We both agreed that the theme needed to be San Francisco-related. This city is our home and we share a deep and unabiding love for it. Ed has often commented that he never truly felt at home until he moved here four years ago. The first idea we had was to use famous San Francisco streets: Divisadero, Mission, Van Ness, Lombard, Market, Geary, etc. The next idea was to have each table be a neighborhood: The Mission, SOMA, North Beach, North Panhandle, and so on. We eventually decided against those ideas because they were too difficult to summarize in a single photo. We finally settled on "quirky and lesser-known San Francisco landmarks". We liked the idea of showing our friends who live here something new and interesting that they might not have already known. We also wanted to share with our out-of-town friends and family some of the landmarks that they probably didn't read about in their guidebooks.
Choosing the landmarks was a fun process. We polled our friends for interesting landmarks we may not have heard of. We did research on the internet. Because art and creativity are so important to us, many of the landmarks we chose were art pieces (Defenestration, the Wave Organ, Clarion Alley). Many of them were an important part of San Francisco history, even though they might be something you would otherwise walk right by without even noticing (the Golden Fire Hydrant, Lotta's Fountain, City Lights Bookstore). Some were fun and weird (Seward Street Slides). A few were so iconic and important to Ed and I that we couldn't resist including them, even though everyone in the world has heard of them (the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Coit Tower).
This project was Ed's brainchild, but I had a vision of how to implement it. Each table number would be a piece of purple cardstock with a photo of the landmark on it, and the title written in silver ink. On the back would be a description of the landmark, printed on silver paper and pasted to the purple paper. We decided to make the table numbers folded tents rather than single sheets held up by table number holders: one less thing to spend money on (table number holders), one less thing to get rid of after the wedding.
Because Ed was heading up this project, he did most of the hard work. He compiled the initial list of landmarks. He trolled Flickr for high-resolution Creative Commons photos of said landmarks, getting permission where the photographer's license required it. He ordered professional prints of the photos. He researched and wrote up the descriptions. All I did was pick out the paper, print the descriptions, and put the table numbers together. It ended up being a great project for us to work on together because we both got to flex our creative muscles but we didn't step on each others' toes too much.
The other thing that was great about this project is that it was cheap! Even with the nice cardstock we used, the entire project came out under $40. Here's how we did it.
- 19 sheets of 8.5" x 11" purple cardstock (Stardream Metallics, about $0.90 each from Flax Art and Design - we got a few extra sheets for goof-ups)
- 10 sheets of 8.5" x 11" silver paper (Stardream Metallics, about $0.60 each from Flax Art and Design - we got a few extra sheets for goof-ups)
- 16 4" x 6" photo prints (about $0.19 each from AdoramaPix.com)
- Silver paint pen (about $4 from Flax Art and Design)
- Double-sided tape (about $3 from Flax Art and Design)
- Bone folder ($6 from Flax Art and Design)
- Printer to print descriptions on silver paper, or get them professionally printed by a copy shop (about $0.06 per page, 6 pages total)
- Decide on a theme for your tables. Pick out individual items--landmarks in our case--within that theme to represent each table.
- Research and write up descriptions for each landmark.
- Find Creative Commons licensed photos of each landmark. Be sure to respect each photographer's license!
- Download a high-resolution version of each photo and send them to a photo printing shop such as AdoramaPix.com. Note that it may take a week or two to get your prints back so be sure to plan in advance. Many local shops can also print your photos for you, and they might be faster than ordering them online.
- Buy paper and other supplies.
- Print descriptions on silver paper and cut them out. Be sure to include photo credits in your descriptions!
- Score and fold each sheet of cardstock in half using the bone folder. (Tutorial here)
- Using double-sided tape, tape each photograph to one side of your cardstock tents.
- Using the paint pen, write the name of that landmark next to the photo.
- On the other side of the cardstock, affix the description of that landmark using double-sided tape.
- You're done! It's that easy.
If you're curious, here is a list of the landmarks we used, along with Ed's descriptions:
- Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in the world, but you probably already knew that. It opened on May 27, 1937 after only 4 years of construction and coming in $1.3 million under budget ($35 million). If only we could build bridges that fast and that cheap today. It's "golden" color is actually "international orange" and is a color used for safety reasons due to it's high visibility.
- Bay Bridge
Even Emperor Norton was in favor of a bridge connecting San Francisco with the East Bay. However it wasn't until 40 years after his call for a bridge that the engineering task was completed. The Bay Bridge opened for traffic on November 12th, 1936, just 3 years after construction began. Additional construction on the bridge will probably take 30 years. The bridge originally carried both trains and automobiles across the Bay, and in William Gibson's vision of the future it will serve as a home to a number of people.
- Sutro Baths
The Sutro Baths opened March 14, 1896 as a public bathhouse envisioned and developed by former mayor, Adolph Sutro. During its hey-day, there were 7 different swimming pools (1 fresh water, 6 salt water), a museum, a concert hall, and even an ice skating rink at one point. Utilizing the high tide of the Pacific Ocean it was capable of recycling 2 million gallons of water in about an hour. Nowadays the ruins serve as a great place for photo shoots and a romantic place to watch the sun set.
- Fort Point
Hidden underneath the Golden Gate Bridge you'll find an old fort built back before the Civil War. Fort Point, once called "the key to the whole Pacific Coast", was built to protect the Bay against hostile warships. Luckily it never had to fire a single shot in defense. Fort Point was almost demolished when the Golden Gate Bridge was built, but the chief engineer, Joseph Strauss, decided to build over it. Fort Point is made of hallways and arches and there are cannons.
