Monday, February 16, 2009
Having lived in San Francisco for 5 years now, I can say that I know the small city of 7 miles by 7 miles very well. I've walked the streets of every districts that divides the populations dramatically, both culturally and esthetically. I thought I had discovered just about everything needed to be discovered until i decided to move to a little area called Hayes Valley.
This was the neighborhood I chose not because it's convenient, but because I feel that most people don't know what lies beneath it. In my journey to understand the pros and cons, the challenges and benefits and the things that truly make up this place, I'm feeling a bit ambiguous as to how to describe it. Although its tiny, and hidden between some of the more popular districts, Hayes Valley is a world of its own. It is, indeed, a rising neighborhood, due to the the destruction of the freeway and the construction of Octavia Boulevard. Since then, which happened in 1989, the neighborhood bloomed and continues to do so. On the weekends, and when the sun is out, my whole day can be spent strolling Hayes Street, which is jam packed with boushy boutiques and high-end restaurants.
I went into a local coffee shop yesterday called Momi Toby's located on Laguna street between Hayes street and Fell street. I was surprised by the lack of diversity. Almost everyone seemed to be white upper class professionals. This was a new view from what I've been used to having lived in other areas such as the Mission District and the Sunset District. Surprisingly, the area is surrounded by projects, but it seems to be more divided compared to other neighborhoods. A couple weeks ago, I noticed a group of three young adults carrying a video camera, a notebook and a pen. They had a simple question to ask people in the streets: "Do you feel safe in this neighborhood?". In my on-line research discoveries, I've learned that they're have been around 11 shootings in the past 2 years.
The area is very divided, I think the best way to see this would be to get an aerial prospective of the neighborhood. one minute I'm walking in front of large cemented colorless complex buildings which are the projects and the next minute, I'm surrounded by stylish boutiques and groups of young white Americans carrying yoga mats and wearing "North Face" jackets. I have seen some of the richest and poorest people in San Francisco all within one block, but rarely ever are they mixed.