Youthful memories of the Paris of the West

My worldly, intimidating and rather dour great-grandmother Ellita Genevieve Carroll lived in San Francisco most of her adult life moving there from her hometown Sacramento in 1904.  Visiting Nana meant trips to Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Podesta-Baldacchi Flower shop, and City of Paris Department store at Union Square;  started by French sailors out of the hold of a sailing ship abandoned during the gold rush. 
        Imagine a young boy’s Christmas with window displays on Union Square rivaling 5th Avenue, Santa living on the top floor, and a truly gargantuan 5 story Christmas tree decorated to scale in the magnificent lobby.  Nana’s prickly disposition was a small price to pay for my wondrous experiences in “The City”.

 Nieman Marcus bought COP and destroyed it in the usual corporate image fashion-all except the rotunda that fascinated me as a child.  It’s still there in all it’s Baroque glory.  Podesta-Baldacchi still exists too-in a different building.  On our recent Father and Sons tour  the Curls visited well-known landmarks Chinatown and the Wharf, crossed the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate.  On the last day, driving down Van Ness to the airport we passed City Hall, another landmark building.  Across the street stood the Opera House -more impressive than it’s civic neighbor.  That’s San Francisco; where the grandeur of Fine Arts supersedes both civic and commercial.  Paris of the West


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