Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Re-Emerging City

The north end of Kearney Street is re-emerging slowly after years of empty lots and divisive proposals and protests surrounding evictions & demolition of the old International Hotel. In the 1980s, the site of the I-Hotel at Pacific Street, an SRO with elderly and established residents, was slated for redevelopment and ignited furious resistance to the loss of low-income housing. The district had once been a Chilean enclave in the Barbary Coast era, then Manilatown, as Phillipino residents clustered on the block. It eventually was demolished and replaced by a multi-use tower, seen above, but the shock of the fight left the area fallow for years.
A new City College campus opens here next year and may help refresh district. As well-trodden the area is by tourists, it desperately needs more energy from San Franciscans beyond just Chinatown. The aging population there cannot provide the combustion that every great city needs to really light up a downtown corridor. Tourists will never be enough and are merely passing through and snapping the same shots.
I'll be interested to see the new mural behind the scaffolding that undoubtedly will address the diversity & divisions of the neighborhood. I hope, too, it will bring a fresh wave of people to what is The City's oldest neighborhood by demographics. I'll be sure to post a shot from this perspective once the buildings are completed.

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