Luis Herrera

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February 6, 2017

How I See San Francisco: Librarian Luis Herrera

Luis Herrera is the City Librarian of the San Francisco Public Library, where he is responsible for the administration of the city’s libraries, including the Main Library at Civic Center and 27 neighborhood branches. In January 2012, Herrera was named the Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year.  Here's how he sees San Francisco, his home.

Describe Your Perfect Day in San Francisco.
My perfect day in the city is taking an afternoon off to enjoy a Giants game at AT&T Park. Getting there is half the fun! You can enjoy lunch and a beer at the Ferry Building and walk from there, or if you want to spring for pedicab, that’s fun, too.

What should every visitor to San Francisco do at least once?
San Francisco City Hall, often called “The People’s Palace,” is a majestic Beaux-Arts building rich in history and grandeur. Not many cities can boast a city hall dome that is taller than the United States Capitol and includes a spectacular rotunda and grand staircase. This extraordinary building has been the site of historic milestones in the city's and nation’s narrative.

What’s your favorite place to take a photo or read a book?
One of the best-kept secrets in the city is Fort Point National Historic Site which is located at the southern tip of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was constructed as a pre-Civil War era fortress era and is perhaps best known as the site where Jimmy Stewart dives into the Bay waters to save Kim Novak in the Alfred Hitchcock’s classic "Vertigo." There is an idyllic green space near the bluff that is a perfect place to read a book and take amazing photos of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Where do you indulge your artistic side in San Francisco?
I’m lucky to work at the Main Library where we host exhibits in two gallery spaces, the Skylight Gallery on the sixth Floor and the Jewett Gallery on the Lower Level. Additionally, the library produces wonderful exhibits throughout each of the floors, which provide different experiences every day. And the San Francisco History Center on the sixth Floor of the Main Library also has an extensive book arts collection. An added bonus is the outstanding Asian Art Museum located across from the Main Library in Civic Center Plaza that is home to renowned collections on Asian arts and cultures.

What’s your favorite event that happens in San Francisco?
I love the Chinese New Year Parade that takes place each February, capping off a two-week festival and a variety of activities ushering in the New Year. The parade dates back to the 1860s. It is one of San Francisco’s signature events and attracts thousands of visitors.

Where and what would you choose for your last meal in San Francisco?
I love taking a leisurely afternoon and dining at the Ramp. It’s a gathering place for locals right on the waterfront in Mission Bay that was originally a bait shop in the 1950s. You can enjoy patio dining with great views of the East Bay. Fish and chips would be my choice but the varied menu gives you lots of options ranging from calamari to oysters to guacamole. And to top it off, the Ramp hosts live Salsa and Brazilian music and dancing on select days. 

Which restaurant is still on your list to dine at in San Francisco?
I still haven’t been to the Slanted Door in the Ferry Building and that’s on my must-do list.

Who do you follow to keep up with San Francisco news?
Lately, I’m enjoying reading David Talbot’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle to give a candid perspective on the city’s politics. I also read the City Insider column to keep up with city hall activities.    

Any last final advice for travelers in San Francisco?
San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods each with a distinctive character and cluster of merchants and residences. I would recommend taking Muni and meandering to an outlying neighborhood and just enjoying the local flavor.

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