San Francisco's greatest portals
October 3, 2012 12:01 PM   Subscribe

SFFilter! I have a friend who has a photography assignment due on Monday -- six photos, with the theme of portals/entrances. They need to take photos of six distinctive entranceways/ doorways/ portals/ passages in San Francisco. Places that open up to amazing, distinctive sights and vistas... possibly even some outdoor locations, garden gates, etc. that are semi-enclosed, and have interesting subjects behind them. They'd especially appreciate Art Deco subjects and locations within walking distance of the downtown. Can the MeFi hivemind recommend some great portals to shoot, with a sense of mystery, wonder, and excitement on what lies beyond?
posted by markkraft to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The PacBell building (another angle), Shell building, and 450 Sutter all have similar grand deco-style entrances, and you could easily find three more like them by walking around downtown. I don't know whether they'd inspire very creative shots though; they're sort of straightforward.

Xanadu Gallery by Union Square has a geometric Frank Lloyd Wright-designed entrance.

There are also some less architecturally distinctive options that might be fun - the "no parking" signs on garages everywhere in SF, the tunnels, the metal gates of the Sunset, that kind of thing.
posted by dreamyshade at 12:21 PM on October 3, 2012

The entrance to the Li Po Lounge (916 Grant Ave.).
posted by ryanshepard at 12:28 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cayuga Park (admittedly not in downtown--it's in Excelsior off Geneva) has some nice weirdness. It's full of wood carvings of all sorts, and has a little gate that says "The Garden of Eden". I got some really nice shots there, and it's definitely different.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:49 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Hearst Building is downtown/FiDi.
posted by vickyverky at 12:53 PM on October 3, 2012

I know there aren't any actual doors, but for some reason the Sutro Baths seem super relevant to this. I believe that the 2 Clement Muni bus will get you here.

Dashiell Hammett's Apartment. Relevant because he wrote detective fiction in the 1930's. The Maltese Falcon....

Coit Tower, take the 39 Coit right up there. The building is so cool and inside are WPA murals.

Iconic for sure, but a wealth of neat photos.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:54 PM on October 3, 2012

Portals of the Past -- Golden Gate Park.

The Russ Building also has a pretty impressive entrance.
posted by trip and a half at 1:11 PM on October 3, 2012

Also, can't believe no one has mentioned the Chinatown Gates.
posted by trip and a half at 1:13 PM on October 3, 2012

How about the Golden Gate itself?

edit: from the Pacific Ocean, if possible.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:45 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was blown away by wedding pictures a couple took at San Francisco City Hall with the beautiful architectural details, particularly the ones taken in front of the various entrances. I can't believe people actually get to work in a building that gorgeous!
posted by loquat at 2:41 PM on October 3, 2012

Berwick Place in SOMA is both entered through a narrow passageway and has the appearance of portals (the murals look like the view through the arches they are painted under)
posted by animalrainbow at 3:09 PM on October 3, 2012

The Ghiberti Doors at Grace Cathedral.
posted by carmicha at 3:16 PM on October 3, 2012

Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.
posted by Zed at 4:07 PM on October 3, 2012

Art Deco + gardens + vistas = Telegraph Hill! It offers beautiful views from many spots and there are some classy Art Deco apartment buildings there too. The Marchant Gardens off the Filbert Steps, and a few private yards off the Greenwich Steps, make for lovely framing. From the Filbert Steps walk along the funky wooden sidewalks and look for cool doorways - there's a slightly otherwordly feel to these little cul-de-sacs. There's a short walkway off the Greenwich Steps that ends in a filigree iron gate which frames a lovely view of the bay. Just walk around - photo opportunities are everywhere.
posted by Quietgal at 4:38 PM on October 3, 2012

Vistas: Knock around the Presidio a bit--there are ton there. Also: Land's End and Sutro Heights Park

Entrance: a bit of a cheat, but maybe? You drive in from Marin, your friend shoots the Waldo Tunnel framing the City like a freaking stage proscenium!
posted by smirkette at 7:17 PM on October 3, 2012

I like the entryway at 235 Montgomery (self-link photo!).
posted by clorox at 7:23 PM on October 3, 2012

Only having visited SF twice, I'm fascinated by the old theatres turned into parking garages in the Mission.
posted by buttercup at 9:28 PM on October 3, 2012

Thanks everyone! Due to time limitations, we narrowed the trip to City Hall, 450 Sutter, the Chinatown gates, the Shell building, The Russ Building, and also to the Palace Hotel. The whole trip took about two hours to photograph, but less than an hour to walk.

That said, it's great having all the other suggestions as well... I wouldn't be surprised if some of them turned up in later assignments!
posted by markkraft at 1:35 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

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