Friday, July 25, 2014

Adventuring // San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco City Hall // At Midday
^ Looks a bit fish-eye, doesn't it? Nope, just the angle you get when you're on the sidewalk! ^
San Francisco City Hall // Rotunda Stairs
San Francisco City Hall // View from the Rotunda Stairs
San Francisco City Hall // Side Columns
San Francisco City Hall // Gold Lions
^ Roar. ^
San Francisco City Hall // Northern Light Court
 ^ The Northern Light Court. ^
San Francisco City Hall // Old Technology
^ Ohhohoho. Also, unintentional selfie... ^
San Francisco City Hall // In the Afternoon

Spent more than four hours in the Hall of Records {aka the city assessor's office} looking for old, official, family documents.


Who: The Parentals & I 
Where: The Assessor/Recorder Office in San Francisco City Hall
When: Tuesday at 12:20 PM 

The Place: When you walk into city hall and turn to the right, there's a short flight of stairs and a doorway that leads into the Assessor/Recorder office. Inside, you can find every. single. official. document. ever. signed. in San Francisco, dating back to 1906 {if you know your SF history, you'll know that the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire probably took out the rest of the documents from before}.

If you want to look up documents via the computer {using search terms like names, dates, parcel numbers, or document type}, they're straight ahead of you. If you want to go oldoldOLD school, you can look up documents via microfische to your left. Printing costs ten cents a page {which is normal for libraries and college campuses as well} and is right beside the door when you enter. To talk to a real person if you need help, the main desk is in the middle of the room.

What We Did: We had to find some old documents for family stuff. And it took FOREVER to find it all. Mostly because the system is super complicated and not entirely conducive to getting in and out quickly. Even with my awesome-possum research skills {hey, those years of college paper writing and marketing internshipping weren't for nothing}, we were there when the employees started locking doors and kicking people out for the day.

When we first got there, Daddy and I decided to wander around the building since 1: why not, we're there anyways and 2: I wanted to take pictures because that's what I do. Do you know how many people get married at city hall in the span of an hour? A LOT. As un-fun as our own task was, it was made marginally better by hearing bursts of cheering echo down the hall from the rotunda. Too cute.

I learned how to use microfische. So if I somehow get transported back to the sixties and get a job as a reference librarian, I can now operate the microfische machine. Whoot. {Actually, those machines are probably from the nineties or something. But still. Wow, they're loud and large and clunky and beige}.

Tips: Just so you know...
+ Bags are searched at the main entrance. Don't be sketchy.

+ When searching for documents, be aware that the program running on those computers is... Wow. O.o Anything before 2000 you have to find manually. Which doesn't sound tooTOO bad until you realize that means locating one single page out of tens of thousands of pages of scanned documents. Oy. Bring patience. And your glasses.

+ Therefore, when you park your car and are wondering how much to feed the meter, overestimate. A few cents aren't worth you having to drop everything and dash back out to the car to feed the meter.

+ When electronically searching for documents, be forewarned that the search program only allows you to look for one parameter at a time. None of this "Advanced Search" business. For example, if you know the document you're looking for is a deed, signed by A. Jones, in 1987, you can only type in one of those search terms. And there are a bajillion deeds on record, a ton of documents created and signed during 1987, and a dozen A. Jones' on file, so you're going to be there FOREVAHHHH. ):

+ Photography is allowed inside city hall, and if you have the time {which we didn't}, you can take a free guided tour of the place. The tours start right behind the security desk.

+ Cheer on a newly wedded couple. It seems like fun. Also, their attire is interesting to note as well, since these people figure, "If we're going to skip the traditional wedding and be unconventional, let's BE UNCONVENTIONAL." Daddy said he saw red dresses and gold dresses and all sorts of things while going back outside to pay the parking meter.

Conclusion: Since we were there in an official capacity and not as tourists or sightseers, the pictures I took were super rushed and not very well thought out. Hopefully we can return another day when we're not freaking out about getting everything done before city hall closes, so that we can see all there is to see. (:


San Francisco City Hall
1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl #190
San Francisco, CA 94102

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