Here’s the View of Bernal Hill from the Other End of South Van Ness

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Yesterday I went to a meeting at 1455 Market Street, a big high-rise right at the corner of Market and 11th Street. The office was in one of the building’s upper stories, and it had incredible views of Our Faire City.

As I gazed south, I realized I was staring straight down South Van Ness to Bernal Hill, which looked particularly rakish and handsome.

In other words, I was basically eye-to-eye with Bernal Hill from a vantage point directly opposite those stone benches at the curve in the closed section of Bernal Heights Boulevard. You know… the ones that look straight up South Van Ness. Because when you sit on one of those benches, here’s what you see:

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That’s South Van Ness slicing through the center, and the photo at the top of this post was taken from the building highlighted by the arrow.

To see both vantage points, let’s take in the view from the Bernalwood SkyCam:

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Bonus Fun Fact! As the crow flies, the distance between the benches on Bernal Hill and 1455 Market is about 11,427 feet, or 2.16 miles.

And now you know how we look from that distance when workers inside 1455 Market look back (enviously) at us.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics. Aerial image courtesy of Google Earth

Here’s How Jenni Sparks Drew Bernal Heights In Her Insanely Detailed Map of San Francisco

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Artist Jenni Sparks has created a very cool new map of San Francisco, and The Bold Italic gives it a shout out:

London-based artist and map-maker Jenni Sparks just released an insanely detailed hand-drawn map of San Francisco. Like, so detailed I expected to zoom in on 14th and Church to find an adorable rendering of the time I fell so hard crossing the street that my shoes fell off.

The map took months to complete (obviously), and is the fourth map Jenni has drawn in collaboration with Evermade, following London, New York, and Berlin. The prints are 2 ft. by 2 ft.

The map goes on sale today, and you can buy one right here.

Because we are glamorous and vain, Bernalwood wrote to Jenni Sparks to request a detail of Bernal Heights. Because Jenni Sparks understands this about us, she kindly passed it along. So here is Bernal Heights, as seen in Jenni’s fabulous new map:

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Purists will grumble that the BART line is positioned a little too far to the west, and our defensive freeway perimeter has gone missing, but Bernalwood will gladly overlook all that in the name of artistic license and general maptastic awesomeness.

Plus, Silver Crest Donut Shop! And I can totally see my house.

Thanks for sharing, Jenni!

MAP IMAGES: Courtesy of Jenni Sparks

Aerial Photo Highlights Our Fabulous Sign on Bernal Hill

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Last weekend, Neighbor kc! went for an aerial jaunt in the skies above Bernal Heights. Looking down on our faire neighborhood from his lofty perch at 2000 feet, kc! captured a wonderful shot of the Bernalwood sign that broadcasts our identity to aviators and urbanites alike.

Let’s zoom and enhance for a better view:

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Amazing!  Even from waaaaaaay way way up there in the heavens, we still look… ridiculously glamorous.

UPDATE! Goddamn rotten punk kids…

PHOTO: Neighbor kc!

Neighbor Goes for Walk on Lost Streets of Bernal’s Yesteryear

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Bernal neighbor Michael Nolan has been here for many hundreds of moons, but he recently went for a short walk around west Bernal that sent him even farther back in time:

I walked down Heyman this morning en route to boot camp. It’s a block long street stretching from Prospect Ave. to Coleridge (formerly California), and just south of Virginia. We live here in West Bernal in the Heyman Subdivision of the Cobb Tract of Precita Valley Lands, once part of Jose Bernal’s rancho. I live on Elsie Street (formerly Cherubusco) which lies between and parallel to Bonview (formerly Buena Vista) and Winfield (formerly Chapultepec). Your corrections and amplifications of this history will be appreciated and acknowledged.

A quick comparison of maps old and new verifies many details of Neighbor Michael’s stroll down History Lane(s).

Here’s a west Bernal detail from the 1869 map. Notice Cobb Tract superimposed above the western end of Cortland (which, oddly, is spelled “Courtland,” but only east of North Ave., or modern-day Bocana):

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Compare that with 2014, courtesy of the Google:

2014map.westbernal What’s up with the Cobb’s Tract business? The lovely Tramps of San Francisco blog ‘splains for us:

The first land sold in Bernal Heights had been transferred by auction at the real estate offices of H.A. Cobb and R.H. Sinton, 102 Montgomery Street, on July 14, 1860. The property consisted of “4, 5, and 6 acre lots on the ‘Bernal Heights’ …  within 15 minutes drive from City Hall … for sale at a very low rate … The lands, for beauty of locality, commanding scenery and fertility of soil, are not surpassed in the county of San Francisco.” In August 1865, another 66 homestead lots were offered in on the “Cobb Tract” of Bernal Heights and buyers were to receive title and a U.S. patent.

