This architectural detail on a classic Barbary Coast building, The Hippodrome, recalls the bawdy days of Jackson Square -- The Gold Rush through the 1920s, now a distant and hazy memory. The streets along Washington, Jackson and Pacific used to be electric with crowds and something in the air that smelled like a good time coming. Today, the building stands vacant in a quiet downtown neighborhood dominated by low-key design and law firms, vintage art houses, rug galleries and some of San Francisco's oldest, most overlooked structures.
Money and its proximity to The Financial District has hushed the street life here over time. With so many vacancies, though, an opportunity presents itself. The district could do with more cabarets, denizens and cafes. North Beach and Chinatown might reunite once again with The Embarcadero as intended. The buxom ladies of The Barbary Coast are biding their time to dance with us once again.