Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, HuffPost SF went live.
We weren't exactly sure what to expect. But San Francisco has had a busy 365 days.
We elected a new mayor, who had actually already been our mayor for quite some time. We lost one major sports team, but we gained another. We welcomed an influx of tech companies eager to relocate within our borders. We watched our new sheriff quickly fall from grace. We really pissed off our friendly neighborhood nudists. We buckled under the weight of Obama's war on weed. We braced ourselves for the America's Cup. We protested. And protested. And protested some more.
It's been a thrill and a joy to watch the story of our zany, glorious city unfold for the past 12 months. It's been a challenge to then bring the most important pieces to life for our readers.
And it's a challenge we've embraced in the most HuffPost of ways. We live-streamed the mayoral debates. We used our scrappy, sneaky skills to peek inside Twitter's new headquarters. We made a local blogger's blood boil with our assessment of the Mirkarimi scandal. We got in a little trouble from headquarters for posting a full-frontal slideshow of a nudist demonstration (sorry, guys). We covered the medical marijuana crackdown from all angles. We let our readers weigh in on the America's Cup using the debate tools. And we live-blogged the Occupy movement from our smartphones until our thumbs had blisters.
None of our work would have been possible, however, without our muse: The amazing City by the Bay, the most magical metropolis the world has ever known.
A friend recently asked me if I'd ever consider moving back to New York. "I would," I said. "If I didn't love San Francisco more than I've ever loved another human."
("Well put," he replied. "Kinda f*cked up, but well put.")
Last July, on the eve of our launch, I penned a little ode to my great love, outlining a few of the reasons I find San Francisco so inspiring and enchanting.
I've been lucky enough to add some new reasons to that list over the past 12 months: Dancing aboard a refurbished 1970s schoolbus in the Panhandle. Finally making it all the way up Haight Street on my bike. Drinking hot toddies with my favorite local musician at Jack Kerouac's old haunt. My fourth consecutive Outside Lands festival. The view from Tank Hill at night.
But this website isn't about me. It's about our community of readers who help create the city's beautiful nuances. So to commemorate our first year of coverage, I asked my friends to tell me why they, too, believe San Francisco is the greatest place on earth.
Their stories are below. We hope you'll share yours with us as well. Cheers to a wacky, wonderful year in our wacky, wonderful world.
"I like to think that I could live anywhere. But of course that's assuming that everywhere has utopian environs, a commitment to social justice, the Castro and the best food in the universe." <em>- Robin Wilkey</em>
"Because people here don't just say, 'I live in the best place on the planet.' They actually do something about it. There's a spirit of possibility here, stretching from all the way from the gold-plated dome of City Hall to the dingy basement where a handful of dreamers are giving the next world-changing art movement or tech company a stupid name they'll later regret, that says, 'We can do anything we set our minds to (except electing a Republican to anything).' Do these things fail sometime? Of course. Do they succeed more often than that? Hopefully. If our big/dumb/silly/tragic human experiment is about one thing, it's about celebrating the possible. If we're not doing that, all we're doing is admitting to ourselves that existence is nothing more than running out the clock. And there is no place I've ever been where that spirit of possibility is more tangible than in San Francisco. Also, you can wear the same outfit (jeans, t-shirt, light jacket) every day of the year. Take that, seasons. We're too hip for you." <em>- Aaron Sankin</em>
"Because you can walk its span in one day, see water on both ends, and in between is everything you could ever ask for: Great music, great food, great people." <em>- Sarah Medina</em>
"The food!" <em>- Elysha Rom-Povolo</em>
"Because of its insatiable appetite for risk and its bottomless tolerance for failure." <em>- Andrew Sotzing</em>
"Because the blue-haired, glitter-faced, raver chick waiting in line with me at the bathroom is also the CEO of her own successful start-up. And she has a food blog." <em>- Cory Rae Shaw</em>
"Because every time I am on a plane that is descending into SFO my body starts to shake as I understand the massive beauty which surrounds us. Cause ten minutes after hopping on the highway from the Mission, I can be seen driving through a dense fog on a twisty cliff-side road at 5 o' clock on a Tuesday with a pal and feel like a lunatic for having plans to get in that water (to surf). Because we have our own unique definition for the seasons." <em>- Rick Swette</em>