- Treasure Island
Treasure Island is a completely man-made island off of Yerba Buena Island. It was created in 1936 and 1937 with fill dredged from the Bay for the Golden Gate International Expo of 1939. It is just shy of 1 square mile and has a population of about 1,500. It is indeed named after the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, who was briefly a San Francisco resident. It is currently owned by the U.S. Navy but is considered part of San Francisco. Over the years it has been used for several movies, tv shows, and has an annual music festival aptly named the "Treasure Island Music Festival" (you just missed it, it was last weekend). It also has one of the best views of downtown San Francisco and is a great place for graffiti.
- Lotta's Fountain
If you were around San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake you'd be very familiar with Lotta's Fountain. Being one of the few remaining structures left standing on Market Street, it turned into a central meeting place to share news and information. The fountain was originally donated in 1875 by singer/dancer/entertainer Lotta Crabtree - a character in her own right. Her fountain is the oldest surviving monument in San Francisco and was actually restored in 1999. Most people don't even notice the fountain on their daily commute, but next time you pass by the Market/Geary/Kearny intersection keep an eye out or it.
- Coit Tower
Standing 210 feet in the air, Coit Tower was built in 1933 at the bequest of Lillie Hitchcock Coit. It is a monument to the firefighters of San Francisco. Lillie, a patron saint of sorts for the SF Fire Department, loved helping them, fighting fires, and riding the Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5. She was also known for smoking cigars, wearing pants, and even sneaking into men-only establishments to gamble. Inside the tower you'll find several murals, many of which were made possible by New Deal federal employment programs for artists.
- Wave Organ
Maybe you've been to the Wave Organ after an sf0 event, or perhaps you saw it in a Corpus Callosum music video, but have you actually stopped and listened to it? The Wave Organ uses a series of tubes to interact with the waves of the Bay, creating all sorts of sounds as the water rolls in. The stone platforms and benches are partially made with pieces salvaged from the Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco. It's a bit of a walk out onto the peninsula jutting out of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, but this unique acoustic sculpture awaits you at the end.
- Golden Fire Hydrant
Across from Dolores Park sits a golden fire hydrant that saved Noe Valley and the Mission during the fires following the 1906 earthquake. As other hydrants ran dry, this one continued to pump water, helping fire fighters and residents save their homes. Over 3000 civilians spent 7 hours battling the flames, even stopping to pull the fire department's steam engines up Dolores St when the horses couldn't. Every year on April 18th the hydrant gets a fresh coat of gold paint in a special ceremony.
For a lengthy, dramatic retelling of this event, please take a look at this website.
- Bison Paddock
There's bison in San Francisco. They're in Golden Gate Park. They're actually kind of boring other than the fact that there are freaking bison in San Francisco. It's also one of Heather's favorite landmarks.
- Sutro Tower
Standing 977 feet on top of Mt Sutro is what many of the locals consider the defining landmark of San Francisco. The Sutro Tower was built in the early 70s, with it's first transmission on July 4th, 1973. The land it is built on was once the grounds of the Sutro Mansion. The tower, owned by Sutro Tower, Inc, transmits the signals of 11 televisions stations, 4 FM radio stations and about 20 wireless communications services. It is the tallest structure in the city, beating the Transamerica Pyramid by more than 100 feet. And no, you won't get fried if you climb the tower while the transmitters are on.
Defenestration (n. the act of throwing someone or something out of a window) is a site-specific art installation at the corner of 6th and Howard Streets. It consists of several pieces of furniture (couches, lamps, tables, etc) attached to the side of the building. Originally designed by the artist Brian Goggin, it was intended to be installed for only a year, but thirteen years later it is still mostly intact and is currently in the process of being restored. It's one of the first projects that Ed randomly came across that cemented his love for San Francisco and the community that exists here.
- Baker Beach
What many would call the birthplace of Burning Man, Baker Beach is a clothing-optional beach (seriously, do a google search) situated on the northwest corner of San Francisco, just south of the Golden Gate Bridge. With great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands, it's worth the hike down the step incline. Baker Beach is also the location of Battery Chamberlain, which was equipped with 6 inch guns capable of disappearing. You can see one of these 97,000 pound guns, donated in 1977, on display there. Most recently it has been the site of Balsa Man.
- Seward Street Slides
Grab a piece of cardboard and head over to Seward Mini Park (at Seward St and Douglass St in the Castro) for some hardcore sliding. A pair of concrete slides are one of the hidden gems of San Francisco. Loved by adults and children alike since their construction in 1973, the Seward Street Slides are the next step up for everyone tired of the ultra-safe slides in playgrounds today.
- City Lights Bookstore
City Lights is an independent book store located at Columbus and Broadway that was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953. In addition to being a staple of the Beat generation, it was best known for publishing Allen Ginsburg controversial "Howl" in 1956 which resulted in a trial for distributing "obscene" material. The acquittal of City Lights would set the groundwork for several other controversial publications to come. In the early years the store was dedicated to selling banned books and other paperbacks. Today it still retains this feel, mixing new releases from big name publishers with harder-to-find specialty releases.
- Clarion Alley
Clarion Alley can be found between Mission and Valencia, running parallel to 17th and 18th streets. Unlike many of the alleys in the Mission you'll find more than just trash here. Thanks to the Clarion Alley Mural Project, an artists' collective formed in 1992, the alley is covered in large murals from various artists. Constantly in flux, the art work of the alley morphs and changes over time as new artists contribute pieces that range from political statements to seemingly 3D illusions of escalators.