Night and the City, and Oh! what a City!

There was a party last night in the old Hibernia Bank. It was a night of mystery and glamour. As with any event like this in San Francisco, the contrast between what was going on inside, and what life is like outside the bank, was sharp and bittersweet.

The occasion was the 20th anniversary of my employer, and we got all gussied up and had drinks and fancy foods. The bank was founded in 1864, and the interior shows it.

Gold rush money? Railroad cash? Who knows, but it’s a property of palatial proportions. It’s all marble and moulding and intricate floors. My guest (pictured here) and I are pretty hard to impress, and we were agog.

Stairways wound down to the safe deposit vaults, an elevator swooshed slowly up and down, lights picked out architectural details. Waiters carried h’orderves, bartenders made drinks at the open bar, and a band played as partygoers danced.

There were food stations around the room, and we all had a real great time, snapping pictures and giggling, eating raw shrimp and oysters, and trying to act responsibly as representatives of our hosts.

Can you imagine, I asked, what walking in here to do your banking was like? It must of been like visiting your money in a palace. La de da, ghosts of old San Francisco!

The location is at Market and Jones Streets. It is not the most elegant part of our city, and there was full on security, even to a uniformed SFPD officer. As we entered and later exited the venue, I had to ask my friend, how is it that it is okay for us to have this grand party when there are homeless people walking by with their shopping cart lives? The contrast is so great. This is our great city, and we can’t take care of our own anymore. Will we ever have some social justice for the have nots?

Look at the history of this city, and compare it to now. Again, I find myself wondering, what would my dad and grandparents say of their native city if they were to stroll its streets today. At this intersection, things were grand for decades, and now it’s not a place you’d choose to go, unless you had a good reason. Yet, I suppose that even in the 1860s there were similar issues to a life lived in a city as loved as San Francisco .

And I did have a good reason. But I also have a sense of history, and it was really cool to finally peek inside this once- cyclone fenced-off, pidgeon infested and poop-bespattered, grand old gentleman of the Victorian era. On that note, goodnight. And here’s an historic streetcar on Market Street for you, above.

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