A Sense Of Place: Fort Mason

Originally posted on Writing In The Night (June 27, 2014)

Those who know me know I value my day trips.

Writing is a solitary business. Most of my time is spent at a desk, swigging cold coffee and tossing back Ibuprofen to combat lower back pain. What can I say? It ain’t always sexy, folks.

Which is why I seize any excuse I can to venture out into, you know, The Real World.

I’m fortunate to live near the city that has become my Muse. San Francisco is one hell of a town. Every time I go there (which I do, as often as time and gas prices permit), I discover something new, something wonderful, something that would be perfect in a book.

One of my recent trips took me to Fort Mason. This old Army installation is located on the waterfront at the edge of The Marina district.

Today, the old officers’ quarters have been transformed into rent-able living spaces and a youth hostel. There is also a lovely community garden (this is San Francisco, remember?)

But the coolest part of the trip? Check this out (below): the abandoned entrance to the old San Francisco Belt Railway! I read about this online, and it was the main reason I wanted to check out Fort Mason. Well, I found it, and yes, it’s every bit as awesome as I thought it would be!


Now, I’m what you might charitably call a “geek,” especially when it comes to history. I’ve also traveled a fair bit. Most other cities I’ve visited are purely modern creations. History is bulldozed, paved over, shoved aside. While in many cases this makes perfect economic sense, it is, nonetheless, sad.

San Francisco is one of those magical places that hasn’t tried to hide or cover up its colorful past. Rather than pave over history, the modern city of San Francisco is literally built around it.

You see it in obvious things, such as the still-functioning street cars and the obviously-old buildings. But you can also see it in more subtle touches, such as the long-obsolete etchings in the sidewalks on Market Street that mark where telegraph lines used to run.

With so many layers to peel back, I doubt I’ll be running out of inspiration -or excuses to visit- anytime soon.

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