A stroll down memory lane two weeks ago encouraged me to take another last Sunday to parts of San Francisco I love.

Carolyn was attending a daylong workshop by the casting director of the CBS soap opera, “The Bold and the Beautiful.” So I took a one-block walk to the Muni stop at California and Park Presidio. The 1 California dropped me at Clay and Montgomery, across from the Transamerica Pyramid. For 15 years, I shared offices with associates just north of the Financial District. I used to take an express bus downtown. I could read. And I loved the 10-minute walk to and from the office with a chance to decompress.

The 50-year-old, 48-story Pyramid—initially reviled, now beloved—is undergoing a $400 million renovation by Shvo, an international real-estate developer. The project will add retail and public spaces, a private club and an adjacent luxury office tower. All I saw was fencing. I hope the refreshed Pyramid will help refresh downtown.

Then I walked to 760 Montgomery at Pacific, the small building where I worked for 10 years after we moved from 333 Broadway. Great people and enhanced productivity helped my business soar. I loved the location, which sat at the center of many different neighborhoods. Where to next?

I crossed Broadway and headed up Columbus towards the Bay. I managed a short, circular detour on narrow, funky Grant Avenue. Has North Beach changed? A good part of the neighborhood is an extension of adjacent Chinatown. Restaurants like Calzone’s are gone. But Molinari’s Deli still serves great sandwiches at 373 Columbus. (I gobbled up the turkey and sun-dried tomato.) People, many tourists, swarmed the cafés. Saints Peter and Paul still looks out over Washington Square. Further north, Bimbo’s 365 Club continues hosting entertainment and private parties.

At Beach Street, I headed west a block and stopped for lunch at the Buena Vista Cafe. There, according to the late, local columnist Stan Delaplane, Irish Coffee was invented. I hadn’t been to the BV in decades! (I think we took my parents there for brunch, which goes back over 40 years.) I sat in the Covid-created parklet; you now see little through an inside window. Touristy? So what! I enjoyed the view of the cable car turnaround and more, as well as my Mexican omelet.

Refreshed, I checked out Ghirardelli Square. You can still buy Ghirardelli chocolates and treat yourself to a hot-fudge Sunday, among other goodies. I passed. Then I walked to Van Ness and headed south, going by Galileo High. One year, I taught a weekly writing class to freshmen as a business volunteer. I turned west on Chestnut, jammed with diners, walkers and vehicles. I wound up at the Muni stop at Lombard and Divisadero. 

Westbound Lombard traffic crawled because of an accident a few blocks on. I saw two cars burned to a crisp. But the 28 got me home via San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge viewpoint. The bus was packed with young people heading to the final day of Outside Lands—we can hear the music, if subdued, in the house—and a contingent of French and Italian visitors.

It’s nice to relive a satisfying past and keep up with the present. I intend to do more of that in the future.  

The Short (Pun Intended) Redemptive Life of Little Ned is now available in softcover or e-book from, and Or order from your favorite bookstore.

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  1. Ellen Newman on August 18, 2023 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for the local tour. I used to work at an ad agency on Sansome Street near your old office. I enjoyed hanging out downtown in those days.

    • David Perlstein on August 18, 2023 at 11:45 am

      It was a great area to work in, Ellen. And the folks I shared offices with did me many kindnesses for which I’ll always be grateful.

  2. Claudia Bluhm on August 18, 2023 at 10:58 am

    Wonderful read. My husband and I live in a house just above North Beach on Russian Hill (Macondray Lane). The city has changed…unresolved homeless and crime issues and an emptier downtown, but North Beach seems to be coming back….Like you, I’ve been around a long time. Born in SF as were my parents and my gram emigrated from NY at age 2 in 1904 just in time for the SF earthquake. My dad grew up in the Fillmore – the then Jewish district. My mom grew up in the mission.

    Thanks for your writing…. Claudia

    • David Perlstein on August 18, 2023 at 11:45 am

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Claudia. We all know that change is inevitable. So is reliving memories. Also, I set a scene or two in the Jewish Fillmore in my new novel, THE SHORT (PUN INTENDED) REDEMPTIVE LIFE OF LITTLE NED.

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