Overpass World


Down where the northern slope of San Francisco's Potrero Hill flattens into the southwestern edge of South of Market, two big elevated freeways merge–Interstate 80, which begins its cross-continent trip about a mile west of the Bay Bridge, and U.S. 101, which emerges from its southbound passage on city streets and heads toward San Jose and Los Angeles. Below the freeways are a maze of streets where at least two of the city's clashing grid systems come together. I've worked in the area on and off for nearly a decade, and when I take the North Berkeley casual carpool over to the city, I hike through the heart of the area beneath the freeways–Overpass World, you might call it. It's bordered by an interior design district to the east and to the west by jewelry, antique, and auction houses. Overpass World itself is full of parking lots, invisible clouds of particulates spewed out by the hundreds of thousands of vehicles that pass overhead every day, homeless camp sites, and the occasional attention-grabbing graffito. And regarding those last couple of items, above is a scene from my walk into work on Friday morning, on San Bruno Avenue near 15th Street.

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