How to Find Bernal Heights While Orbiting in Outer Space

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This week, astronaut Scott Kelly flattered all of us in the City and County of San Francisco by tweeting a realtime photo while he passed overhead in the International Space Station:

It’s a lovely image, but astute astrocartographers may notice that the right edge of the photo stops just short of Bernal Heights. We’re not in the shot. Grrrrrr.

Nevertheless, according to every magazine your Bernalwood editor read as a child, we all will have the opportunity to orbit Earth from the safety and comfort of a fabulous space station, someday.

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And when that day comes, you should know how to look down from the lofty heights of outer space and quickly find the soils of your terrestrial homeland here in Bernal Heights.

Locating Bernal Heights from outer space is actually pretty easy. The trick is to know what local landmarks to look for.

Bernal Heights sits roughly at the intersection of two imaginary, perpendicular lines that extend from Islais Creek Channel to the east of Bernal Heights and Aquatic Park to the north. Both of these have a distinctive, easy-to-spot profile when viewed from above, so just find the intersection where the lines come together and then… hey, you have located your home, Earth creature:

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Ready to practice? Here’s another view from the ISS.

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Let’s zoom and enhance:

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Final image; Challenge level, with no gridlines.

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Did you find our glamorous Bernal territories?

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Great! You now have The Right Stuff. Just strap on your guitar, and you’re ready for orbit:

PHOTO: Top, San Francisco as seen by Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in January 2015. 

Which of These Murals Should Help Visitors Discover Bernal’s Lost Tribe of College Hill?

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The  Bernalese peoples from the Lost Tribe of College Hill hope to be less lost. Or, more found. Or, at the very least, clearly branded.

This desire is now being expressed in the form of a mural the College Hill Neighborhood Association has commissioned with artist Josh Talbott. The mural will be installed on a cinderblock shed at 3600 Mission Street (at Appleton), and it will act as a visual point-of-entry for southbound traffic. The College Hill News says:

All three of Josh’s designs are meant to make you take notice of our corner of South Bernal—the Lost Tribe of College Hill is ready to be found. And our new College Hill logo—with wayfinding to the Bernal Cut Path—will be incorporated into the winning design.

Want to see Josh’s designs up close? Please join the College Hill Neighborhood Association at the Glen Park Library on Sunday, April 26th, at 4 p.m. to see his artistic inspiration and to log your vote in person.

“Discovery” is the name of the proposed design shown above.

Below, we see two other alternatives, “For Love” and “The Arrow of Time,” respectively:

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Which is the most fabulous? Which will do the most to put our College Hill neighbors on the map? All Bernalese are invited to learn more about the proposed designs and vote for your favorite online by April 30.

PHOTOS: by  Josh Talbott 

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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