Monday, May 7, 2012

Final paper

Maria Morelli
Art 295

Old and new Signage of North Beach

            Signage surrounds us, it is part or our everyday lives. Most people do not realize the impact and large role signs have over our lives. We see them every single day of our lives. Whether they are informing us or amusing, us signs are part of our lives. Signs have many different roles, but it is when we stop and pay attention to them, we realize their artistic side. From old and historic to new and futuristic, signs are what define an area.
            The rich history, culture and strong ethnic background make North Beach the perfect place to see amazing signs. Named after a beach that was filled in by land in the 1800’s, the popular tourist destination in San Francisco can make anyone feel like they are in Europe, while they are there. Having Coit Tower and the famous City Lights Bookstore here adds to its diversity. North Beach contains Little Italy, and many of the restaurants here are Italian. An influx of Italians came to the area in the late 1800’s with the help of the ports. With the new cultures coming to live in this part of the city, it started to transform. This area was part of the beat movement of the 1950’s.  The beat movement that the City Light bookstore played a role in transformed North Beach, the old Italian shops stated to mesh with the beat style.

With its large Italian population, North Beach became known as Little Italy. The Italians started to open up restaurants here, and the area is still known for these restaurants today.
Even thought it has a large number of Italian based restaurants, you can find many other cultural type of restaurants in the area. This is another reason North Beach is such a great place to study the culture and history of their signage. North Beach is also known for its lively nightlife with lots of bars and clubs that have a special character to them. This is where the famous red light district of San Francisco is located. Another thing North Beach is known for are the little boutiques and shops that line the streets, where you can find, unique items.
This area was also part of the original Barbary Coast trail and contains one of the oldest streets in San Francisco, Grant Avenue.  The Barbary Coast Trial is a 3.8-mile trail around the original streets of the city. The trail begins at 5th and Mission Streets and runs toward the waterfront. This trail started by Daniel Bacon marks the original important streets of San Francisco. He also wrote a book to accompany the Barbary Trail to help people find and notice the important cites. In the city North Beach is a very important part of San Francisco and its history,  and this is why I chose to study, compare and contrast, old and new signs here.

North Beach has a large number of old signage, because of how long it has been around. Many of the signs are attractive, and from restaurants or cafés. Having an old signs out side of a restaurant or café can help the reputation of the place. When new people come to this area for the first time, and want a place to eat and the older sign will stand out to them. Tourists want to feel like they are eating at authentic Italian restaurants that have good food. By seeing an old sign that looks like it has been there for many years, it is easier to assume that this place has good food. If it did not then the place would not have survived for so long.

More than just the beauty and appeal of old signage, it can also be an indicator of an established business.  The signage company Bohemia Signs states that “ An attractive sign is much more likely to draw customers into your business and beautify your neighborhood at the same time.” Bohemia Signs is a company that specializes in hand painted signs.  While the hand painted signs are new, they are made to have the appearance of being older. The hand painted signs give more of an authentic look to the business. Even when a business does not have the real authentic old signage, some places still strive to obtain that look. The look of having an old worn in sign on the front of your store is appealing, people are willing to pay for new signs that look old.

This aspect of old traditional signage is a part of San Francisco culture. San Francisco is known for a rich blend of many different cultures. The signs in the city reflect this blend, and the businesses are trying to keep this look going. Instead of turning to new signs that are powered by technology, most of the family run places are keeping the traditional old signs. This can be seen as you walk the streets of North Beach, and look at all the little restaurant and cafés. Dating back to the late 1800’s, when the immigrants from over from Italy, North Beaches’ businesses have a long history to them. This history adds to the appeal, from not only tourist aspect but also with local San Francisco people.
The large amount of old and made to look old signs in North Beach is part of its character. When walking down the streets of North Beach, you feel as if you have been transported to Europe. This area is unlike any other district in the city. Rich with a European vibe that creates a sense of calming peace during the daytime, and a lively craziness of the red light district at night, it is no wonder this is a popular place to visit, for both tourist and locals. The signage plays a big role in helping to define the area. The beat movement has blended with the Italian culture, to create a unique atmosphere, which is unlike any other.

Once you start to see older, traditional looking signs of little cafes there is no question you are in North Beach. Some of the ways in which you can tell and decipher if a sign is new or old are what materials were used to make it. Some materials have not been around for many years. By looking at what materials the sign was made with, can help pinpoint the year it is from. By looking at the different technology used in signage, can also help you tell the year it was made. Currently there is a lot of new technology that is being used. Some examples are the billboard signs that change ads every couple of seconds. Also the Ads that are seen in places like malls, that flash and change every few seconds. Signage is in a transition period, and is using more and more technology.

