From now until January 18 at the Legion of Honor you can step into an 18th century Georgian mansion as part of their special exhibit, Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House. Although you will not be greeted by servants a la Downtown Abbey, if you can’t visit the real Houghton Hall in Norfolk, England, it’s worth the trip to see the scrolls of Chinoiserie wallpaper, the paintings, porcelain, jeweled crowns, furniture, and other artifacts of wealth that the Walpole and Cholmondeley families amassed. While the John Singer Sargeant portraits were superior as usual, I was most struck by Théodore Géricault portrait (above) of thoroughbreds – horses posed to resemble the upper echelon to my mind.
Traveling Companions (TC) were my wife and friends from Portland, OR so it was time for some Touch Your Heart (literal Chinese meaning of dim sum) at Ton Kiang, http://www.tonkiang.net/ heartily recommended (FC and I have lunched there a half dozen times).
Mosaic Stairway to the Sky – Off the Usual Tourist Track
Ten minutes away, on Moraga Street and 16th Avenue in the Sunset district a tiled staircase of composed of 163 mosaic panels ascends to the sky – and 15th Avenue. It’s a dazzling sight as there are so many gorgeous individual elements to take in along with the stunning overall designs. I forgot to count how many flights of steps – 6-8 is my estimate but will count next time. If I don’t caught up again. There is too much to take in so multiple visits are in order.
The staircase was a giant community effort and has embedded tiles of the people who worked gratis to create it. The day we were there volunteers were clearing away brush and replanting the beds to the side of the steps.
Once you reach the top of the staircase you spy a park above. Climbing an ordinary set of cement steps with old wooden bannisters, you reach Grand View Park which lives up to its name with a 360° view of the city. Also worth re-visiting.