It took 2 1/2 years, working long hours everyday, to complete the RVing the Bay Area DVD. I had expected it to be done within a year. But, two things happened..first, I really didn't expect that there were so many MUSTSEE locations and attractions to cover. I could not have you buy the DVD and after watching it wonder why I didn't cover Lands End, or the U.S.S. Hornet or Jack London, etc. etc. The list grew and grew. There is so much to see in the bay area. But now, I don't believe you will wonder why something isn't covered.. We did extensive stories on all you would expect us to do and more.
But, a second, surprising thing happened. As I did my research it became clear to me that more important cultural revolutions that changed the world, took place in the bay area, than any place on earth. And, that included many fields. What I had to answer for you, the viewer of RVing the Bay area was "Why here?" Why is the bay area the most creative place on earth?!! It took over 2 years of investigation, conversations with some of the great historical writers and authorities of the bay to come to a theory which I submit to you on the DVD. The RVing the Bay Area DVD was begun as a guide for you, and it is. But, to get the most out of your visit to this blessed place, knowing the story behind it adds great meaning to your visit.
Levi Strauss absolutely changed fashion for the next 150 years plus with his "levis." The work clothes he invented for the miners in 1850 eventually made a worldwide statement that you could look good and be comfortable at the same time. While he was in the bay area,
Mark Twain totally changed literature world wide. His ""The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was published first in the leading magazine in New York City. For the first time, a writer wrote dialogue like people spoke. He painstakingly captured sound on paper. Literature was never the same after that. There was another revolution in literature which happened in the bay area when Jack Kerouac and his friends took us on the road. And, a third occurred when Ken Kesey invented "gonzo" journalism.
And, oh, the inventions in technology. A radio hero of mine for years has been Doc Herold who broadcast the first regularly scheduled radio show every Wednesday night from his office in San Jose in 1909.. Shocking to find that the final invention by Lee Deforrest that made radio THE world wide communication happened just a few miles away from Doc's studio. And, just a few miles north of that on 202 Green Street in San Francisco, Philo
Farnsworth displayed the first broadcast television. But, even before that you could almost walk from what became DeForrest's lab to what is now the Stanford golf range, where Eadweard Muybridge made the very first pictures that moved. Yes, motion pictures were invented at what became Stanford University. And just north of there in the 40's, about 20 minutes from where I am writing this, Ampex' six engineers invented the first reel to reel tape recorder, under the financing of a singer named Bing Crosby, who long sought something that would allow him to pre-record his radio shows of a high enough quality so he wouldn't have to travel to Los Angeles every week. "This show has been pre-recorded" was invented in the bay area. Every phonograph record you listened to in the next 50 plus years was recorded to that tape.
And, then..the personal computer. Nothing has changed the world more in the last 50
years than the "brain enhancer" machine those scientists gathered in Silicon Valley in the
60s and 70s to create. Silicon Vally is still the center of the world for all things internet and computing.. Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Twitter, HP, ..the list of tech related companies in the bay area is in the thousands.. Today 35% of the nation's startup investment money stays in the bay area.
Don't forget music..if the Beatles changed the world, the music of the 60's music revolution in the bay area changed the Beatles...after the Doors and others introduced the new music on Mount Tam and artists like Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin astounded the music world down in Monterey, the Beatles went from I Want to Hold Your Hand to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
And visual art? The bay areas five bridges were all revolutionary in what they accomplished as well as presenting themselves as great works of art..what bridge is more photographed than the Golden Gate? When you stand in front of the Palace of Fine Arts, or wonder why Coit Tower stands on Telegraph Hill or gaze straight up at the Transamerica Pyramid it begins to open your eyes to the art of the city. That's when you start paying attention to the dozens of POPOS...privately owned public open spaces with incredible sculptures
blending into the landscape all over the bay area. Art for art's sake is everywhere. Where can you find such a magnificent art structure as the Legion of Honor right in the middle of a golf course?!!!!
Okay..that's my case for the bay area being the most creative place on earth. But, it still doesn't answer the question...why here? Yes, the weather is great. The air is without the humidity that plagues much of the rest of the country. And, the beauty of the bay is an inspiration in itself. But, while it is among the most beautiful settings there are other gorgeous places around the globe.
The question of why this is the most creative place in the world haunted me as we continued our production in the DVD.
It was only when I began to study the people of the 1849 gold rush that the answer to "why here" became clear. First, a lot of narrow accounts of those people were published, presented them as a bunch of old miners whose goal in life was to get drunk and visit the brothels. While, there was that, here's the real picture of the gold miners. They were young...average age of the miners was 28. They were fairly affluent when they got here. Passage from the east coast or from other countries such as Ireland, Germany and Chile was expensive. And, perhaps most important, they were educated. The literacy rate in San Francisco in 1852 was the highest in the country.
But, it was the spirit they brought to the bay area that was most important. They came to the bay area to get a better life..not only for themselves but, for their families which they had left behind, sometimes thousands of miles away. They had great courage. Can you imagine about complaining today about a few hours flight from New York to San Francisco when it took six months overland in 1849. And, while you could get to the bay area by boat it meant sailing to Panama and then getting in canoes to get across that country to awaiting steamers on the other side that would take them to San Francisco. (There was no Panama Canal in those days). Many didn't make it..if the disease didn't kill them, the bandits did.
Most of all, the founders of the bay area had great faith. They wanted a better life and they believed they could get it. They had a vision and they believed it could be manifested. Don't listen to the writers who tell you the gold rush was a bust...billions of dollars were made. And, yes, there were those who failed at the task, but, even more, like Levi Strauss, Henry Wells, William Fargo and many others who saw their gold mine in the miners themselves. You would have probably made as much by being in the shovel business as spending back breaking hours panning. And, the 1849 gold rush impacted the entire world...it was a tremendous example of the creative spirit for all to see and
Just think of this. The population in San Francisco in 1848 was 848 people. Within a year it exploded to over 100,000 and within 3 years it was over 300,000. Everything was scarce and hence very expensive. One example often used is that one egg cost over $25 in the equivalent of today's money. Opportunity to create had never been so great and success was usually immediate.
Also important to note was the diversity of the population. The city plunged large numbers of Irish, German, Chileans, Chinese and other nationalities into one culture. The only way that culture was to flourish was to allow each person to be themselves. Eye witness description of San Francisco in 1850 talks about walking down a street and smelling the incredible diversity of foods being cooked outside. That lack of judgement of each other is still a foundation of the city today....and, so is its freedom to think creatively
"New ideas" that "change the world" is still the #1 product of the bay area. And, it is from those first goldminers, those first 300,000 people who settled in the bay in 1852 that the "children of the gold rush" today take their cue. Why is the bay area the most creative place on earth? Because it was founded in the first place to be just that....by people who came with a desire for a better life, with a vision of what it could be, the unfettered faith that it would happen and the courage to carry it out. That is everywhere you go in the bay. The bay is not just a place it's a feeling.
As one veteran baseball player said to a new member of the Giants World Series Champion baseball team last year... "Welcome to the land of the believers." You can buy the RVing the Bay Area Double DVD set on line by clicking here...