Human beings excel at constructing their own restrictions.
We have jobs to do, bills to pay, tasks to perform, obligations to keep, rules to obey, To Do Lists to complete, and a Monday-Friday, 9-5 routine (although in the tech world, that’s more like 7-7, and frequently on Saturday, too). As we weren’t conflicted enough, human beings also have an urge to escape, to get away from it all. But we can’t really escape escape; too many jobs, bills, tasks, obligations, rules, To Do Lists, and that Monday-Friday routine.
But we can get away.
Which brings me to South Park, San Francisco’s oldest public park.
Our South Park has absolutely no connection to that other South Park, no connection at all.
OK, maybe there exists a little connection. San Francisco’s South Park takes up perhaps an acre of land bordered by Bryant, Brannan, Second and Third Streets, and has existed since at least 1855 (six years after Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill). Modeled on the English style of public park by George Gorden, an English entrepreneur (go figure), South Park is carefully manicured and maintained for human use, unlike Grand View which is mostly wild and highly restricted, or Land’s End, which is mostly wild and totally unrestricted.
South Park became Ground Zero for the Dot Com Boom of the 1990s, surrounded by tech firms, which also means it became Ground Zero for the Dot Com Bomb of 2000-2001, surrounded by tech firms gone bust. Today South Park is one of many Ground Zeros for the Dot Com Boom v. 2.0, surrounded by new tech firms, and I keep my fingers crossed that history does not repeat itself.
But until history repeats itself, South Park will remain the location of the weekly Friday lunch hour escape. If you can’t escape your job, you can still manage to get away for an hour. Friday May 17, 2013 was a perfect day for an end-of-the-week getaway, with a better than perfect microclimate: sun if you wanted to absorb some rays, but not too hot; or shade if you wanted that, but not too cold.
A multitude of restaurants ring the park, and many escapees got their food to go from these establishments. Some took their meals to the park, some ate at the outdoors tables.
And if you want to get away from the getaway, you can always rent a bicycle.
South Park also has a great children’s playground. This dad looked like he needed it more than his offspring:
Ironically, some people came to South Park to work during the lunch hour: a corporate photographer, his assistant and their client; also, some kind of two-camera shoot.
Just a quiet and calm little getaway oasis when we need to get away to an oasis.
Vonn Scott Bair