This is why it is refreshing to come to a place like North Beach, which still has a large number of traditional types of signage. Instead of seeing the big, bright flashing signs of Union Square, which is not far away or seeing the brightly colored signs that clutter the streets of Chinatown, you see the serene signs of the small quaint cafes of North Beach. The area transforms at night to be the lively red light district. The signs are what complete the area and helps shape it. The atmosphere and look are important to the appeal of North Beach.
When you walk down the street in North Beach there is no doubt what district you are in. Even though Chinatown is not very far away, it is a completely different atmosphere. The signage is a big indicator telling you where you are. All you have to do is turn down one street and you are in another district. All of the sudden signs with Chinese words will start to appear. Signage is also important in dividing up the districts. Seeing signs with Chinese writing or vintage signs of cafes can be a huge indicator to what area it is. With out having this specific signage that shapes an area, it would be less clear to determine where you are.
Many cafes and bars here have been around for centuries, for example “The Gold Spike” was started in 1920. The same family has owned The Gold Spike since it first opened. This was a well known bar the served very good traditional Italian food. The sign of the Gold Spike bar is very simple but bold at the same time. A large banner hangs over the entrances to the bar. The simple letters and bright gold coloring, helps draw people in. Also on the windows there are the words, The Gold Spike in gold lettering. Their sign is simple and to the point, letting people know that this is an old traditional restaurant. This style has worked for a long time; so they have kept the same style of sign for many years.
Another restaurant that has a long history in North Beach is Stella’s Pastry. Located on the main drag, Stella’s has been a traditional Italian bakery since 1942. This has been a popular place loved by not only tourist but also many San Francisco locals. Their sign is a light blue with white wording. While not very big it, stands out especially at night when it lights up bright pink. On the windows there is gold lettering with the words Stella’s Pastry and Café. The gold lettering helps create the feeling of a European café. This gold lettering is very common on many of the windows in North Beach, because it recreates the look of an old Italian cafe.
Although North Beach has a lot of restaurants that have been around for many years, there are also some new comers to the scene. For example Don Pisto's, just opened about three years ago. They are a Mexican restaurant located on Union Street. Don Pisto’s does a new take on Mexican street food. Also they pride themselves s on only using fresh ingredients. While they are a new restaurant they do not have the look of being brand new.
Don Pisto’s looks as if it has been there for many years, even though it has only been in North Beach for a mere three years. The outside of the building it is all dark brick, with some red bricks mixed in. There is no large sign that jumps out at people just small little sign, almost giving the feeling that you have to know about this place before hand, rather than wandering in off the street. This interesting tactic of not having a big sign can create a sense of exclusivity of the people coming here. This can also add to the feeling of Don Pistos’s being older than it actually is. The inside of the building matches the outside. The inside is all brick just like the outside. All of the bricks lead to a dark yet cozy feeling to the place.
Don Pisto’s is an example of how North Beach is a not a place of strictly European style restaurants. While North Beach does have a lot of European restaurants, more and more places of other cultures are opening there. The cultures are blending together to create a more diverse and interesting area. Txoko is another place that is new to the area.  They focus on food from Spain. As North Beach grows and transforms we will see more businesses that are not only European style, but from different areas and cultures. This mix of cultures in the new businesses only helps add to the charm and character, making North Beach an even more interesting place to visit.
Txoko pronounced “choco" is relativity new to North Beach. They describe themselves as a “bar striving to provide excellent food and service in a casual and unpretentious environment.” They mix both French and Spanish food together. Just like Don Pisto’s, Txoko’s sign has the appearance and feeling of being old. Their main symbol is an emblem that looks like a coat of arms. In rich dark wood, with a pig and rooster on either side of the sign, it has a historical quality. The inside also has the same appeal as the main symbol. The inside has dark colors and low lighting adding to the atmosphere. The look Txoko is striving for is the image that they are an old historical restaurant.
The drive for the new business of North Beach to have vintage looking signs is a big trend. Most of the business there are old, so they naturally have the vintage signage. The new businesses that come in feel they need to keep up the look, to they fit in with the atmosphere of North Beach.  Having an old appearing sign can help draw customers in. The new places know this fact; this is why they want to look as if they have been established for many years. The new restaurants want people to think they have been here for a long time, so people will be more likely to come in and try their food. Vintage signs appear in North Beach not only because they owners have not bothered to change the sign. The old signage is part of their history and appeal to the customers; this is what the new places are striving to accomplish, but without putting in the actual time.

