Asked why she chose 24th Street, Alley Cat Books owner Kate Rosenberger shrugs, "Someone was going to do it."

Rosenberger, who sports a gray shag haircut with multicolored highlights, has an unwitting habit of landing early in gentrifying neighborhoods. She opened Phoenix Books on the Noe Valley stretch of 24th Street in 1985, and Dog Eared Books on Valencia in 1992. She hopes 24th Street will be spared the upscale homogenization of those strips.

"There's so much going on down here," she says of the street beyond Alley Cat's hardwood floors.

Gourmet sandwich shop Pig & Pie preserves the signage of a previous generation.
Anna Latino
Gourmet sandwich shop Pig & Pie preserves the signage of a previous generation.
Kate Rosenberger has opened bookstores in Noe Valley and on Valencia Street, and hopes 24th Street is spared homogenization.
Anna Latino
Kate Rosenberger has opened bookstores in Noe Valley and on Valencia Street, and hopes 24th Street is spared homogenization.

The incoming tide of affluent young white people into the Mission resonates change all the way out to its farthest corner. Even after the dot-com bubble burst, they have continued to come to the Mission. Economic forces drive the trend, of course, but individually, newcomers are lured by their compatriots and the neighborhood's reputation for being an exciting, diverse place to live. It's the same song being played on street corners in Los Angeles' Echo Park, Austin's east side, and pretty much all of Brooklyn.

Common to that song is that the neighborhood's Latino population is waning, however. Latinos, who once accounted for nearly half of the Mission's population, now make up just over a third, according to the most recent census data. For whites, the numbers are reversed. White Mission dwellers are also much better off than their Hispanic neighbors: The median income of a white household, $102,245, is more than twice that of a Hispanic household.

Rents have continued to edge upward. In the spring of 2012, as the tech industry and others picked up their hiring, rents in the trendier northwest corner of the Mission spiked upward, says Deborah Brown, a leasing agent with J. Wavro Associates.

Higher residential rents push nearby commercial rents higher, experts say. And for businesses that serve working-class Latinos, they also erode their customer base; regulars move away and only return sporadically, shopping as much for nostalgia as for products.

La Victoria's Latino customers increasingly come on weekends to stock up for the week, Maldonado says.

"They used to live down the street, around the corner; they no longer do. Those are the ones that used to buy here every day. So now it's a challenge to fill your everyday consumer dollar. If they all move to Watsonville because their home got repossessed, that makes a huge difference," he says.

Many merchants can no longer afford to live in the Mission. Maldonado packed up for Ingleside in 2007. The family that runs Ayuntla, the pop-up restaurant that opened inside Casa Sanchez, was forced out of its previous location by condo development; the older generation lives on 22nd Street, but the younger generation has settled in Daly City. Nazzal, who's Middle Eastern, lives in South San Francisco.

Unlike the Mission's white residents in the 1950s, who later moved to the suburbs, most Latinos aren't leaving the neighborhood by choice. They leave behind the Mission's strong cultural fabric to secure lower rents, sometimes in troubled East Bay neighborhoods like West Oakland.

"The reality is the Mission has not always been a Latino community. It was German; it was Irish; it was Polish. But the people who left went to better places, and now the Latinos who are leaving are going to worse places — places where they don't have the resources and they have more crime," says Eva Martinez, a San Francisco native and former executive director of Acción Latina, a cultural nonprofit with offices on 24th Street.


Taking an even longer view, it becomes clear that the Mission, far from being shaped by sudden cultural popularity, has been in a huge, constant, often bloody state of flux that complicates easy notions of gentrification. Almost since the Spanish mission that gave the neighborhood its name was founded in 1776, the Mission District has been a canvas colored by the city's shifting economic tides.

The Mission sits on a valley floor surrounded by Twin Peaks to the west, Potrero Hill to the east, Bernal Hill to the south, and to the north sand dunes were leveled to create the South of Market neighborhood.

The Spanish mission shattered the Ohlone Indian settlements that had occupied the valley. When the missions were abandoned just a few decades later, some affluent Hispanics stayed behind. But before long they were muscled out by merchant-class white settlers who followed the 1849 Gold Rush.

The developing American city's earliest streetcar routes connected the Mission to SOMA, which has historically worked as a kind of staging ground for downtown. SOMA was divided between industrial and port-related industries, and working-class housing for new immigrants. As each subsequent wave became more established, workers would flow out to live in the Mission.

The neighborhood developed east from the site of the Mission Dolores and south from SOMA, unfolding gradually toward what is now the district's southeast corner at 24th Street and Potrero Avenue. Commerce first sprang up on 24th Street in the latter half of the 19th century to serve these outlying residents, who were cut off from the commercial strips on Valencia and Mission streets by a diagonal rail spur.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
11 comments
carlos.chavarinjr
carlos.chavarinjr

Great article,  Jaime Maldonado  said it best when stating, "I get sad that Latinos in my generation aren't more progressive and proactive in terms of understanding that things are going to cost to make things better."  This is exactly how I feel!  I thank you for including it in this article.

skemptastic
skemptastic

I've heard that the swim is first so fewer people drown (as in, you'd be much more likely to drown if you swam last, after being exhausted from biking and running). Very sad news about Ehlinger, at any rate.

LibertyHiller
LibertyHiller

Late to the party, but...  One small detail: St. Peter's was NOT the first Catholic parish built for the Irish community of SF. That honor belongs to St. Patrick's in SOMA, which is about 16 years older.

eddie.ferrusquia
eddie.ferrusquia like.author.displayName 1 Like

Great article on gentrification in the Mission District.You say “evolution of 24th Street”, I say socio-economic Darwinism.As a Latino and exile of my once-beloved neighborhood, I generally sense in my people a great deal of defeatism towards gentrification that would have been unimaginable just 40 years ago at the height of the Chicano Power movement.Whatever the hell happened to us since then is beyond me, but if it’s anybody’s fault that Latinos are being shoved into the armpits of California (no offense, Stockton) it’s probably us.

