The Palms Are Not On Fire
August 11, 2006
Way back long ago, when the Internet was still in black-and-white, I read Jamie Zawinski's report of a fire in a tire warehouse across the street from where he lives. I was in New York then, and had never really spent any time in San Francisco as an adult, so I had no real idea of the geography of the city. I kind of shrugged my shoulders, marveled at the first person report being online so quickly, and went back to my web surfing. To give you an idea of what things were like in that simpler time, JWZ's photos of the event were actually captured on film, not on a digital camera.
Today, the Six Apart office where I work in San Francisco is across the street from the location where that warehouse fire took place. Reading the news reports from the time reveals what a radically different neighborhood it is today from nine years ago. Perhaps the best demonstration of this change is the photo I took with my camera yesterday of the new building that's risen in the same location.
Despite the bemusement of my Vox neighborhood, I think it's a really fascinating transformation. Obviously, neither tire warehouses nor "custom Studio Becker cabinetry" are really my aesthetic, but that idea of rebirth and reinvention is what makes cities and communities so intriguing to me.
I don't think I would have guessed nine years ago that JWZ would live a block from my office (we still haven't met), I would live a block from this office, and across the street, that same location where all those tires burned would inspire articles describing frenzied condominium sales. "[T]he 300-unit Palms at 555 Fourth St. is logging similarly dazzling numbers."