From the red light district to the small quaint cafes, there is no doubt North Beach has a rich culture. Even though it is a relativity small area, the influence it has on San Francisco is big. North Beach contains some famous landmarks of the city like, City Lights Book store and Coit tower. The historic landmarks and cafes of little Italy are what define the character of North Beach. The signs of these places are not just a simple signs. The signs in North Beach are art and give the area beauty. Without this aspect North Beach would not be the same.
We see signs everyday of our lives and we do not realize the huge role they play. They define the districts of San Francisco, by being indictors as to what area you are in.  They are also an expression of artistic beauty for the businesses of North Beach. Whether new or old, it is when we take the time to stop and notice a sign, that it becomes more than just a sign, it is a work of art.


"Don Pistos, about." Don Pisto's. Web. 28 Apr. 2012.
NEW BOHEMIA SIGNS: Hand Painted Signs and Gold Leafing." NEW BOHEMIA SIGNS: Hand Painted Signs and Gold Leafing. Bohemia Signs. Web. 20 Apr. 2012.
North Beach/Columbus Avenue." North Beach: San Francisco Neighborhoods. Sanfranciscodays. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.
Our History - Stella Pastry." Stella Pastry & Cafe. Stella Pastry. Web. 20 Apr. 2012.
Open Road Tv. "Barbary Cost Trial." Travel Videos, Travel TV, Free Travel Videos at OpenRoad.TV. Open Road TV. Web. 22 Apr. 2012.
"San Francisco: North Beach." North Beach San Francisco Neighborhoods Travel  SFGate. Sfgate. Web. 23 Apr. 2012.
Txokosf. "Our History." Txokosf. Web. 25 Apr. 2012
Wu, Nina, and Karen Solomon. "San Francisco Restaurant and Dinning Guide." San Francisco Restaurant Guide: North Beach. San Francisco Restaurant Guide. Web. 29 Apr. 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

north beach

            On this trip we visited the district of North Breach and the surrounding areas. This was my first time to be able to explore this area. This area of San Francisco is full of many different cultures all close together. By having all the cultures so close together, it becomes easy for people to have really diverse San Francisco really is. The signage here is some new signs and some old. The signage In North Beach helps tell the part of its history.
            North beach is made up of very interesting parts that come together to make up north Beach. This area encompasses little Italy and also has the famous Coit tower. When walking though little Italy you almost feel as if you as actually in Europe the streets are lined with little cafes and people are eating outside. The atmosphere of this area is very laid back, it can be a great way to get way fro the day. The Coit tower is just up the hill; Coit tower is famous and part of San Francisco history. In the tower there are the murals lining the wall. These are the same type of murals from the public work program that wee in Ocean Beach. This spot is a huge tourist attraction; a lot of popular come there for the beautiful view of the city. Once you get to the top of the hill it is hard not to be amazed by how beautiful the view of the city is .I really enjoyed being able to see part of the city in a new way.
            The signage used in North beach is older and has historical significants to it. In little Italy with all the cafes lining the streets it is easy to see how the sings would be older. Some of the cafes have been there for many years and their original sign has become part of their business. Usually these signs are on the smaller side instead of being big and flashy. By having the signs of this area be less new it adds to the character, helping people feel like they are really in Italy. Also the signs that lead visitors to Coit tower are important. They help lead the people and show them the right direction to go in, With out these signs informing people where to go, no one would know how to get there.
            I really enjoyed this trip to North Beach. I found it be a very interesting place with a lot of different things to do there. I plan on going back to explore this area more. I liked looking at the older signs in the area; they have more character to them than a brand new sign. All the different types of signage here is a big part of what makes this district what it is. With out all the old signs of the cafes and stores this area would lose some of its charm .So the signage plays a role in defining a place. North Beach is so close to districts like Chinatown yet it is so different. This is the reason the city of San Francisco is so interesting city to explore.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

