TenderBits: Who’s the Tenderloin, developing is inevitable, finding drugs on night patrols & more

  • If San Francisco is like “a wiry guy in his late thirties who may or may not have had a drug problem”, who would the Tenderloin be? [Lapham’s Quarterly]
  • Sadly, no more ballroom dancing on Ellis street [Curbed SF]
  • District 6 “is not faced with the question of whether to develop, but instead in what way.” [SF Examiner]
  • A love of omelets brings an actress and a car dealer together to open a Comedy Club, at the mezzanine of the AMC Van Ness building [SFist]
  • One of the my favorite buildings in the neighborhood, the Rossmoor, used to be called Macbeth [Up from the deep]
  • Some great things still only cost $1! [Loin Life]
  • For those of you still hitting up the McDonald’s on Van Ness at Golden Gate every once in a while, this is so terrifying you wish it was a rat problem [Eater]
  • The SF Guardian Angels take the Bart for a night patrol in the TL, clean up some crack pipes & dirty needles and find 1/4 oz of cocaine. Bonus? [SF Guardian Angels blog]

Photo from the SF Guardian Angels blog

When the bunny hug was banned in the Loin

So I was researching some San Francisco history when I saw this bit from the Chronicle’s archives on Oct. 4, 1910:

Last night marked the closing of the dancing in the Tenderloin, and up to 1 o’clock, the habitues of the various places made the best of their opportunities in tripping the light fantastic in the smoke-laden atmosphere of their favorite places of amusement. The order has gone forth that with the beginning of the administration of Chief Seymour the “bunny hug” and the “hug-me-tight” would live in memory only. Another rule going into effect today is that no female habitues of the Tenderloin will be allowed to puff their usual cigarettes in public.

For reference, the bunny hug is a dance that’s said to have originated in the dance halls of San Francisco. Allegedly, it was an interpretation of bunnies humping. Fun! There was even a bunny hug cocktail which would be enough to make anyone want to get it on: “whiskey, gin, and pastis, stirring over ice (or shaking) and straining into a cocktail glass.”

I love the last bit in the Chron article about women not being allowed to smoke in the Loin. One wonders what exactly the Loin was like just 4 years after the 1906 quake. I looked through a 1906 San Francisco phonebook and didn’t see any addresses in the Tenderloin. Probably because it looked like this:

View north from Ellis Street in 1906 with Fairmont Hotel in distance, SF Public Library Historical Photograph Collection

Comparing the addresses in the pre-quake, 1903 phone book to the current plan, it looks like a lot of consolidation went on after the quake. There are about 5 buildings on my side of the street, but back in 1903 there were about twice that. But even though pre-quake Tenderloin is hard to imagine, seems the area still had flavor, though a slightly posher one. On my current block in 1903 you could find a rooming house, the Princeton Hotel, Waldeck Sanatorium, and private homes. My neighbors would have included John Boyce, grocer; W.M. Copeland; W.R. Hanna; Mrs. E. Krupp; Dr. William P. Sprague. And up the hill, at California? A certain Mr. W.H. Crocker. Sound familiar? Yeah, he’s that Crocker, for which the glory of the Crocker Galleria is named. And damn, he was swank. Check out his amazing crib, below. Fabulous, but if he lived anywhere in a 10 block radius of me, I probably wouldn’t be able to afford the rent. Maybe I could stay at the Sanatorium.

Crocker Residence ca 1889, Britton & Rey, artotype, SF Public Library Historical Photograph Collection

First Look at 620 Jones

Rendering of 620 Jones from above

Friday evening the semi-finished restaurant and lounge at 620 Jones named, wait for it, 620 Jones had a little open house for locals, especially neighbors, so I went to take a look. Adjacent to the Gaylord Hotel, the 620 space will consist of two bars, indoor and outdoor, with seating in both areas. My main concern last time I looked at the 620 plans (pictured above) were that it would be freakin’ cold. Luckily for my ass, the day of the preview was a balmy 80 degrees. Though I was relieved when co-manager Jordan told me heat-lamps strung across the outdoor area would solve this problem as the weather got colder.

