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> Tuesday, March 07, 2006: SOMA Banality

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It's been a while since I introduced a new San Francisco neighborhood, so... (drumroll please) introducing... South of Market - a large district located South of Market street, hence the name and hence its commonly used abbreviation: SOMA. I'm not going to hold the suspense any longer (and maybe the title of this post gave it away already anyway), but SOMA is by far my least favorite area in the city. In my opinion, it is a patchwork of architectural desolation. It's very industrial, souless, and a nightmare to drive through (one way streets, potholes that could swallow a mini cooper and the streets take a 45 degree turn as you get in the area from the north which is pretty disorienting - see map below). The area has a few pockets of interest though. When you get close to the financial district, you'll find hotels, some pretty nice stores and museums (for example, the Museum of Modern Art is there). The area also hosts over a hundred nightclubs, and about as many furniture stores, which is convenient. Even more interesting is probably the area around Folsom street and 11th street which is known as the heart of the leather and S&M scene. The city has been redeveloping this area for decades and in different ways (or with some change of plans - however you want to look at it). These days, it's working hard at making it a true neighborhood that people will enjoy living in: grocery stores, restaurants, new apartments, etc... This photo today illustrates my feelings pretty well: an attempt at making something souless more interesting. As San Francisco rock icon Janis Joplin would say: "try just a little bit harder" please.

> view this location on a map


Interesting piece. Perhaps it's not the subject that's important but how you see it.

Good sentiment
(submitted on March 07, 2006)

"patchwork of architectural desolation" -- what a great line. Thanks for torturing yourself to give us a view. (submitted on March 07, 2006)  

In this particular case, I think I like the commentary even better than the picture ! ;-) Nice piece of writing, Manu, good job!

By the way, "South of Market" used to be a great area to find cheap computer parts and repairs years ago. I only know of one such place, now, near the Metreon, that's still worth the trip.
(submitted on March 07, 2006)

Ca me rapelle un peu ces monuments à la gloire du réalisme Soviétique. Le cauchemard architectural. Le noir et blanc achève le tableau. La bonne photo n'est pas forcément la belle photo, non? (submitted on March 08, 2006)  

PS> I didn't mean to say that the picture wasn't good, by the way. All I meant to say is that I thought you outdid yourself with the commentary. Je suis aussi tout à fait d'accord avec LOLO. (submitted on March 08, 2006)  

Nice photo. My husband worked as a finish carpenter in the high-end commercail millwork industry, many shops of which used to be located in the SOMA. We learned of little allys and artist's digs, watched the gay bath house/bar scene move in and out as AIDS hit the city in the early 80s, met old folks who had grown up in this neighborhood (which was a main bedroom neighborhood until the 1906 quake)--what was interesting about every older adult we met that had grown up South of Market was that they all had a distinctive accent that sounded like they were from NYC instead of California! Light industry is the mainstay of the district, and it is a hodgepodge, but has it's own charm if you get to know the people behind all those shop fronts. MOMA is an excellent museum--a carpenter friend of ours installed the wood pannels and doors of the interiors and they are beautiful if you take the time to look at them. SOMA is full of real, working class people. . .you might like the place more if you knew a few of them. Reminds me of the area in Paris out toward the big flea market in the north. . .it's port/industry related historically. (submitted on March 09, 2006)  

lolo: quelle analyse, tu fais de la photo? ;-)

tomate: comments are for negative feedback too, I can take it. ;-)

kim: thanks for this story, I enjoyed reading it! It isn't the people I have a problem with at all.

(submitted on March 09, 2006)

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