Category Archives: General

Write for Cole Valley Alley!

Photo: Brenda Gottsabend

Have you ever dreamed of writing for a local neighborhood blog with no pay and little recognition? Did you always want a blog, but wished someone else would maintain it? Well look no further!

Cole Valley Alley is seeking additional neighborhood peeps to make regular (or semi-regular) contributions to this blog. No experience is necessary, however some basic writing skill would be appreciated.

If you don’t have time to write full posts, shoot us some story ideas (ideally related to Cole Valley and/or the surrounding ‘hoods [Ashbury Heights, Haight Ashbury, UCSF, etc.]).

If you or someone you know might be interested, please contact us HERE.

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Tree Be Gone

Per Haighteration, time is running out to recycle your Chanukwanzachristmasolstikah tree.

According to an article posted to the SF Department of the Environment website, the last curbside pickup will be January 14th (tree must be on curb by 6 AM). They’ll also be accepting drop-offs at:

Recology Golden Gate, 900 Seventh St., through Jan. 15
— Recology San Francisco, 501 Tunnel Ave., through Jan. 15
Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council Recycling Center, 780 Frederick St., through Jan. 17

Recycle while you can!  As a bonus, our sidewalks will smell really nice this week.

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Ain’t No Party Like a Bike Party Party

The first San Francisco Bike Party went swimmingly well Friday night.

It may have been cold, but spirits were high, with music & lights galore. Riders were very respectful of the traffic laws, generally staying to the right lanes & stopping for most red lights and stop signs.

There were a few breaks along the way to dance & socialize, the most memorable being at Alta Plaza Park in Pacific Heights where everyone got to be a kid again on the playground.

Here are a couple shots from the stop in the Music Concourse at Golden Gate Park, after which point we broke from the pack to get home and out of the cold.

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Bike Party Tonight!

The first ever San Francisco Bike Party kicks off tonight at 8 PM (gather at 7:30) at Giants Stadium/AT&T Park.  Think of it as Critical Mass, but with more music & rules.

Hope to see you there!

SF Bike Party Route Map

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Secret of the Stones

Whenever I ride my bike to work, I come across a semi-circle of what appear to be old cobblestones at the intersection of Frederick & Shrader Streets.

Frederick & Shrader Stones

Frederick & Shrader Stones

I never thought much of it until I noticed a full circle of similar stones on 13th Street, at Folsom, near Rainbow Grocery.

13th & Folsom Stones

13th & Folsom Stones

13th & Folsom Stones

My curiosity was piqued. What do they mean? Why are they there? Are they the remnants of an ancient civilization, a decorative flare from a bygone era of well funded city government, or simply the remains of an old cobblestone street?

An e-mail to the San Francisco Department of Public Works solved the mystery. Chris McDaniels of the DPW quickly responded to my query:

“The cobblestone circle in the roadway is there to identify an underground San Francisco Fire Department water storage tank or cisterns. In emergencies, the SFFD rely on these indicator to assist in fire fighting when hydrant are non operational. The tank hold several thousand gallons of water and are installed at various location around the City. Modern cisterns use brick instead of cobblestones.”

As to the cistern at Frederick & Shrader, DPW Mechanical Engineer Michael B. Smith went on to say:

“Our records indicate it was constructed in 1908 of reinforced concrete and has a capacity of 75,000 gallons.”

He also sent me these fascinating DPW cistern construction drawings:

Frederick & Shrader Cistern Plans

Cistern Ring Construction Guidlines

The first document appears to be the original plans/work order for the Frederick & Shrader cistern dating back to 1909/1910.  The second is a somewhat more recent diagram from 2007 outlining basic cistern construction guidelines.

So there you have it! The Secret of the Stones. Hopefully they’ll never be needed, but it’s good to know they’re there.

Many thanks to Chris & Michael of the SFDPW for making this post possible.


Filed under General, History, Streetscape

Still to come…

Carl and Cole

Will be away for the holidays, but here’s some of what’s to come later this month and into the new year on Cole Valley Alley:

Grocery Store Wars (The Rebellion vs. The Empire): I’ll be speaking to local grocers (Real Foods, Frederick Street Super Market, Alpha Market, and others) about their reaction to the impending opening of the new Whole Foods at Haight & Stanyan, and what their plans are to stay competitive/afloat.  We’ll also look at their histories and contributions to the community.

Stonehenge: We’ll be investigating the old circle of stones imbedded in the street at Frederick & Shrader (and other locations throughout the City). Are they the location of an ancient worshiping site, a new form of urban crop circle, or maybe just an old cable car turn around?

Bulbs!: We’ll take a look at the proposed sidewalk/N-Judah stop bulbouts on Carl at Stanyan and Cole.

Happy Solstice!


Filed under General, Local Business, Streetscape

Do we exist?

Not according to Curbed SF, who left our fair neighborhood out of their 2010 Curbed Cup Neighborhood of the Year competition.  Apparently they also have little regard for Cow Hollow, Balboa Park, Glen Park, The Excelsior, Haight-Ashbury, Visitacion Valley, Russian Hill, Polk Gulch, Hunters Point, Pacific Heights, and The Marina (among others).  I think we can all agree that The Marina should be left out, but I’m surprised neighborhoods like Cole Valley, Haight-Ashbury and Russian Hill didn’t make the cut.

It appears the initial 16 neighborhoods were largely chosen based on comments & e-mails sent in response to the 12/6/10 post announcing the Cup.

Apparently there aren’t many Curbed SF readers residing in Cole Valley, or maybe it’s been too quiet here, but isn’t the quiet bustle part of what makes our neighborhood so great?

Maybe we can get into a last minute wild card round?  Russian Hill vs. Cole Valley?


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