly introduced in the article. At one extreme, we write truly cryptic chats in YIM:
    “yo check the washers t-pid, dood, woot!.” Silly bad teenage writing, perhaps, whereas what I would say verbally: “There are some amazing window washers up on the Pyramid, right now. Neat!” Perhaps it’s carpal tunnel and sneaking in chats at work, I don’t know.

    Least favorite abbreviation when spoken: “double-you, double-you, double-you” which has more syllables, than just saying “world wide web”. Ex-bf says: “dub dub dub”, spoken, which makes me want to take this here interwebs and go rub-a-dubbin’. Now, I dont say verbally “ex-bf!” I say “that snarky two-timing bastard.”


  21. Richard Ault (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2006 @ 12:25 pm

    T-Pid?!?!? Sitting here scratching my head thinking, did P-Diddy commission a new high rise in SF or something?



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