How come, unlike many US cities, San Francisco still has lively downtown neighborhoods? : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

I am currently writing a thesis on ethnic communities in San Francisco and it struck me that unlike cities such as L.A or Atlanta San Francisco still has a lively downtown area with communities and neighborhoods. It seems that San Francisco did not suffer from decentralization and suburbanization as much as other cities. Why?

-- Caroline Vanderputten (, June 22, 2003


Unlike many American cities, San Francisco's growth is very limited by it's physical boundaries. "Urban sprawl" is something that is not really possible in SF. San Francisco is also considered to be one of the most urban and European-like of American cities. It tends to attract people from many places who want that experience.

-- Chad Fortner (, June 22, 2003.

The City did suffer from decentralization and suburbanization following World War II, but its original ethinic communities have been replaced with newer ones.

The City once had extensive Irish, Italian, German, Jewish and Japanese communities that were vibrant during the first half of the 20th the century. (Respectively, these communities were located in the South of Market, North Beach, the Mission & Excelsior Districts, the Western Addition, and "Japan Town", which was also in the Western Addition.)

These communities waned for a variety of reasons, mostly the post- war desire by the younger generations to move out of the City and own their homes. Many factors led to this exodus, but in my opinion the greatest was the low-rate Cal Vet mortgate loans offered by California to its returning veterans. This fueled a vast upheaval of native San Franciscans from the old neighborhoods to new 'burbs in places like Daly City, San Mateo, Corte Madera, etc, during the 1950s.

The vacuum in the older neighborhoods left by these mostly-white departees was filled with newer immigrants to SF such as Hispanics, Filippinos, African Americans, Russians, and an expansive Chinese- American community eager to move out of the confines of Chinatown.

-- John Martini (, June 23, 2003.

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