San Francisco is so picturesque largely because of plate tectonics (the hills) and the ballsy T-square manipulations of great thinkers in tweed trousers (turn-of-the-20th-century architects). Two of the latter were the Reid Brothers, who built many fine monolithic, here-forever buildings in the squat, huge, imposing-but-with-many-fine-details style known as Italian Renaissance. They built the Fairmont, for one, and the Music Concourse, and also many fine Bay Area theaters, most of which are now closed or struggling to survive, such as the Balboa and Oakland's Grand Lake. For a while, their Call building downtown was a West Coast icon, until the ornate four-story dome was lopped off in 1938 to make a few dozen depressing offices. Its all very ... boring, frankly, to just read about. But on the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Architecture Ride The Reid Brothers in S.F., you get to ride your bike as you learn about history, visiting Reid buildings in the Financial District, Pac Heights, NOPA, and Golden Gate Park while soaking up all the prettiness.
Sat., Jan. 16, 1:30 p.m., 2010