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Home Sweet Home

 

A two‐year resident of the emerging Central Market district comments on her neighborhood’s evolution and ambiance.

 

 —

 

I’m still not 100% immune to the pee‐stench, drug addicts, and bums loitering around the neighborhood, but I would say that I have come to terms to what it’s like to live in the heart of Central Market. I have been living in one of the three recently renovated old loft buildings run by the San Francisco Office Lofts. The three buildings stand sparsely apart on Market Street between 6th and 7th Streets, giving me the chance to study the area’s development in close proximity.

 

 

Most of my friends voice comments and concerns about my living here, but I always assure them that I could never be safer living in this building. You need an access code to enter the lobby, an elevator key to get to your specific floor, and your own key to get into your unit. My neighbors are mostly friendly, professional people who don’t seem to have any problems with the area, either. We do have a back entrance that leads to Stevenson Street, though. This is a small, dark alley behind Market Street that’s a perfect bedroom for our Central Market bums and a private place for drug dealing. But if you don’t deal with them, they won’t to bother you.

 

 

There’s a total of five blocks that make up Central Market, between 5th and 10th Streets. Sometimes when I tell people were I live, I say, “It’s a block away from San Francisco Mall.” It doesn’t sound as ghetto—and downtown shoppers know the landmark. I’d rather say, “I live in the Central Market district, two doors away from the International Art Museum of America.” But Central Market isn’t there yet. In 2010, the city put a lot of effort into making the district more enjoyable, sustainable, and safer. The results make it easier to think of Central Market as an extension of the already popular Union Square area—reinforced by the shops that have opened up on Market Street between 5th and 6th Streets, and more recently along 7th Street.

 

 

Another effort to improve the area is the ARTery project. Its purpose is to place art installations and murals by San Francisco artists in vacant storefront windows and drab exterior walls to “add color” to an otherwise gloomy streetscape. The art is often contextual, as with Alexis Arnold’s window of old bike rims with glinting crystals and gold‐painted U‐locks, highlighting Market Street’s bicycle culture.

 

 

Huckleberry Bicycles, formerly known as “that free bike repair at the corner of Market and 7th,” recently opened a few doors down from mine. The shop has a mid-century modern, casual feel. Despite their newly opened shop, they still run their free bike‐repair stand every morning at the corner. Thanks to their top‐notch service, more and more cyclists are coming by to check out the store and socialize.

 

 

Another thing that’s hard to miss while strolling along Market Street toward UN Plaza is the pair of oversized steel sculptures by artist Karen Cusolito. The impressive dandelion and valiant flowers, better known as the Market Street Blooms, stand facing each other, an ecological twist on the idea of survival against the odds. Cusolito, who has previously worked on large‐scale works for Burning Man, was commissioned by the SFAC to create them. I find them somewhat creepy, especially when the sun goes down and the Blooms shoot red beams out of their stamens.

 

I’ve also noticed that a group of citizens wearing vests that say “Central Market Ambassador” meet up every afternoon at the corner of Market and 6th to patrol the area. This is a program started by Mayor Ed Lee, to make sure that the area is safe for people to walk from end to end—and directs them to the MUNI/BART station. It doesn’t make me feel any safer, but it’s probably good for tourists, who may not know where to go and what to expect when they first encounter the district.

 

 

Of course, there are other places to go in the district that make it stand out even before redevelopment kicks in. One example is the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market that’s held every Wednesday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Unlike its sister market at the Ferry Building, the one in UN Plaza doesn’t attract as many tourists. With its cheaper rent, the differences in prices are significant. I like going there in the mornings, when the farmers are still pulling their trucks into the compound. You can totally sniff the whole farm‐to‐table idea.

 

 

 

All photos by Rika Putri.

Comments

  1. Good job Rika! Great Pics.

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