Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Little Carmel and San Francisco History

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I'm participating in this year's NANOWRIMO contest and my novel is moving along. 50,000 words in 30 days requires consistency and the ability to scream down the "inner editor" who pops up to tell you that you're writing rubbish.  After all, the idea is to produce a very rough draft of a novel during the month of November.  I successfully passed the half way point, both calendar-wise and word count-wise.  Now I need to pour it on for the last half of the book.  My novel is historical fiction, set during the turn of the 20th century in San Francisco and Carmel.  This requires some research on my part -- how did they get around at that time? What forms of communication did they have?  How did they dress?  Carmel has always been rather Bohemian, a place for artists and writers to gather.  And of course, the great earthquake of San Francisco occurred in 1906, and it will have a role in my novel.

Ocean Avenue is the main drag leading from Highway 1, through downtown Carmel, and ending at the Pacific Ocean.  We lived in Carmel for a time, in a house tucked in the copse of trees near the top left of the photo below.  I have walked from our house there, down Ocean Avenue to the stores.  It's lovely, but a bit steep going home.  This photo is from 1905.  Note the horse and buggy. 

I took the photo below earlier this year.  It is the same section of Ocean Avenue, but looking from the opposite direction, in other words looking down the hill rather than up the hill.  What struck me were the trees they planted down the middle of Ocean Avenue!  They have grown majestically.  The first tree on the other side of the bell you see below is used as the town's Christmas tree each year.  It has been a tradition in our family to go to the town Christmas Tree Lighting, and we have attended Carmel's and Monterey's in years past. 
As any San Franciscan knows, while the quake created extensive damage, it was the fires that broke out afterwards that really caused major destruction.  In doing my research, I found a map that showed how far reaching the fire extended.  Can you find the Ferry Building toward the bottom of the map with the clock tower?  It is the same clock tower I took a picture of in my last post on November 12th.
Besides serving as a ferry station, the Ferry Building now houses an active marketplace, restaurants, and office spaces.  It survived the Great Earthquake of 1906.

It is always interesting to find familiar places on old maps, like where my daughters currently live and work in the city.  San Francisco. Monterey. and Carmel have such rich histories and writing about them reminds me of why I love living here, earthquakes and all.


  1. Sounds like a great story. Are you considering publishing when you finish?

    1. It will take a lot of editing, but ultimately that is my hope and goal.