North beach


            This week we visited the mission, Castro and lower Haight district. After visiting these districts we are able to compare and contrast them. Also to see how, just one block can make a big difference in the atmosphere of the area. We have visited a good number of different districts and it is becoming easier to see how each ones signage is geared towards a specific audience. Some districts hare very similar to each other while other are complete opposites, even though they happen to be in close distance to each other.
            Each of the three districts has a different audience it is trying to reach and gain the attention of .the Castro district has a main audience of gay and lesbian, because that is part of the majority of people who live there. A lot of the building in this area are very old and have a lot of historical significances and meaning to them. One image that I would choose from this area is the image of Castro Theater. This is a prominent landmark in the area and has become a historical sight. A lot of the sights in the area have a significant part in the fight for gay rights and equality. These buildings have very important meaning to the people who live there. The main audience of the Castro district is aimed toward the large gay and lesbian population and their triumphs to gain equality.
Another district we visited is the part of lower haight. Lower haight has a lot of small cafes and clubs or bars in this area. Even thought this area is named lower Haight it differs from upper Haight h by having less shopping and the houses and there are less decorated then that of upper Haight. One image that stands out form this area is that of all the mauls along the walls. The audience for signage in this district would be toward the more lower class people. This area can have some not as nice parts that make up the lower Haight. So the signage would be for them and also the homeless people living there. Also another group of people that the signage is directed to here is for the tourist to provide them with the proper information.
The last district that we visited was the Mission district .the mission district is located in such a spot that it becomes insulated from the fog and the wind make it appear to be warmer than other pats of the city. It has a rich culture with many murals along the walls. The mission has a lot of nightlife with many bars and clubs along the streets. Recently a lot of younger people have moved in to this area and the transformation has begun. This was one know as a bad area so the housing prices were cheep, now the housing prices are rising. The population here is filled with a lot of artsy young people. One image that stands out to me is the women’s building. The women’s building is covered in beautiful mauls. This building is something that really defines this area and shows who the singed is directed towards. The signage in this area is direct toward both the new young people living there and the poor people who have been living there for years.
             After taking the time to investigate all three of these different districts it is interesting to see the similarity and differences in them. They all have a rich culture and pride that seems to define them. Each of the districts has a building that has a great historical significants that makes it so important. Each of the districts has a signage system that is directed towards the people who live there to try and get the message across to them. Even though they are all very different they each same the same quality of having a rich culture, that defines them.


            This field outing we visited the three districts of china town, north beach and the financial district. All three of these districts have unique qualities that each one of them posses. Signage in each of the three districts differs, depended on the group of people they are trying to reach. It is interesting to contrast each district with each and see how each one chose to use signage in a different way After looking into each of the three distracts one stood out the most to me .the one of the districts that appeared to me as one of the most interesting was Chinatown.
            Chinatown has a rich history, and has become a very important part of San Francisco. Chinatown was first started in the year 1848,when the first Chinese immigrants started coming over. The first inhabitants of this part of the city were mainly from Hoisanese China. After a while a lot of different groups of people from China come over to San Francisco to live in Chinatown. This caused some problems and races wars started to erupt. Race wars were a big problem in this area, combined with the low income.  Chinatown eventually got their own squad of police, to help with the problem.            
The naiboughhood of China town is one of the working class parts of the city, while it is not as rich as some of the other parts, has a rich culture. Many immigrants from chins came during the 1960s,so with this influx of people made it grow even more

Chinatown has gained the nickname city with in a city because of its large size. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest one in America. This one has managed to keep a lot of the language and cultural aspects alive. By keeping more of their culture that originated back in China in this area is make makes San Francisco Chinatown unique and better than most others. When anyone visits China town it is hard not to be amazed by the buildings there. The buildings are beautiful and interestingly designed, you feel as if you are almost in China.
The signage in Chinatown is different than in most parts of the city. One of the first differences would be how almost all the signs are in Chinese. Because of the lower income of people who live in this area the signs is directed toward them, and completely different than a sleek sign of a store in Union square.  A lot of the buildings in China town are bight colors, which chat the eye of people as they are walking by.
            The signage in Chinatown is mostly old fashioned and not that high tech as that some stores have today. There are a lot of independent owned businesses, and their signs are not as big and eye grabbing as some other chain business. Technology has a big role to ply in how signs are made and used today. Some signs light up, flash and changed colors to grab people’s attention. Other signs are using more complicated art work in new ways. Also signs can be put at a high height to be seen by the people driving in cars. The way we view signage today is we aspect it to be bright and flashy with a lot of different aspects, just to get our attention. The image from the past that I chose was Chinatown Sacramento street. I like how even with the quality of the photo you can tell that not sigs were big and flashy like today. In contrast to this I found and image of today in Chinatown of a light up storefront sign. This shows how times have changed in the way we attract customers.
China town has a rich interesting culture and history. Out of the three districts that we visited this was the one that I thought was the most interesting to me. The culture here is strong and hopefully it stays that way, so it can continue to be an important part of San Francisco.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Union square

