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By Louis Martin
IT IS EARLY June and there are a few tourists walking north along Leavenworth towards the Cannery and all that tourist stuff at the edge of the Bay. It is a bright clear day with just little white puffs of drifting clouds. It is such a pretty day, in fact, that it is hard to imagine any other kind of day here in the City.
Gently up, gently down, across Green Street, Union, Filbert ... Like a country road through the City where the trees are tall apartment buildings.
At Lombard some tourists stop and shoot pictures of the steady stream of cars winding its way down the street that twists like a snake among lovely beds of flowers. Cars and flowers - a delicate balance these days. But here the scene delights the eye like a postcard from out of the past.
And there are more lovely flowers, some dazzling red, along Leavenworth as it rises and falls and rises again before plunging down towards Fishermen's Wharf and the Cannery.
WHAT A WHARF, what a cannery these days.
If you are going to the cannery, bring your pocketbook - your safe if you have one - and do not expect anything canned other than entertainment and theme park motifs.
On the third floor of this rebuilt cannery that looks almost brand new you will perhaps spot the "Museum of the City of San Francisco"—a rather formal name for the small personable museum among bars advertising Margaritas and shops hawking trinkets.
If you don't see a sign for the museum and you can't spot it among the Maitais and souvenirs, stop in a shop. "Oh, yeah, I think on the third floor in the back."
Don't be discouraged. It's there, and it's a gem.
San Francisco might do better for an important collection of historical photos and artifacts. It's a little like setting up a temple in a red-brick shopping mall. But it does attract people - even if they smell of Anchor Steam and gin. So it may be very San Francisco after all.
NOW IF THIS all seems a little strange to you, look at some of the photos in the museum.
Robert Cole, a spokesperson for the museum, points out one that was doctored up by the City that "knows how" after the '06 quake. Cole, dressed in blue blazer, wears the wry city smile of one who knows what and what not to believe.
The photo shows a happy intact city with, however, several fires burning in the background. The idea, explains Cole, is that the earthquake damage is merely moderate, that it is the fire that destroyed the city.
The idea behind this notion is simple, explains Cole: insurance claims. San Francisco did not have earthquake insurance; it did, however, have fire insurance. Therefore the city was destroyed by fire, not by an earthquake. Got it? Moreover, who would be so dumb as to supply investment money to rebuild a city that was destroyed by an earthquake—and that surely will be again? Not many.
Yes, ask any San Franciscan on a bright sunny day when the tourists are out snapping shots of streets winding precariously down towards the Bay:
"Earthquake or fire?"
"Oh, fire, sir, definitely fire."
Enjoy the day, enjoy the view. While they last.

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(Photo courtesy of the Museum of the City of San Francisco)