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/