            The three districts that we have visited so far all have very different characteristics and qualities to them. Some of the districts that we have explored so far are the area around USF, golden gate park, Ocean beach and most recently the Market street area. It has been interesting to see the similarities and differences of each of these areas. Now that we have visited each of these districts it becomes easier to see how much just one street over can make in the atmosphere.
            Market Street and especially Union Square is a place that I spend a good amount of time at. I mostly got here to shop and eat; when I take a trip down to Union I stay in that area and do not wonder off. On this trip that we took this was the first time that I have seen was just down the other street from Union Square. On one street it is all high end stores and mostly people with money shopping and have a good time. Once you turn down just another street you will find a whole different world. The area is filled with run down old and beat up buildings. Also there are homeless people lining the street. The area is very different from Union Square; the signage here is directed toward a completely different audience. The signs is very run down and old many with broken with large wholes in them.
            It becomes easy to tell that the singe in each area is directed at s certain audience. The signage in the tenderloin district has sings that are directed towards the people that live there. They are more run down and not taken care of like that ones in Union Square. The people in this area are mostly poor or homeless. Some of the signage in this area is informational sings trying to prevent things, for example the spread of HIV.I was shocked to see this the area for my self the signage here was very run down and not anything like union Square which is just one simple turn away. There was a abundance of old hotels in the Tenderloin district. These hotels have become apart of the tenderloin district in how they would become a place for people to stay and live when they were out on their luck and need a place to stay.
            The signage in Union Square is directed at a completely different audience. The signage is mostly for high-end stores; these signs are flashy and bright. They are up kept nicely, with mostly the purpose for trying to get people to buy things. They are directed more toward the rich people who can afford to buy these things. it is amazing to see the difference, when you pay attention to the way the singe change drastically in from  just one street over.
            When comparing the three districts one image from each sticks out in my mind. The first image that I found significant would be all the directional sign around the USF campus. These are important to help people find their way. Another image would be the Maps in Golden Gate park these just like the signs around USfF help people not familiar with the area find there way around. Also the run down hotel signs fro the tenderloin district really stuck out to me. They are a part of the history in that area, which makes it what, it is today. All of these different districts each have some thing unique to offer. But in some ways they are alike how no matter where you go to is important to have directional signage to help inform people where to go and where to not go. The most interesting aspect is how one district blends in the next one. How you can be walking in the city and come across an huge change in the atmosphere by just turning down one street.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ocean beach

Ocean beach is more than just a simple tourist distention, it has a rich culture and back ground. This beach played an important role in helping get America back on its feet after the depression. Artist were employed to help create the beautiful art work that is seen in the beach chalet. What is now viewed as a tourist attraction, was once an important part of American history, in helping get out of the depression.
            This site is historically significant in many ways; one main way that it is significant is getting tourists to come. This amazing beach and building became a huge attraction for the city of San Francisco. Ocean beach become another reasons for people to come in to the city and spend money. This was exactly what the economy needed to that time, for the unemployed to become employed and also for people to spend money. This was a great way to attract people to come and visit who actually had the money to spend. Also by creating ocean beach and the beach chalet, there was a new need for transportation to this new cite. Build new transportation to this cite was a good way to boots the economy during this depression state.
            Another main reason that ocean beach and the beach chalet were important historically was how it employed artist. The fact that artist were being able to show case their great works was very significant. We can still go there today and look at these amazing pieces of art. They are like a view in to the past of the lifestyle and way the people of that time lived. This is very important that the artist of that time could be immortalized in this building. Some of these artist would never have been given this opportunity to get there work known if it was not for this WPA program.
            The WPA contributed greatly to the culture of San Francisco by funding a lot of new artwork. San Francisco was already known to be a beautiful city now it was also a place to come see beautiful and unique artwork. The WPA funded artwork like the murals at the beach chalet, are a representation of the culture at this time period. They give people an idea who comes to visit today what the rich lived like back then.
            The signage at Ocean beach created a sense of place by letting people know where they were. The sings indicted things like what direction to go in and also what times people can be on the beach. In the beach chalet the sing helped explain whom the artist was of the murals and what years they were create. Without out these signage systems which give the visitor information, so people could understand what they are looking at or where to go. I was very interested by all the murals sprawled out over the walls. I love how they made this whole building a giant work of art.
            Ocean beach and the beach chalet are very important to the history of San Francisco and its culture. It brought a new life of art to the city, which in turn brought a whole new group of tourist. This project was a great help in getting the city out of the depression and getting people back to work, and show casing some great artist.