Leidesdorff Street, mixed media photo collage on board, 14”x11”
I still remember the first time I arrived in San Francisco. Coming across the Bay Bridge and seeing the Transamerica Pyramid for the first time — at 11 years old, it made a big impression. It is a 1970s skyscraper, that in the 21st Century, still feels modern and not all dated. The Pyramid was built on the edge of the Financial District surrounded by historic buildings, some that even survived the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. It is a unique neighborhood for San Francisco with many small quiet streets and alleys that are more typical in much older cities. If it were 1848, the Pyramid would have sat just off the waters edge. Eventually land was filled in and the waterfront is now five blocks to the east. The neighborhood is built over the remains of ships that were abandoned by their crews in the rush to get to the gold fields.
At 11 years old, little did I imagine that, 16 years later, I would work in the shadow of the Pyramid. One of the things that made my boring job bearable was not being stuck in some sterile office building. I worked in buildings with some history and even a few ghosts. Spending time down there, made me want to learn more about the City’s history. Leidesdorff was an unusual name and I wondered whom that street was named for. William Leidesdorff was a remarkable and quintessential San Franciscan. He was a multi-ethnic, immigrant who was the citizen of three countries. Leidesdorff was a successful entrepreneur who started the first regular steamboat service across the Bay, built the first hotel and operated a warehouse in a spot at the water’s edge that was to become Leidesdorff Street (more about Leidesdorff can be found here).
This layered Time Travel Photo illustrates the present and the natural past and also few layers in between.