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Best View San Francisco 2005 -

Ninth Floor of the de Young Museum

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden (at 10th Avenue), Golden Gate Park, www.thinker.org/deyoung

If you don't like Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron's design for the new de Young Museum, that's fine. It really does look like a rusting aircraft carrier. If you're pissed off about the Exhibition Concourse Big Dig, that's understandable, too. And being concerned about the additional car traffic the huge new parking garage will bring into the park wouldn't make you a fanatic. However reasonable are these reasons for pique at financier Warren Hellman's museum project, it would be stupid to allow these disappointments to keep you away from what will be (once it opens on Oct. 15) one of San Francisco's greatest new amenities -- the free observation area on the ninth floor of the site's tower. Visitors won't have to pay an entrance fee to ride up to the best view outside Twin Peaks. The tower pokes high enough above the foliage to offer a view of the Golden Gate, Mount Tam, the ocean, the Farallon Islands, downtown, and the city's southern peaks. Though it's open to interpretation whether the view, the museum, and the accompanying garage will have been worth all the trouble, that's no reason not to enjoy what you can of them.

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