Altogether, 620 Jones has been under construction for 9 months and is scheduled to have its grand opening around October 8. And although the space is still very unfinished (indoor restaurant and bar area is still under heavy construction, as you can see in the picture below) at first glance it looks promising. If you want to get a general idea, I recommend taking a look at this virtual tour. For now there are square, concrete planters in the outdoor area which will later have seating affixed to them. The developers have used drought-tolerant grasses and shrubs for decoration, and there are even a few wilted trees valiantly fighting to survive in the shadow of the Gaylord. But while I liked the plants, I’m not a big fan of all the rough, “urban” style concrete the developers used. The entire wall behind the outdoor bar is plain, old grey concrete and will stay that way.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the crowd I saw at the preview–FiDi clones complete with dress slacks, slicked-back hair, and shiny shoes– not exactly my kind of crowd. I really have no idea who would actually go to 620 on a regular basis. Could be a nice spot if the crowd was fun, but that’s hard to predict. I did like how the terrace looked out onto Geary rather than Jones, and one of the developers told me that the project was using solar panels for power, had its own compost pile (though, isn’t that required in SF now?), and was participating in some other green initiatives.

Basically the space still has so much to accomplish before it opens October 8 that it’s hard to say how swank it’ll be, what the menu will look like, or what the 620 Jones lounge experience will actually be. I’ll be there October 8, and I’m expecting anything. In the meantime, you can keep an eye on the 620 Jones developments via their twitter or Facebook, of course.

Update 9/28

Although 620 Jones is set to open on October 8 and the works look far from being finished, we discover today via SF Station that on Saturday they’ll already be hosting a party. More specifically, a Silent Frisco dance party in their outdoor garden, which they call a tribute to the LoveEvolution party that was supposed to happen on that date.

Looking from finished restaurant onto terrace

625 Taylor: For all your landlord dreams!

Every time the first of the month rolls around and rent is due, are you thinking, “Dude this place sucks. If I owned a building, I’d totally run it like, with awesome-ocity”? Well, now is your chance as 625 Taylor Street is on the market. This forest green gem of Tendernobbery is just a mere $3,200,000. What a deal! Actually, when you figure that it has 21 units and that makes them $152,000 apiece, it is kinda a good deal, although this is purely for someone looking to rent out the place obviously. And who could resist when the listing has shots like this? Moving boxes in a junior bedroom are soooo hot! Rar!

Liking Brenda’s newness

I was walking by Brenda’s today and checking on their expansion which looks to be moving along with some degree of progress.

For those who didn’t know, Brenda’s has taken over their entire building on Polk Street, including the laundromat space that used to be next door. The shot above is the new top of the building and is a nice touch. That and the sign taking up the entire front. We can only hope that soon our beloved breakfast spot shall be bigger, badder, and even more beignet-ful.

A piece of Meacham is on the market

In case you haven’t walked up Post between Hyde & Larkin, there’s a big fat sign out front announcing the sale of 3 Meacham Place. Now, I love Meacham because in addition to being a cool little alley next to this this building, “meach” sounds like “peach” and “ham” sounds like “ham” meaning that it sounds like Peach Ham street, especially once I’ve been drinking and I like the sound that.

But I was curious at what #3 was in this alley and most importantly, how much this little gem costs. Well, as to the cost, that’s $1.4 million. As to what this space was, that was Voicebox Creative who I’m rather bummed to see are moving out of the neighborhood. Given that this isn’t really the best time to be selling real estate, I’m assuming that they were moving due to a slump in work, which is unfortunate as it was nice to have a design firm in the neighborhood while they were around. But, take a look at the real estate link above and see the photos. This is a mighty cool building, which will most likely not get any new kind of design firm at it, but just end up being a TIC or something.

This building really sums up what I call the Tendlet: all business downstairs and living upstairs. We have a good number of these mixed use, Tendlet buildings in the neighborhood and I’m quite happy when they stay that way because really, who wants an apartment on eye level with the sidewalk and who wants a business where people from the sidewalk can’t see it?

Anyone know about 907 Post?

Or maybe, it’s 901 or 905 Post Street [update: it appears to be 907]. I don’t really know. All I do know is that I’ve walked by this place a great many times and always wanted to see something done with it as it’s a nice, early 20th century building. According to SF city records, it’s owned by some property group in San Diego who do little more than paint over the graffiti once the city cites them on it. It also seems to have been a privately owned laundry a long, long time ago with the couple who owned it also living there. Whatever the case, I am curious and if anyone has any information, I’d love to hear it.

