601 Broderick Street at Grove in the heart of NoPa went on the market on October 10th for $5,875,000, 2 1/2 years after the foreclosed black church and fixer-upper was snatched up for 40% above asking at $1,401,000. The open house offered valet service and sushi. Curbed sf’s Tracy Elsen calls it “our absolute favorite flip of the year.”
Pictured here is not a new anti-graffiti effort by San Francisco’s Public Works Department. As if the neighborhood hasn’t become white enough, Absolut Vodka has come to town with its artistic promotion of inebriation “Open Canvas” whitewashing San Francisco’s Divisadero Corridor between Hayes and Grove to create a blank canvas for the work of selected artists while providing the Vodka an advertisement in the form of a news event.
At San Francisco’s Vinyl Coffee and Wine Bar at Fell and Divisidero big bucks are paid for the Banksy-like work of Eddie Colla top and X’s “Thank you, Andy” at right. The art successfully gives Vinyl some insider street cred in a traffic-challenged location.
“Berlin-prettier than ever!” beckons the 1947 prop art poster for Soviet East Berlin’s 5-year plan for the rebuilding of social housing and infrastructure following the devastation of the Allies’ bombardment and the Soviet invasion.
Distance provides perspective. Unpacking our mental suitcase from a recent summer holiday in graffitti-bedighted East Berlin, we edit snapshots, positioning them for inevitable comparisons to our own living situation, in our own neighborhood in the Western Addition considering topics of street art, gentrification, bicycles, social housing, memorials and population relocation.
The changes in Berlin have been cataclysmic. A city of 4.5 million in 1939, the population now stands at 3.5 million, 25% un-occupied, uncrowded and affordable. For those with connections to Eastern European immigrants, the absence of a vibrant Jewish culture in Berlin is a palpable loss. The World War and Cold War past is still present in the empty lots, the bullet-pocked plaster, the missing windows, and graffitied squats standing side by side with chic window displays, hot clubs, cool condos and high art.
“The last days are here.” 80-something, Ray takes his morning constitutional down to the corner store, at Broderick and Fulton around 8 am, hangs out to catch his breath, smoke a cigarette, socialize and sometimes prophesize. We talk about the recent foreclosure and sale of the Gethsemane Missionary Baptist a block away. “I’d been sayin’ it all along, it’s the last days, I do believe that. The last days are here!”
The Gethsemane Missionary Baptist at Grove and Broderick is the latest of Western Addition’s church closures. Neighbor Bill reports the church had been failing for a while and was not shocked to hear the loan had been foreclosed and the property sold. The realtor for sale reports the interior was in shambles.
I bump into Dharma, drinking lattes, a block east at Mojo. He recalls, “I think maybe it was 2004. I ‘member walkin’ by and those walls were like pumpin’.” Here he makes a squeeze-box oompah gesture. “Yeah, it was this cool, loud gospel music. We stuck our heads in, but it didn’t exactly feel right. So ….”
The First Apostolic Faith Church displays a Pentecostal purity of form in stark contrast to the ornament laden Victorians that populate the neighborhood. Cleansed of its Victorian ornament to a powerful austerity and a puritanical severity, the First Apostolic Faith Church at Pierce and Bush, top, provides an affordable and architectural alternative to the prevailing upper middle class styling common in Lower Pacific Heights in Western Addition’s upper end. It represents one of many small and endangered churches still active as its supporting congregation is pushed out of the neighborhood to make way for a less evangelical population.
On Thursday evenings and Sundays mornings, the largely white neighborhoods of the Western Addition are transfigured by voices singing the gospel and shouting Amen from within the local African Americans churches of what were predominantly black neighborhoods. Once occupying the entire Western Addition as “the Harlem of the West“, the now scattered black community reassembles in the church choirs and congregations with former neighbors driving in from more affordable neighborhoods across the city, and across the bay for worship and community.
May 25th, 2012, Leah Garchik’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the Haight Ashbury Reunion which occurred on May 12th bringing together former and lifetime residents of the Haight Ashbury to party in the Golden Gate Park Panhandle. The group was predominantly African American like the neighborhood 50 years ago. Garchik reports many had graduated Dudley Stone Elementary, now De Avila Chinese Immersion on Haight, in 1970 and 1971 to become among the first bussed out of their neighborhoods to A.P. Giannini Middle School at 37th and Ortega, 4.5 miles away. Roslynn Grimal, now of El Sobrante, recalls, “Not only were we exposed to a different class of people, but it was the first time a lot of us were in school with anybody other than African Americans.” Craig Cook, formerly of Waller Street, adds, “We were, like, sightseeing. We saw grass. People had lawns…”
The Google, Facebook, Apple and Yahoo Commuter Buses have become a familiar sight along the Divisadero Street Corridor in San Francisco’s Western Addition. The buses bring new income levels to the Western Addition, increasing the commercial vitality as well as increasing pressure on existing housing, businesses and institutions to serve a newer, moneyed class.
Emblematic of the transformation on Divisadero is the replacement in October of a little-used local market (shown at top) by the second outpost of the incredibly popular Bi-Rite Market — their motto: “In our community, on our table”. Currently successful in the gourmet ghetto of the Mission they are mid-block on 18th Street up from Guerrero Street along with the packed Tartine Bakery, Delfina Restaurant, Pizzeria Delfina, and Bi-rite Ice Creamery. As shoppers arrive on foot, bike and BMW, Bi-rite Market could accurately be described as either harbinger of local food justice or boutique grocery.