Observation Deck


Hamon Tower has marvelous views of San Francisco

The three friends walked across the atrium of the De Young, and found the elevator to the Hamon Tower. In the elevator, Tal was standing in front of Katie. She smelled him and smiled, his scent was familiar to her. They had been through a lot together, and his presence warmed her. His hair was newly washed and bunched with an elastic band. Bored, feeling playful she gently tugged on his shiny black ponytail.

“What was that for?” He turned around, smiling in surprise.

“I’ll tell you when we get off the elevator.”

Neal was oblivious to the fleeting flirtation. He gestured to Tal. “What were you looking for?”

“What do you mean, Neal?”

“You were bored in the gallery. Do you still want to go to Kha’s Tomb in the Legion of Honor? There are real artifacts in there. Metal tools. It’s ten minutes away, and it’s near the Cliff House. We can go for a drink there afterward.”

"Sounds good to me," Tal replied as the elevator dinged and the door opened.

“Oh, it's beautiful!” Katie stepped out of the elevator and twirled in the center of the tower surrounded by a panoramic view. The entire floor had floor to ceiling windows looking out onto San Francisco in all directions. They gathered at the windows.

“I can see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.” Katie loved it.

The group oohed and aahed at the three hundred sixty-degree vista and separated as each focused on different points of view. Entire neighborhoods were laid out in front of them.

The tower was designed so the observation deck was aligned pretty much with the city streets, allowing the guests to follow avenues running straight away from them. Thousands of buildings anchored the streets, while green treetops broke through the man made structures. That was on the side looking to the bay and the Golden Gate Strait, the maritime entryway into San Francisco Bay. Following the strait into the bay itself the view was lost by the treed hills, only the top of the Golden Gate towers could be seen.

Further east the view to the bay was lost as the hills of downtown rose to block the view. Walking clockwise around the observation room they continued to look down upon thousands of rooftops and multitudes of boulevards. Katie could make out the weird pyramid of the very tall and pointed Transamerica Building, the highest building in the downtown center.

Continuing to her right, the view focused closer, opening the scenery into the park itself. She could see the esplanade between the De Young and the Academy of Sciences with many people walking on the sidewalks. They looked like ants, and the cars looked like Tonka toys.

Neal stood next to her.

“Look, they've planted the entire roof of that building.” She pointed to a low building directly across from them. “It looks like Hobbit houses with port holes.”

“It’s the living roof of the Academy of Sciences. It’s world famous. It is the biggest structure to have a low carbon footprint.”

“Really, Neal, that’s cool, but you sound like a salesman.”

“I’m passionate about this. It collects rainwater, and creates a habitat for plants native to the peninsula.”

“What’s the tower on the hill in the background? It looks like a giant red and white BBQ skewer with those spires at the end.” She pointed to a giant metal tower.

“Oh, that’s Sutro Tower, built on Twin Peaks forty years ago.”

“I think it’s pretty garish, it looks like something out of the old TV show, 'The Jetson's.' Kind of a futuristic nightmare, don't you think?”

“I guess I've gotten used to it. I can see it from all over SFO, and it's right there when I come through the Caldecott Tunnel. But take a second to look past the paint job at the structure. See how the three legs slope upward to the tower's waist, then flare back out again to reach their apex, how the three cross-members intersect at the top, and stretch slightly out beyond the vertical members.”

“So? I think it’s ugly, no matter what you say.”

Neal's sense of pride in his home city was bruised. “Well so is Alcatraz prison, if you want to pick older architecture to pieces. We have to look at that every day. Whether or not any of us like how it is shaped or its aesthetic effect on the city's skyline, when I enter the city by car, it is the first landmark I can see from a great distance. When I see Sutro Tower, I know I'm almost home. So I guess the tower is home to me.”She let him have his moment, then smiled, and patted his back condescendingly. Moments later she wandered off to look at another spectacular view.

Katie saw Tal’s slim, dark silhouette outlined on the northern wall and she walked across the room to join him. He was peering at the Golden Gate towers. She came up behind him and touched his back. Then, moving closer, she wrapped her arm around his waist.

“What’s this about, Katie?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m glad you’re here; glad you’re with me. Neal is driving me crazy.”

He chuckled, and nodded. “Yeah, he does get tedious sometimes.”

“Honey Rose likes you, Tal,” Katie wasn't sure why she said this. Maybe she was testing the water, testing herself.

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Hamon Observation Deck, Chapter 13

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