But before us Latinos all stock up on Speed Stick, allow me to leave a few words of wisdom to the new (read: mostly white) residents of the Mission:

Dear hipsters and yuppies: (Is there a difference, really?  I’m not being sarcastic; we really don’t know.  We just call you yupsters for the sake of clarity.)

Every time you walk down our streets at night, point and snap photos in our store windows while we’re working late, and go “oooh”, and “aaaah”, and “hahaha, isn’t that funny”, it’s actually fucking obnoxious.  The Mission is not a zoo and Latinos actually resent being treated like exhibits in our own neighborhood.  (“See the endangered Chicano in its native habitat before it's extinct!)  When the class-cleansing that started with Willie Brown has finally finished its work in San Francisco and there’s not a single one of us left, then you can open the exhibit.  Maybe breed a few of us in captivity.  Turn the place into a wax museum.  Preserve the traces we left behind so that future generations can discover who we were.  (“Look, they left paintings on the walls!”)

You might think we don't understand when you make fun of us, but chances are we do.  (BTW, they’re called quinceañera dresses, they're supposed to be big and colorful, and they're designed for 15 year old Latinas, not a gaggle of snickering, siddidy, 30-something white girls already way past their prime.  Sorry ladies, you couldn't rock those dresses if you tried.  If you find them overly ornate and ostentatious, why don’t you slip into something more your style, like a tasteful Scandinavian-inspired evening gown, or a bedsheet with straps?)

As much as we all love organic patchouli burgers, not all of us can afford to eat at upscale “foodie” joints.  Latinos for the most part find it counterproductive to impress first dates with conspicuous displays of wealth – we save that for the wedding.  Nor do we feel the need to wow her with our extensive knowledge of the esoteric world of kelp-based Sri Lankan cuisine.  You’d be surprised what we can do with pupusas and a sexy Spanish accent.  Don’t you yupsters have your fill of pretentiousness in the art scene?  Now you gotta be bougie about food?  How about just thanking God for something to eat in a city where hundreds of homeless go hungry every day?  But I’ll tell you what: you stop judging us for walking around with a Popeye’s drink, and we won’t make fun of your knit sweaters and corny old-timey mustaches.  Anymore.

Some things are just better left to the pros.  There’s something not quite right when November creeps upon us and the only people not actually marching at Day of the Dead are Mexicans.  It’s because we now know how black people felt when Elvis came along.  Day of the Dead is a sacred Mexican tradition, not a Halloween after-party.  Those of us who observe Day of the Dead have a connection rooted in hundreds of years of Aztec and Mexican culture that gives us the right to honor our ancestors in this way.  The only connection yupsters have to Day of the Dead is a pasty, almost skeletal complexion.

You can have Cinco de Mayo, though.  It’s BEEN played out for a minute now and really, it’s all about the booze anyway.

Truth is, whatever armpit we Latinos end up shoved into, we’ll always bring the Mission with us.  By the time we’ve all made the move to the unholy perimeter around the Bay Area, we will have brought with us drink, tacos, music, dance, murals, horchata, bachata, chancletas, women, men, rolling r’s, poetry, culture, and cholos.  In short, we will infuse LIFE into those barren wastelands of 100 degree summers and meth.  We turn armpits into cleavage!  Pretty soon the Mission will be the new armpit of San Francisco and yupsters will once again be on the prowl for a new trendy area to gentrify.  But as much as you yupsters won’t be able to resist telling all your friends about the scene in Watsonville and decide you want to “slum it up” for the weekend, please, this time do us all favor and stay home.  Don’t come running to our new hood when you’ve turned yours into Whitebreadistan and it’s no longer cool anymore.  Latinos know all about what happens to our neighborhoods when they become “hip”, and we hate packing.

- Ed  (Mexicanus Chicanicus)

gringo.salad
gringo.salad

@eddie.ferrusquia Latinos who bought real estate in the Mission are doing great - either from the increased commercial rents they now receive or from the sale of their properties.

tomkirvin
tomkirvin

Neighborhoods change over time. Just as Latinos moved into the Irish/Italian neighborhood and built 24th St. as we know it now, others will move into the Latino neighborhood and establish their cultures.

HIstory
HIstory

@tomkirvin  The Irish and Italians left on their own for the American dream in the suburbs.  Track homes were being built by the thousands and where cheap after world war two. They left not just from the Mission but from the Castro and other parts of the City. Housing in the city was abundant and inexpensive at one point.

Today people are being pushed out by developers, investors, realtors. They are being evicted for higher rents. Ellis Acts are on the rise again with the promise to move in and they don't or have family move in until they could rent again at higher rents. Tenants and business's are being harassed and bullied. The murals that made our neighborhood colorful are now being deemed ugly and removed.

Its a big difference.

tomkirvin
tomkirvin

@HIstory @tomkirvin My Mexican family left the Mission on their own, too, for the suburbs. I watched it happen in the '50s and '60s. I came back. You cannot legislatively create a neighborhood and certainly you should not do so by race or ethnicity. Neighborhoods evolve. They go away and return as something else.

eddie.ferrusquia
eddie.ferrusquia like.author.displayName 1 Like

@tomkirvin - the key difference this time around is that while the Irish and Italians moved out of their own accord (white flight into the suburbs), Latinos are being displaced by good old fashioned capitalism.

 
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...