"The number of days I can spend sitting in one of our beauitful parks reading and/or hanging with friends all the way from coffee time til beer time. Walking down Valencia Street and (after running into a friend or two) and being able to buy a cool tank top off of a hanger on a wire fence for $2. The urban-natural juxtaposition (Is there anywhere else on earth like it?)." <em>- Maggie Jack</em>
"The entrepreneurial spirit is everywhere, even in the consumption of spirits. San Francisco's bars close at 2am. So what do we do? Start our own bars! There's quite a speakeasy scene in SF, where you can dance or mingle in underground warehouses and private rooftops until long after last call." <em>- Josh Constine</em>
"When City Life gets you down in the grumps, you can escape within minutes to the most beautiful scenery in the world." <em>- Zach Dean</em>
"1) The air smells of sesame oil. 2) In New York your office makes you smoke cigarettes out on the rooftop. In SF, they make you do yoga. 3) Every weekend there is an opportunity to wear a costume. 4) You can go out on the town and get laid dressed in a Garfield t-shirt." <em>- Dan Abramson</em>
"Because of that moment when you're heading up a hill so steep it looks like the world will drop off on the other side and you crest over the top to face a beautiful view of the Bay... and realize there's 20 other streets like that in the city. Because there's a neighborhood for everybody, whether you're straight or gay, young or old, bro or hipster. Because there's literally hundreds of cities around the world that are trying to figure out how to foster the innovation that exists here, but nobody's figured out how to replicate a culture that evolved from a eclectic combination of the gold rush, the Grateful Dead, Stanford University and an enormous earthquake. Because I wasn't born here, but I can't imagine dying anywhere else." <em>- Will Hamlin</em>
"No place on earth makes it so easy to be me. That, and porchetta sandwiches from the Ferry Building." <em>- Anna Barrera</em>
"Even though it's a big city, it still feels like a small town. I love how often I run into friends around town." <em>- John Terenzio</em>
"Because even though I grew up here I feel like I'm discovering new things (new restaurants, crazy events, fun bars) every week. To provide an example, did you know there's a <a href="http://www.meetup.com/sfbulldogs/" target="_hplink">meetup of all the English bulldogs</a> in San Francisco every 3rd Saturday at the beach? I'd say we pack a lot of awesomeness into the 7X7." <em>- Frank Bauch</em>
"Dungeness Crab Season. The California way of life in an urban setting, and the friendliness of residents. The Giants. And the fact that its comforting at times to be wearing full winter gear in August. We get sun all year round. Who doesnt like the feel of a good sweatshirt?!" <em>- Kellan Hori</em>
"It's a place where you can try on different lives like pairs of shoes. A place where freedom of expression is not just a law; it is the way. Novelties like the amazing food, consistently temperate and often amazing weather, and thriving young cultural happenings are just the icing. What makes this city grand is how it works through you sometimes slowly, sometimes at the speed of the Internet, to shape your core experience that is your life. While here, you truly are 'going to San Francisco.'" <em>- Pablo Veracruz</em>
"Because it can be grey, foggy, cold and windy for days, testing you to see if you're worthy. You're ready to pack up and head for warmer pastures and then something happens. Whether you're driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and the sun is shining just right on this stunning city, or you get a few hours of heat and sun (and you can pull off the leggings and the cardigan), or you are biking through heavy traffic down Market and a 3-piece band on the sidewalk serenades you for a block - something happens that makes you melt and you fall back in love all over again." <em>- Rebecca Pariser</em>
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/SFgrlproblem"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/3560185.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/SFgrlproblem">SFgrlproblem</a>:<br />San Francisco comes with its share of problems for us single SF girls, but there’s nowhere else we’d rather live. Why? Because spending your life savings on alcohol, rent and costumes is much more fun than paying down a mortgage on a cookie-cutter house in the suburbs. And no matter the day of week – or neighborhood – you can always go and find a good crowd, good food, and good times. And even if that elusive Peter Pan is hard to nail down, true love is only one match.com date away. And until you find it, there’s a happy hour and a theme party awaiting. Photo: Sometimes a Synonym by SMcGarnigle via Flickr
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mariapeeples"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/1422103.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mariapeeples">mariapeeples</a>:<br />Every holiday celebrated in churches in other parts of the country becomes an excuse for a giant party in San Francisco. For example, the Annual Hunky Jesus Contest.
Follow Carly Schwartz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/carlicita