Thursday, October 14, 2021

Out and about observations

So what did I learn about our post-pandemic (we hope) city from walking 24th Street east of Mission, Valencia, 24th Street up the hill into Noe Valley, and Mission Street proper? Here are some surface impressions, probably overdrawn, but for what it is worth ...

There are plenty of empty and boarded up storefronts in all these commercial corridors. There are also plenty of dining sheds in what used to be parking spots.

This rather antic one is an extension of the Napper Tandy at 24th and South Van Ness. This establishment seems to be doing a good business, though more around the corner on 24th than here. In general, though there were gaps, the small businesses in the Latino Cultural District seemed to be soldiering on surprisingly well.

In Noe Valley, the dining sheds seemed more substantial and utilitarian. Restaurants which were open seemed to have considerable custom on a warm Saturday. But my impression was that the carnage among the small businesses that occupied street level store fronts was even more extreme than at the other end of 24th. Perhaps the rents were higher to begin with, so casualties of pandemic closures were more numerous?

By comparison, the Valencia corridor felt lively. And not just the dining sheds ... many retail storefronts were open and seemed to be getting traffic. As was true of all of us, pandemic survival was higher among the young and Valencia feels young, busy, and in a hurry.

Mission Street is another world. There's commerce alright. The BART plaza at 24th Street is an open air market -- many of the goods look as if they'd been pilfered from Walgreens. There are lots of closed stores in the section I walked -- far and away the highest percentage among these four commercial strips. But that doesn't mean the sidewalks are empty. There's also the most foot traffic here -- people of all races and gender presentations -- moving purposefully about their business. Yet the demise of so many long time businesses (and this was going on before the pandemic) make the street seem a little sad. There's life, but a little too much unhappy madness, great fatigue, and not enough joy.

They're back! Although a lot of the Silicon Valley folks are still working from home, the Google buses are once more crowding streets not built for such behemoths. Their absence was a gift of the virus.

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