Commuting via Muni or BART for us means walking down from Nob Hill to the Powell Street BART Station. Descending to the station, one passes through a dense neighborhood of retail with apartments above, and interspersed amongst these buildings are a collection of noble brick buildings that are almost civic in their character; modern-day urban palazzi. They differ from their neighborhood brethren in their absence of retail at the street, or apartments and lodging above. These buildings look as though they might be libraries, banquet halls, or even theaters. Well, to varying degrees , they are all of these, they are, in fact, private clubs. My dear reader, we bring you Clubland.
The private club is largely of English origin, initially for men only, and many were centered in the St. James area of London. These “gentlemen’s” clubs served as a place of social(and no doubt business) interaction for the like-minded elite of London. In a certain era, one could see these clubbers dashing about with walking stick and bowler hat . (Urban Ambles spotted a couple, as though in search of a rare yellow-breasted Scottish warbler, on a recent trip to London). Over time, the tradition spread to the United States, and in our aforementioned district, there are a number. Set amongst the otherwise retail bustle and eclectic mix of tourists, local denizens, hip art students, and, well, just plain crazy, they are understandably discreet.