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Photo by Patricia Chang

Revisit these 13 Curbed SF stories that have nothing to do with coronavirus

If you need a distraction, here’s some powerful writing about the Bay Area

The novel coronavirus, which has prompted a state-wide shelter-in-place order, has been a modern-day phenomenon that’s disrupted everyone’s lives. It has been, in a word, trying. Psychologically and physically, we are being asked to shift our lives in dramatic fashion.

Sometimes we just need a break. If you yearn to tune out the news for an hour or two (stepping away from Twitter is a good, albeit difficult, practice), here are thirteen stories published on Curbed SF from the last year that will get your mind off the temporary situation saddling us all. These articles run the gamut, from the two migrations happening in San Francisco to a mystical chunk of land in Albany to a Hillsborough redesigned to look like a popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

As always, thanks for reading.


A single-story home nestled among trees, overlooking the bay. Photo by Patricia Chang
Cheap rent, amazing views: What it’s like to live on Angel Island by Laura Entis

To live on Angel Island is to exist between worlds. Tiburon, a picturesque, wealthy town in Marin County, replete with boutiques, speciality grocery stores, and glassy mansions, is 1.6 miles away. San Francisco, the world’s tech center, home to billionaire startup founders and venture capitalists in fleece vests, is six miles away. And in the bay between them is Angel Island, 1.2 forested square miles populated by deer, raccoons, and birds. There are no tech workers or retired venture capitalists with second homes here, just a collection of dorms and standalone homes that rent for less than the price of a parking spot in San Francisco. There are no shops or restaurants. There isn’t even a grocery store or street lights. At night, it’s dark enough to see the stars, dimmed somewhat by the blazing lights of San Francisco in the distance.


A handful of one- to two-story homes along the beach, with trees and mountainous terrain in the background. Photo via Shutterstock
Bolinas wanted to stay hidden—then came the internet by Ethan Varian

This enclave in Marin County, primarily a residential community that maintains “a healthy balance between tourist and resident,” was once a hidden coastal jewel. But with the onset of travel blogs, Google Maps, and short-term rental sites like Airbnb, Bolinas is anything but hidden. And many long-time residents say that balance is quickly approaching a tipping point.


Illustration by Leonard Peng
If San Francisco is so great, why is everyone I love leaving? by Diana Helmuth

A heartbreaking love letter to Baghdad by the Bay, Diana Helmuth’s first-person piece explores the affects of two migrations: One being a continuation of the siren song that is the California dream. The other being the one that few people want to talk about, though it affects nearly everyone.


An art piece on a woman reaching out, made up of found objects. Photo by Patricia Chang
Man versus nature versus man: 50 or so years of the Albany Bulb by Rick Paulus

“It has been—often all at once—a landfill, an encampment, a community, an art installation, a museum, a music venue, a playhouse, a racetrack, and a dog park.” Learn all about this magical chunk of land in the Bay Area, one of the few that still allows creativity to run free, with some of the best views in the world. And no one’s quite sure what’s going to happen to it next.


A series of city high rise buildings with giant price tags on them. Illustration. Illustration by Natalie Nelson
Thanks to rent control, I finally get to live alone by Brock Keeling

Outside of an IPO-infused influx or cash or a fat trust fund, one of the few ways a San Franciscan can live alone in one of the most expensive cities in the world is by the power of rent control. Is it a good thing? A bad thing? This piece details one man’s chance at living alone for the first time in 45 years thanks, in part, to rent stabilization.


Photo via Shutterstock
The Bay Area’s 10 most important buildings of the past decade by Leilani Marie Labong

As Curbed looked back over the last decade, we witnessed an evolving landscape. A company’s horizon-defining skyscraper ascended into the stratosphere over San Francisco, and residential high-rises sprouted up to solve the need for more (luxury) housing amid maxed-out urban density. Here are the Bay Area’s best designs over the last ten years.


A whimsical city scene of a windmill, ramen shop, food truck and clothing store. Illustration by David Huang
101 things to love about Oakland by Pen Harshaw and Azucena Rasilla

While some memories of Oakland have vanished, other experiences remain firmly in place. From the right-field bleachers crew at the Oakland Coliseum and Colonial Donuts to the large, fake watermelon slice on the banks of the San Leandro Bay and the Ghostbusters building, here are 101 things to love about Oakland.


Aerial view of seaside neighborhood with old navy barracks, homes, and industrial spaces. The sun above breaks through a series of clouds. Photo via Shutterstock
7 San Francisco neighborhoods everyone should be watching by Adam Brinklow

San Francisco is building more now than it has in generations. More homes, more commercial and office space, more parks, and more public spaces. But at the same time, the city is also very busy not building. Not building because of legal challenges to development, not building because of red tape, not building because of NIMBYism and public health worries, and in some cases because of scandal. Here are the seven neighborhoods, poised for unprecedented growth, that everyone should be watching.


Hotel Metropolis at 25 Mason Street, which features one of the film’s characters peering out the window. The building is covered in a large red mural with white text that says, “stay.” Movie stills courtesy of A24 Films
A tour of Last Black Man in San Francisco locations with filmmaker Joe Talbot by Chris Roberts

“Even before we shot anything, we’d be scouting locations and find a place we’d love. Then we’d come back, and they’d be bulldozing it.”


Photo via Shutterstock
150 things you didn’t know about Golden Gate Park for its 150th anniversary by Adam Brinklow

Golden Gate Park turned 150 years old this spring, a major San Francisco moment worth honoring, even if you can’t actually visit it right now. To illustrate how big this occasion is—a pandemic notwithstanding—we’ve plumbed the depths of the park’s past, present, and future to unearth 150 reasons to cherish this three-mile-long green space carved out of sand and shore dunes more than a century ago.


Photo by Patricia Chang
Peek inside the Hillsborough Flintstone House by Brock Keeling

Yabba dabba redo.


Photo via Media News Group / Getty Images
Can San Francisco be fixed? by a slew of local journalists, a few policy influencers and activists, and one noted tech CEO

From afar, San Francisco’s skyline looks pristine and thriving. But take a closer look. From how we interact with each other to vivid displays of the widening divide between rich and poor, it’s not as booming as it appears from a distance. As many have suggested over the last decade: The city might be broken. Read how a smattering of local notables responded to the query: Can the city, unassailably cracked, be fixed?


A large bed with gray duvet, a dark green wall, a wooden nightstand with a lamp and three books. Photo by Brock Keeling
I turned my bedroom into a minimalist cocoon—and now I can sleep by Brock Keeling

Here’s how I did it.