If you were out and about in the ‘hood yesterday or last night, you might have noticed that 4 colorful trees have popped up between Masonic and Stanyan.
There’s a story behind each tree, and we have them beneath the cut.
First, the where. As we said, there are four trees. From East to West, they’re in front of Magnolia (themed for the water park that used to inhabit the haight), Shoe Biz II (themed for the victorian era), FTC (themed for the Gold Rush), and Cha Cha Cha’s (themed tie dye).
There was more info on the themes in the Haight Ashbury Merchant’s Association press release:
Gold Rush – In the 1840s & 50s, when the miners were panning for nuggets in the Sierra Nevada, the Haight-Ashbury area was dotted with farms. Dairy cows grazed in the relatively fertile area on the outskirts of the booming gold rush city. As the city expanded, the Haight-Ashbury became a leisure area where people would escape the city and ride a trolley car to visit Golden Gate Park. The gold rush tree is hung with amber lights, gold ribbon and gold nuggets.
Victorian – In the 1870s and 80s, dainty lace curtains hung in the windows of the newly constructed redwood homes. A century later, the restoration enthusiasts who bought the aging homes would paint them a variety of colors, and they became known as San Francisco’s “Painted Ladies.” The Victorian tree is hung with purple & white lights and white lace ribbons.
The Chutes – Weekend visitors would visit the water park, where 10 cents would by a ticket for the 10-second thrill ride down the ramp and coast across the lake below. (See this article for photos & an article about the 1890s leisure spot: http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=The_Chutes_at_Fulton_and_10th_Ave.,_1902-1907) A waterfall of lights are hung on the Chutes-themed tree with blue, turquoise and white lights and ribbon.
Tie-Dye – From the 1960s to the present day, artists dyed t-shirts, sheets, and sarongs, in a variety of bright colors. When John Phillips wrote a song recorded by Scott McKenzie, listeners were urged to come to San Francisco and to “Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair”, an expression of peace. The Tie-Dye tree is wrapped in multicolor rope lights and colorful ribbons, and crowned with two oversize sunflowers in her hair.
(And by the by, when we were trying to snap a shot of this tree, we had to wait through a line of tourists taking their pictures in front of it.)
As for the why:
In past years, the street trees have been lit with white twinkle lights. Christin Evans, owner of the neighborhood bookstore The Booksmith and a member of the merchant association’s board said “This year we thought we’d try something a little different. We thought we’d celebrate the neighborhood’s history with artful holiday decorations. The neighborhood has a colorful history, and is home to many colorful residents and creative businesses. This year, we thought we’d start a holiday tradition of celebrating the neighborhood’s colorful past & present.
They’ll be up through mid-January, so you have plenty of time to check ‘em out and tell us what you think! Which one’s your favorite? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
And have a happy Thanksgiving!