Valencia Gardens 1943 Valencia Gardens 2004
"As I squinted through the viewfinder, I heard the sound of running feet approaching, and looked up just as the camera was wrenched from my hand.
I still held the strap, and clung tight to it determined to not give way to my fear as the young man on the other end tried to pull it from my grasp. We faced each other.
He, (6 foot six, black, broad and all muscle) “Let go the camera!”
Me (too dumbfounded to think) No!
There we stood, face to face and at two-arms length apart, as the rest of his group caught up to him and slowly formed a semi-circle, edging me back up against the brick wall of a body shop. The street, which until then had been thronged with workers and passers now strangely empty and quiet.
“Let go the camera!
“No!” (surprised that he had not used a profanity).Whereupon he reached over with his other free hand, took the lens in one hand and the body in the other and quickly snapped the two apart.I felt a deep rage welling up inside, and insanely I moved towards him, only to have a much smaller youth of about 14 step in my path. I stopped, confused. He was wearing a dirty raincoat pulled closed in front of him, and was smiling broadly. Slowly, he opened the front of his raincoat to reveal the twin barrels of a sawn-off shotgun.....
In early 1993, I was visiting my family in San Francisco. Reading the S. F. Chronicle I noticed a debate going on about the City Council’s decision to locate a number of very expensive and modern abstract art sculptures in the internal courtyards of Valencia Gardens at 15th and Mission. The Gardens were an award-winning public housing project designed in the late 1950s, early 1960s, by William Wurster, a prominent Bay Area architect (and founder of the famous Berkeley College of Environmental Design (and School of Architecture where I had earlier taught).
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