Verified!  Here’s an advert from the March 16, 1865 edition of the Daily Alta California:

In contemporary parlance, some might call H.A. Cobb a “speculator.” And the people who bought those homestead lots were “gentrifiers.” Especially if you were a displaced cow.

Anyway, It’s just a good thing Neighbor Michael wasn’t trying to meet his boot camp group at one of our many former California Avenues. He might never have found them.

If you enjoy fun with street history, our friends at the (awesome) Bernal History Project have complied a handy guide that explains where many of today’s Bernal streets got their names. To go even farther back, you’ll want peruse the top-secret spreadsheet Neighbor Michael keeps to track which of today’s Bernal streets used to be called something else. Want to see it? Just face toward Sutro Tower, chant the secret Bernalese password three times, and click here.

VINTAGE MAPS: 1869 map from the David Rumsey Map Collection, via Burrito Justice

Clever Map Reveals Geography of Bernal Heights Coffee Shops

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Some clever data-visualization geeks at MIT have created a very cool new map that reveals the social geography of San Francisco coffee shops. A Bernalwood-enhanced look at our portion of the map reveals which parts of Bernal align most organically with each of our local coffee shops:

This map shows the location of every independent coffee shop in San Francisco and the walking-shed community associated with it.

Independent coffee shops are positive markers of a living community. They function as social spaces, urban offices, and places to see the world go by. Communities are often formed by having spaces in which people can have casual interactions, and local and walkable coffee shops create those conditions, not only in the coffee shop themselves, but on the sidewalks around them. We use maps to know where these coffee shop communities exist and where, by placing new coffee shops, we can help form them.

We applied two steps to generate the data displayed by the map. First, we used the Google Places API to locate all coffee shops in a given city. Second, for each point in the map we queried the walking route and distance to its nearest coffee shop using the Google Distance Matrix API.

In the final map the colored areas represent a region which is walkable to a specific coffee shop (within one kilometer or 0.7 miles). The intensity of color at each point indicates its distance from its corresponding coffee shop.

Cool! But not perfect. The map was created by algorithms, not humans. So it reveals the logic of physical proximity, not social preference (thought the two often and naturally overlap). Also, the data might be a little old, because the transformative Cafe St. Jorge on Mission near Cortland is not present.

Nevertheless… cool!  Here’s how all of San Francisco looks without the Bernal annotations:

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Your Official Guide to the Real Microhoods of Bernal Heights

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Yesterday, realtor Eileen Bermingham posted an article about the geographic subregions that exist in Bernal Heights:

Bernal Heights has many distinct areas within its neighborhood. From the hip enclave of Precita Park to the winding streets on the East Slope, the price of real estate literally varies depending upon which part of Bernal you’re in. So it’s important to lean heavily on sales in your particular part of the neighborhood when you’re accurately trying to determine property values in Bernal.

To help buyers and sellers with that task, I’ve deconstructed Bernal Heights into seven unofficial microhoods, complete with their respective price averages and low/high prices, as well as recent sales volume.

In this way, we are introduced to the comparative charms (and average home prices) of such areas as “The North West Slope,” and “Precita Park,” and “South of Cortland.” Unfortunately, it made us feel so… commodified. Ew.

That said, the idea that Bernal Heights consists of several distinct microhoods actually makes a lot of sense. After all, Bernal is a neighborhood defined by its topography — Remember, our last name is “Heights!” — so there’s an intuitive logic to the notion that different parts of the hill have very different subcultures and identities. Yet we are far more than our cost per-square-foot; we are a federation of nooks and crannies shaped by timeless geological features, historical quirks, and neighborly idiosyncrasies.

So please allow us to propose this homegrown draft guide to the Subdistricts of Bernal Heights, produced in collaboration with Burrito Justice, chief spokesblogger for the La Lenguan separatists. To wit, and roughly clockwise from the map shown above:

Precitaville – With the Mission as a front yard, Precita Park as the living room, and Bernal Hill as a backyard playground, Precitaville is perhaps the most cosmopolitan part of Bernal Heights. Perhaps.

Santana Rancho – Carlos Santana used to live here; Janis Joplin used to party here. The steep slopes and meandering streets of Bernal’s northeast corner have made it a secret haven for generations of local artists, musicians, and eccentrics.

