“So long as you are praised
think only that you are not yet on your own path
but on that of another.”
– Assorted Opinions and Maxims, 1879
Nestled between the Civic Center to the south, the prestigious Nob Hill to the north, and sitting west of Market Street, you will find the very well-located and derelict community called the Tenderloin. After the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, this area was rebuilt with tourist hotels, theaters, churches, and apartments. Since World War II, the area has declined and is now notorious for drug deals, crime, and prostitution. In recent years, it has begun the “gentrification” process and slowly the neighborhood is being rehabilitated. The area called the Tender Nob is a perfect example of this. As the buildings get redone and more and more respectable businesses begin to populate the area, the city loses one of its very few areas where someone of moderate to low-income can find affordable rent.
There are two reasons why it is called the Tenderloin. First, it is referred to as the underbelly of the city. Second, in previous times cops were paid quite a bit more money to walk the streets of this area, and they were then able to buy the best cuts, or most tender cuts, of meat. Some say that the cops were also given deals on these cuts of meat by the merchants in the area because they wanted police protection.
According to Wikipedia, the Tenderloin is also famous for the following:
* Rae Bourbon, female impersonator, was arrested in 1933. At the time, he was broadcasting live from Tait’s Cafe at 44 Ellis Street his show entitled, “Boys will be Girls.”
* In August 1966 at Compton’s Cafeteria (Turk & Taylor Streets), one of the first gay riots occurred. Police were in the process of arresting a drag queen, and it erupted into civil disobedience. This riot pre-dated the famous Stonewall Riot in New York City.
* The movie and book, The Maltese Falcon, are based on San Francisco’s Tenderloin.
Most guide books will not tell you about this area of the city, even though it is almost a stones throw from so many tourist places in the city. They do this area an injustice. Some of the safer areas of this region have fantastic restaurants, coffee shops, and theaters. Cafe Royale, Brenda’s French & Soul Food,
Exit Theatre, Golden Gate Theatre, Dottie’s Cafe, and Hooker’s Sweet Treats are just a few of the locally owned, successful businesses that make the trek into this area well worth it.
For more information on the Tenderloin, check out the blog called “The Tender,” at http://thetender.us/
This area of the city is nestled near Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf, and has a long history as the Italian section of San Francisco. By the 1930’s, one tenth of the city’s population was Italian. It was home to Italian notables like the great chocolatier, Domingo Ghirardelli; and that baseball sensation, Joe Di Maggio. In fact, Joe renewed his wedding vows to the beautiful Marilyn Monroe on the steps located in front of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. This is the one of the few churches, if the only church in America, with the street number 666. No kidding.
North Beach was settled in the late 1800’s and received its name because it was the Northern waterfront. Because of landfill and new construction, this characteristic of the area changed drastically over the past 100 years. San Francisco is always trying to find new ways to add livable space to this tip of the peninsula community.
The area thrived after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. In fact, three and four-story Edwardian homes appeared magically all over the area in order to offer cheap housing near the bay. Many of these structures are still around today, and they definitely add to the charming appeal of the neighborhood.
Eventually it became home to the Beatnik culture, and places like Vesuvio, Specs, and other businesses which encouraged radical self-expression popped up all over the area. This is also the place where you will find City Lights Bookstore which boasts one of the largest collections of Beat literature and history.
Finally, the area also was, and is, a center for nightlife. Walking down the streets at twilight you can smell the Italian food from the restaurants, hear the music of live bands seeping out into the streets, and you can even check out a peep-show. Starting in 1964, people rushed to North Beach and caused traffic jams in order to see the topless dancer, Carol Doda, perform at the Condor Club. Shocking!
North Beach is a magical place, and best experienced in the early evening on into the night.
Source: San Francisco: A Cultural History, Mick Sinclair (This is an awesome book, and I highly recommend it.)