San Francisco In Miniature

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When the opportunity arose to see this magnificent wonderland of ingenuity and craftsmanship while still under development, I grabbed my camera with enthusiasm. As soon as I arrived, I got as many close-up photos as possible in the limited time I had. They didn’t like me hanging around taking pictures for a long time because I might get in the way of all the activity going on. Many structures were still being assembled at the time of my photos, especially some high-rises and bridges, but everything I saw was absolutely amazing and seemed to be coming along quite nicely.

Some of these pictures aren’t the greatest, but, like I said, I did the best I could in the limited time I had.

Neighborhood Closeups

The detail right down to each little street was amazing. I tried to imagine how much detailed work had gone into crafting every single car. I even found some little scooters on the streets.

I tried to find my dad’s old house but it was just out of reach of where I could get to with my camera, so I got a shot of the other side of Russian Hill with some amazing detail down to every little shrub. I spotted Stanley Satowitz’s Yerba Buena Lofts building in the SoMA neighborhood and had to get a shot of it. I wish I could have gotten a bit closer, but obviously I couldn’t get right up close to every single building–that is unless I was to actually walk around on the surface! But getting onto the actual surface from where I was would have done quite a bit of damage.

The Bay & The Golden Gate

I was able to get close-ups of Yerba Buena Island, Alcatraz, Treasure Island, and the western span of the Bay Bridge (the eastern span still had quite a bit of construction going on and didn’t look too great). I even spotted a few little windsurfer guys, but I couldn’t get my camera close enough to get a good shot. When I spotted a little marina and examined all the individual boats, I couldn’t help but think about how much effort went into creating each one of them down to every detail.

I still can’t get over how perfectly the Golden Gate Bridge was done. Truly a work of art. I took quite a few pictures of the bridge from every angle I could get. Check out the amazing detail on Fort Point at the base of the bridge. You can even see the cannons on top of the fort.

The East Bay

Across the bay, I found the Tribune Tower and got right up close to it. The clock keeps actual time (well, just a couple minutes slow) and I hear that it lights up in red neon at dark. Very cool.

I found a Bart train zipping around the tracks and even making stops at the stations. I could see the signs blinking when the train pulled into the station. Beep beep. Even the freight trains were moving around in the switch-yard. The network of freeways was really cool, but notice that there’s not a single car in my close-up shot–I’m sure they’ll eventually be some cars there.

What really blew my mind was the cranes in the Port of Oakland that were actually moving cargo containers up and down!


I would have liked to have gotten close-up shots of more San Francisco famous landmarks, but unfortunately they didn’t let me get up close to all of them.

I managed to get all the way around to the ocean side of the city and I loved the detail of the Cliff House and the Sutro Baths ruins. And all the cars lining the steep roadway was a nice touch here.

Alcatraz looked amazing. Obviously a great deal of time went into the lighthouse–the light at the top really flashes! Notice all the figures scattered about in the yard here. Simply amazing.

I only had a minute or two to check out the Marina District area. After I started snapping pictures of the Palace of Fine Arts, a voice crackled over the intercom telling me it was time to go. I reluctantly put away my camera and headed home.

Yerba Buena Island
Pier 31
Bart Train
Russian Hill House
Berkeley Marina
Treasure Island
The Cliff House
Golden Gate Bridge
Fort Point
Russian Hill
Coit Tower
Billionaires' Row
Congregation Emanu-El
Jackson Square
The Transamerica Pyramid
The Palace of Fine Arts
Toy Ship
Cargo Ship
Port of Oakland
Little School
East Bay Freeway
The Oakland Tribune Tower
Little Trains
Little Tunnel
Little Lafayette Park Hotel
Little #1078
11:41 AM

This photo appears at exactly 11:41 AM on my Clockograph, a photographic timepiece.

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How To See It For Yourself

While every word in this post is true, there’s nothing small about this San Francisco.

I took every one of these shots out the window of my Piper Archer airplane over the past six years of the real life-sized San Francisco. I have digitally manipulated the photos to trick the brain into believing they are close-ups of tiny models. This is done by creating a narrow depth of field simulating how a picture would look if shot close up with a wide aperture lens. To enhance the effect, I also removed shadows, over-saturated colors, sharpened edges, and smoothed out textures of things like water surfaces.

So to see it for yourself, save up all your bread and fly Trans Love Airways to San Francisco, USA and hitch a ride in a local plane, chopper, or dirigible. It will be worth it. Isn’t the real thing better than a miniature anyway?