Some Planning for the Hallidie Hole

Some might argue with me that Hallidie Plaza (that hole in the ground outside the Powell Station) isn’t part of the Loin. I say that it very much is and that if you go to the right, where the escalators are, it’s the gateway to Union Square. You go to the left where the stairs are (and me walking up the stairs not making eye contact with the Street Sheeters), it’s the gateway to the Loin. In fact, it’s the perfect manifestation as to how San Francisco regards these two districts. Properly Done vs. Good Enough. No one really has been able to deal with the fact that this plaza is a complete disaster. If you haven’t read it, this article by John King from nearly four years ago is an excellent breakdown of what exactly is wrong with the Hallidie Hole and how it can be fixed:

When Hallidie Plaza opened in 1973, named in honor of cable car inventor Andrew Hallidie, the idea was to create a sunken plaza that could be a gathering place, a multilevel celebration of urbanity shielded from traffic and throngs.
Oops! We’ve learned since then that urbanity includes traffic and throngs. The commotion is part of the scene. By telescoping the plaza downward, its users were pulled out of sight and out of the action.

King went on to say that the other part of the plaza, which just seems like an afterthought anyways, should be done away with. I couldn’t agree more. And in fact, moving the visitor’s center up to the top is probably the best thing that could be done as any visitor that comes to visit me has no idea that it’s there, given that it’s on the leftward, Loiny side of the plaza.

Of course I can’t really see this happening with our current political mess. We’d end up with Chris Daly pushing for affordable housing to line the exit of Powell (which would look something like the prison cell scene in 12 Monkeys.) Then we’d end up with Newsom erecting a statue of himself over the entrance, standing with his legs apart so that we’d have to stare at his junk every time we would use the station. Whomever voted for Daly should have to live in his pet projects. Whomever voted for Newsom should have to spend time in a locked room with him.

But, my god, here’s one “small” idea that could actually work: a resevoir. Basically, as King was saying, give up on that extension bit. This has so many pluses to it, that I assume it won’t work in San Francisco due to it being firmly grounded in sensibility. First, it doesn’t have to be gorgeous or have artwork saluting some indigenous peoples. Second, it creates almighty surface area for development. Third, there’s the reservoir which it turns out will save the city money. I had no idea that the sound of rushing water I heard in Powell was actually the sound 44 million gallons of water a year being wasted! All this water is pumped out of the station to stop it from flooding when it could be used to fill up the various street cleaning trucks and other city vehicles that need water as well as washing away Newsom’s hubris on a daily, or as-needed basis.

While I’m pissed that this idea hasn’t come about before in a city that claims to be so green, I’m happy that at least now it’s being thought about and, aside from public officials not getting in to a hair pulling fight, it could actually happen.

Not funny at all City Hall

Photo by TenderBlog

Yeah, I get it, we’re “in the red”. Is that supposed to be funny? They can start paying my rent and let me complete my enrollment in Healthy San Francisco if that’s the case.

And while I realize it’s a border of the Loin and not actually in the Loin, what the hell was up with southbound traffic on Van Ness tonight? Looked like hell for anyone who was in a car, which thankfully, I wasn’t, as walking is something that soothes my soul–especially when contrasted against the fact I’m walking faster than the cars next to me are moving. To quote Nelson, “Ha, ha.”

(Pardon the sheer and utter crapitude of that photo. I didn’t have my real camera with me at the moment and had capture that with the delicate touch of my Blackberry.)

Won’t someone please think of the trees?!!

Photo by Tenderblog

When you think of nice sections of San Francisco, the one thing that they usually have in common is an abundance of trees lining the street. Whether it’s Upper Hyde, Upper Fillmore, Pacific Heights, etc., it’s a no-brainer. Have some trees and people like. Tear out all the trees and people don’t like. Such is the case with the vast majority of the Tenderloin. There are no trees which in addition to removing nature’s air purifiers, it makes all the streets look like crap. Every piece of trash stands out more and the street’s ass is exposed. I don’t care who you are, but an exposed ass in never a good thing.

Naturally, whenever I see a sign that they want to rip out trees in a specific place, I am annoyed. Sure, people are allowed their due course as an owner, but those sidewalks in front of their buildings are not theirs. They are ours and it’s more than a little frustrating that simply the threat of possible legal action by some ambulance chasing lawyer some day in the future due to some unknown future person walking by who might hit their head on a branch that doesn’t exist yet, will make people want to tear out the trees in front of their buildings.

It seems I am not alone in this and some concerned citizen put up notices that a couple of trees on Polk street between Bush and Pine (the ones pictured above) are set to be cut down. Here is the notice on the Polk Street trees:

Photo by Tenderblog

There was a bit of information in these notices, but since seeing the one that I did on Post Street and going back the next day to take a picture, they have since all been removed. If anyone has any information on this campaign, please leave it in the comments section. I’ve seen far, far too many trees removed in the Loin to sit by idly and let more get taken out just in the name of whatever lame excuse people have to remove them. Oh yeah, bug David Chiu. It’s about time he did a bit more on the ground for his district in this area.