Howdy! I’m Russell and I’m a South Carolina native. My roots are all over the Palmetto State, but I’ve called San Francisco home since 1997. After I moved here, I created this very site, which I called a fake travel agency, as a way to entice my Carolina friends and cousins to come out and see me.
If you’re from South or North Carolina, and were lucky enough to get a rare ticket to the Super Bowl, welcome to San Francisco. I don’t think this city compares to any city back home, and you will certainly see more protesting (and here) than you ever have (we aren’t that happy with our mayor, SFPD chief, and all the apparent corruption that helped build these new, shiny skyscrapers). Once you’ve been to Super Bowl City – which is NOT local SF – I thought I’d give you all a list of San Franciscan-related Carolina tourist sites to visit during all that other time you have on your hands. They’re mostly connected to South Carolina. I’m sorry to say that North Carolina gets the short end of the stick here in the City by the Bay.
First, let me go ahead and warn you that most Californians have NO IDEA that there are even TWO Carolinas. And you’ll have to tell folks you’re from the Southeast, because coming from the South in Northern California means you live in Los Angeles, San Diego, etc. And don’t expect to find any decent sweet iced tea here either. A few places get close, but I make my own if I want the real, teeth-aching deal.
OK. Let’s get to some fun, quirky, out-of-the Super Bowl City/Union Square/Fisherman’s Wharf, Carolina-related places for you to drag your lazy ass around to if you’re here for the Super Bowl:
- The Moultrie Flag. Above the knobby trees in Civic Center Plaza in front of our City Hall (It’s bigger than the state house in Columbia!), fly 18 early-American flags. Look for the blue flag, which Colonial soldiers flew when they protected Sullivan’s Island from the British. After our beloved palmetto was added, this became the South Carolina state flag.
- San Francisco has a Carolina Street. You can get there by hopping on the outbound Fillmore bus from 16th St. Mission BART. Not much to tell you about Carolina Street, other than it was most likely named after a battleship. City planners probably didn’t want to confuse folks with both a North and South Carolina Street, so this is what you’ll get. As for something to do nearby, there’s Thee Parkside and Bottom of the Hill. Bottom of the Hill is one of my favorite music venues in the city, complete with gig art, funky decor, and beer.
- Anton Refregier‘s amazing murals in the Rincon Annex (near Super Bowl City) show the history of California. There’s one specific panel that always makes me think of South Carolina: “Riot Scene/Civil War Days (1848).” A plaque at the site says it all: “Panel #18. During the Civil War, San Francisco split their allegiances between pro slavery Senator William M.Gwin and Union supporter, Senator David C.Broderick. This controversy over slavery led to violence, feuds, and shootings, but no major clashes. Sentiment went towards the Union after Lincoln was elected. California’s predominantly Yankee population went on to support the Northern economy with products such as gold, wool and wheat.” Extra points: If you find anything in SF named after Gwin, I’ll buy you a lottery ticket! Extra Fact: FoundSF has an essay describing a “sharp rebuke” in the U.S. Congress by Broderick against pro-slavery South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond. Turning Hammond’s words around, Hammond suggested that the working class could rise up against the “aristocratic slave owners.”
- Homesick for a Meat and Three? There are two places I’ll tell you about: The first is Brenda’s, which has several locations here in the city. Brenda is from Louisiana, so the food is authentic. I don’t like their flavored sweet tea though. Then there’s Hard Knox, which gives you huge Carolina-sized portions. I like their fried chicken.
- The Banker’s Heart, 555 California Street. In front of the former home of Bank of America, which you all know is now headquartered in Charlotte, NC, sits a cold, dark sculpture by Masayuki Nagare. Locals see the stone mound as the symbol that counters the optimism of the bull sculpture in New York City. Every April 1, costumed revelers remind themselves how stupid capitalism is by throwing their own money at the sculpture. Do the same and pray for a quickening of the looming fall of the Silicon Valley unicorns.
- You know who Tyler Florence is, right? An Upstate boy from Greenville County (I met him a few times back in high school), Tyler became a superstar chef and decided to call the Bay Area his home. Don’t expect to see him anywhere. Tyler’s become a bit reclusive; he doesn’t have his own website or Facebook page. And his Wikipedia page is out of date. Guess he’s focusing on the sweet family life up in the North Bay. Here in the city, you can get some more fried chicken at his Wayfair Tavern in the Financial District. It isn’t too far from the Super Bowl City mayhem. I can’t remember if they have good sweet tea.
- Hall McAllister statue, Civic Center (right around the corner from the Moultrie flag). OK, Hall McAllister isn’t from either Carolina state, but he was born in Savannah, GA. That’s close enough! Other than being one of the first Federal judges in California, he must’ve been well-loved enough to have a street named after him. He’s facing all the major courts, as well as Hastings Law, reminding them to uphold the law.
That’s it! I have racked my brain for more Carolina-related items here in San Francisco. If you know any, please let me know. Maybe I’ll see you around the next time I head back to the Upstate. Until then, good luck at Santa Clara, enjoy the protests if you see them (hell, why not join in… when in Rome…), and Go Panthers.