Lifestyle, San Francisco

Hello, San Francisco

I have officially arrived! I’m jet lagged, but that’s to be expected. I’m looking at a 3-hour time difference, here, and it’ll take some getting used to. So far we’ve been waking up at weird times during the night and getting tired really early in the evening.

I still can’t get over some of the little differences between NY and SF—I’m noticing them all the time and I think I’m starting to annoy Louie by pointing them all out. So instead of pestering him, I’ll list them for you:

1. People run red lights more often here.—Or at least this is how I’m perceiving it. We saw no less than 4 cars run red lights yesterday, both in Palo Alto and San Francisco, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen that many cars do the same thing in New York in a single day. Crazy drivers.

2. The fire hydrants are white.—Is that really supposed to stand out on the street?

3. The cabs are several different colors, not just yellow. (Here’s a picture of one that’s lime green for proof!)—The colors crack me up. Some are even normal car colors like black and white, how am I supposed to tell what’s a cab and what’s not? Somewhat confusing, but I guess I’ll get used to it.

4. There are palm trees in Union Square.—Yes, you read that correctly. There’s a Union Square here, too, and there are palm trees. About 4 on each corner of the square. It’s pretty nice, actually.

5. OMG hills.—I love the hills. NY is so boringly flat, I really like this variety and the tiered look it gives the city when you look at the skyline. Reminds me of Paris or Athens only without the European currency. I think the nickname “Paris of the West” is apropos.

6. People wait at the crosswalk for the walk sign.—This is one of the toughest things for me, I’m finding. I, as a native NYer, have this itch to walk across streets whenever there are no cars. I don’t seem to mind if there’s a “WALK” sign or not, or even if there’s a crosswalk. So, here, people just don’t jaywalk. You can, apparently, get a ticket for it or even arrested. Ok, I get it, you’re not supposed to do it, but do they really fine or jail people here who do? They don’t in NY. I’ll let you know if I ever get ticketed for jaywalking.

7. People walk slower, too.—This is a given. Everywhere besides NY feels slower.

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  • Reply Sean Patrick O'Brien April 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    The red-light-running is annoying. I’ve noticed that there’s no delay between when one direction’s light turns red and the other direction’s light turns green, so the perception is also a bit skewed. In other cities I’ve seen that there’s usually a ‘safe period’, where all directions have a red light in order to let the intersection clear before new traffic enters, but San Francisco (and maybe other cities in CA?) don’t seem to do this. Seems dangerous.

    • Reply Allison Blass April 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm

      1. I see cabbies do this all the time in NYC. It’s common for cars to run through yellow lights, so it might just look like they are running a red if it turns red while they’re going through. They shouldn’t do it though…

      3. That’s because most cities don’t have standard cab companies. They are different colors because they are different companies that run them. Usually they will say “taxi” on them somewhere, or will have a company name written on the side. And then of course, there is the style.

      6. That must be an SF thing too, because Portlanders definitely don’t wait. I jaywalked all the time growing up, although there’s definitely not a “OMG why aren’t you walking?” mentality in Portland either.

      7. Yes. People do walk slower everywhere else.

  • Reply tmana April 22, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Allison, some of my friends learned about jaywalking the hard way when we were in Cleveland in 1988. Yes, people do get ticketed for jaywalking. The new “Stop for Pedestrians” law in New Jersey subjects pedestrians to a $54 fine if they do not cross at the marked crosswalk. (The flip side of that coin is that many corners are either not marked with crosswalks, or the markings have worn away over time.)

    I’ve never been to Paris, but I’m told Parisians make New Yorkers look like they’re walking vvvvveeerrrrrrrrryyyyyyy sssllllooooooowwwwwwwwllllyyyyyy.

    • Reply Erica April 22, 2010 at 9:02 pm

      I’ve been to Paris, and the walking speed is about the same as NY.

  • Reply dad April 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    soon you will walk slower, then, when you visit NY people will be walking by you. While in Hawaii for four weeks upon arrival, I was walking past everyone.After about two weeks, I was walking the same speed as everyone. near the end of the month, everyone was walking past me.

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