The Sutrito Canine Republic – Located atop Bernal Hill in a public park, The Sutrito Canine Republic is patrolled by packs of very happy dogs who frolic off-leash and worship the microwave antenna array mounted atop Sutrito Tower.

The Hill People of Powhattan – With their homes clustered around Powhattan Avenue in the high-altitude reaches of Bernal Hill’s southeastern quarter, the Hill People of Powhattan are easy to recognize: Just look for their massive, hill-toned calves and slightly elevated demeanor.

Alemanistan – Dry, rocky, and sun-baked, Alemanistan retains a wild, untamed feel. Perched in the shadow of the Spaghetti Bowl, at the crossroads of two major highways, this  is Bernal’s frontier borderland.

Cortlandia – The heart of Bernal’s historic commercial district has now become the ideal setting for a contemporary situation comedy about bourgoise-bohemian urban culture in the early years of the 21st century. Which is funny, except that it’s also rather lovely, and we are very lucky to have it. The residents of Cortlandia are justifiably quite proud of this.

Baja Cortlandia – Perhched just south and slightly below Cortland Avenue, Baja Cortlandia is scrappy place of haphazard hills, multigenerational residents, and intense, superhyperlocal pride.

Portola Norte – As if unfazed by the barrier created by an interstate freeway, this area of Bernal Heights  feels contiguous with the pre-gentrified ethos that prevails on the other side of I-280.

St. Mary’s Park – Developed during the 1920s on the site of the former St Mary’s College campus, this self-contained, bell-shaped enclave feels like a little slice of the Sunset District, right in our own corner of Bernal Heights.

Lost Tribe of College Hill – Separated from the Bernal heartland by Mission Street, yet isolated by freeways from Glen Park, College Hill’s de facto independence is symbolized by a recent redistricting that saw the area transferred to Supervisor Scott Wiener’s District 8.

Holly Park – This ancient district of Bernal Heights is home to one of San Francisco’s oldest parks and a covered reservoir that has long been the setting for much local scandal and drama.

Foggy Vista – Rising above Mission Street on Bernal’s west slope, the groovy people who live here enjoy a commanding view of Nature’s own lava lamp: the massive banks of fog that cascade over Twin Peaks. Residents eagerly await construction of the Esmeralda Funicular to facilitate transit to and from the bustling Mission Street corridor.

La Lengua Autonomous Zone – This territory has been an integral part of the Dominion of Bernalwood since the 19th century, but today the uppity people of La Lengua enjoy limited autonomy under the terms of the 2010 Proclamation to the Vassals of La Lengua.

The Principality of Chicken John – Though located within the territorial boundaries of Bernal Heights, Chicken John’s warehouse residential complex and bus depot on Cesar Chavez functions as a world unto itself. Operating under its own sovereign codes, aesthetics, and social norms, and with it’s own 4.5 star rating on Yelp, The Principality of Chicken John is, in effect, Bernal’s version of the Vatican.

Serpentinia – Named after a long-gone street that used to mirror Precita on the northern side of Army/Cesar Chavez,  Serpentinia is today defined by the major thoroughfare that now slices through its center. After decades of indifference and neglect, recent  infrastructure upgrades on Chavez may bring new cultural vitality to this region.

So there you have it. Neighborly comments, suggestions, rants, and proposed revisions  are most welcome, with an eye toward future iteration of this map.

REVISION NOTE: March 20: Based on comments provided by Bernal neighbors, the former “Outer Cortlandia” was  renamed “Baja Bernal,” and then renamed again to “Baja Cortlandia.” The map has also been updated to include this change.

Clever Infographic Shows Where Runners Run in Bernal Heights

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The FlowingData website just posted a set of spiffy infographics that visualize where people go running in a variety of fabulous cities:

A lot of people make their workouts public on a variety of services, so there’s definitely accessible data. I use RunKeeper for cycling. I sampled from there.

The maps below are what I got, mostly for American cities, but there are a few European cities in there too (alphabetical order). If there’s one quick (and expected) takeaway, it’s that people like to run by the water and in parks, probably to get away from cars and the scenery.

So, this is New York City:

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And this is Paris:

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Bernalwood is vain and narcissistic, so we just had to zoom and enhance to create a map that’s all about us.  So where do people who like to run like to run in Bernal Heights?

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Mostly, around Bernal Hill, via Folsom from Cesar Chavez. Some enjoy the Esmeralda stairs. Precita carries a lot of east-west traffic. The hardcores loop around both Holly Park and Bernal Hill.

MAPS: via FlowingData