Gothamist Managing Editor John Del Signore is in San Francisco this week judging our coffee consumption and pointing out the obvious. Below, he judges San Francisco's beauty through his New Yorker eyes.
I reside in New York, a sophisticated cosmopolitan city packed with important people. Life is pretty sweet there—we enjoy Shake Shack 'Shroom burgers three meals a day and never gain weight, for recreation we climb giant walls pocked with genitalia, and our media has achieved a level of petty self-absorption that makes the cafeteria in Mean Girls seem like a Rainbow Family Gathering. But despite my hometown's unfathomable significance, recent visits to San Francisco have forced me to accept that, despite all its charms, New York is not the fairest city of them all.
San Francisco's futuristic sidewalk sweeping ATVs may be unable to cleanse the sidewalks of their perma-pee musk, but these streets are nevertheless the most beautiful in all the land. Factor in its vertiginous dramatic vistas, with their expansive views of the glittering bay; the idiosyncratic panoply of all its quirky old Edwardian homes; the portentous rolling fog and the darling cable cars; and New York, by comparison, starts to resemble some toothless crone with peeling skin who just climbed out of the bathtub and won't stop hugging you.
I walked around for four hours the other night, from SoMa to Hayes Valley to Japantown and up through Pacific Heights and over to Russian Hill and into the spooky darkness surrounding Coit Tower, then down a mysterious staircase to Montgomery, past the North Beach strip clubs, and finally, through the desolate financial district back to my hotel.
It was all stunning, in a way that New York City can't possibly compete with, in part because New York isn't piled improbably on a cluster of precarious hills. But it's not just the topography; the architectural spectrum has a unique, peculiar charm that makes the bombastic NYC skyline almost seem like it's trying too hard—and coming off as trying too hard is every New Yorker's greatest fear.
And so, with the power vested in me by virtue of having taken a walk on Monday night, I hereby declare San Francisco to be America's most beautiful city. New York, you're second rate. I'm not gonna kick you out of bed, but I may need you to put this bag over your head when I get home. And if anyone doesn't believe me, click through on the randomly selected photographic evidence comparing SF's beauty to NYC's fugliness.