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Noe Valley – Bringing You Blight Since 1945

November 10, 2009

Oh, