Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Manhattanization of San Francisco

By Elliott Joseph
Copyright 2011 Elliott Joseph
November 2011
Reprinted from California Living,
The Magazine of The San Francisco Sunday
Examiner and Chronicle

To the amazement of an incredulous world the island of Manhattan has actually begun to move itself to San Francisco. While many claim to have heard the rumblings of New York ideas in the fair city of the hills and bay, it is safe to say that no one ever dreamed that brick by brick, girder by girder, street by street, twenty-two whole square miles of concrete, give or take a few miserable acres of parks, would really pick up and physically transport itself 2470 miles across the country.

Considered the largest move in the history of the world, logistically outdistances such huge undertakings as The Great Wall of China, underground Atlanta, the Astrodome and Walt Disney World, it is matched in its daring only by the decision to complete the move by mid decade. Perhaps there was secret hope that it all could really happen. Perhaps New Yorkers thought San Francisco would balk at the move.

The popular 102 story Empire State Building, long the world's tallest structure, is being painstakingly transplanted to the Embarcadero where it will replace the pitifully inadequate Ferry Building.

Sixty-nine additional skyscrapers over thirty stories in height, led by the Chrysler Building, the seventy story Rockefeller Center and sixty story Chase Manhattan Bank, are being moved to the immediate vicinity. They will house the offices of the 104 major corporations making the move, along with the host of advertising agencies, printers, accountants, insurance agents and myriad others who service them.

The United Nations, destined for Russian Hill as a concession to a soft foreign policy, is coming back to The City where it all began. The buildings will be operated by The De Young Memorial Museum.

The famed New York theater district , the Great White Way, complete with its first run motion picture houses, peep shows, side street strollers and concomitant entertainments, is destined for Broadway and Columbus Avenues, elevating the area to that of the "Crossroad of the World." Elevation of a more literal kind is also in the making, since the new density will require North Beach topless and bottomless to move into the Transamerica Building. Word has it that the move would not be unwelcomed by the renting agent.

The need for vastly increased housing is anticipated for those of Manhattan's two million inhabitants who will choose to make the move with the city, as well as the countless others who will be drawn to the new San Hattan, Fran Hattan, San Franhattan, Manfrancisco, or whatever The City may be renamed once its transformation to the new position of the new National Center is complete.

Some feel there will be a huge need for jobs for all these people. But others have pointed out that there will be enough employment handling the move itself. This latter group calls over-cautious those who see the need for new jobs after Manhattan has been transplanted, emphasizing the endless cycle destruction-construction as sufficient in and of itself as a means of generating employment. The wrecking trades alone. the group claims, will account for fifty percent of the new labor force.

An army of bulldozers is in the assembly stage for the assault on the Redwood Highway as part of the plan to link all of Northern California with the new San Francisco. Oregon is building a 40-foot wall stretching to Klamath Falls to protect itself from "the hand at our throat."

One can only wonder how it happened. Some say it started a bit at a time. Some say Manhattan grew bolder as it perceived a change in the values of San Francisco, feeling the time was right. One view even held that San Franciscans were tired of losing. They wanted to win for a change. And here was their chance to play big league ball, make a place in history for themselves.

Some thought that San Francisco had been naive, unaware of what it had, without the courage to realize it had been where others really wanted to be San Francisco, they felt, a gifted city, a pearl.

And what of New York? Suddenly finding itself free, plans are now in the making for Grand Central Park, stretching the length and width of the island. Across the Hudson, in New Jersey, things are growing again, as roads and refineries are being plowed under.

It's quieter. At times, a certain stillness, caressed with soft, child-like laughter, fills one's ears. The other day someone came up with a new idea. It took hold at once, and a hundred and fifty men, women, boys and girls marched to Brooklyn, each with a little brush, to paint the Verrazano Bridge red.

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