(The Mission/Lawrenceville/Capitol Hill) isn't dead. It's changing.

This NY times editorial is maybe the first one in the last five years that includes musings about New York or San Francisco neighborhoods that I’m glad I’ve read.

In short: you think the city/neighborhood/whatever was best at some imaginary time in the past, probably when you were young and cool and an “insider”, whatever that means. (It probably includes a small circle of close friends and a rich circle of diverse secondary friends, and probably a connection to some kind of arts scene that’s too obscure to google.)

See also Midnight in Paris; see also everyone who travels who wants to see “the _real¬†_London/SF/Mumbai, not the tourist¬†stuff”, who probably just wants to feel like an insider there.

Look, I remember when Ritual Coffee in the Mission was a kinda dark place you could work on laptops. I remember when Capitol Hill had a Museum of the Mysteries and Bailey/Coy Books, and Coca Cafe in Lawrenceville was a new trendy thing. This all places me “back in the day”, and maybe “way past back in the day”, depending on who you are. Now they are not quite that anymore! Now on Valencia you can buy $5 coffee and $5000 furniture. That Capitol Hill apartment that had no doorbell so I rigged up a shoe connected to a string, it costs twice as much now.

But in the Mission you can still buy some good books, eat great Mexican food, see a tabla master in concert, join a secret society, discuss philosophy or play Magic cards over okay Turkish coffee, get a sweet haircut, see an underground arts fair or a street carnival, etc etc. It’s changing, sure, but A. change happens slowly, and B. it’s not always bad.

Maybe all our money now is going not to rich suburbs or rich fat cat neighborhoods (your Pac Heightses and Midtown Manhattans, right?) but rich yet active mid-city dense neighborhoods. That’s not without its problems - we have to figure out how to avoid pushing out lower-income people, and how the lower-income people who do get pushed out don’t end up in awful underfunded sprawled-out suburbs - but it’s a better vision than white flight, anyway. Eh, we’re trying.


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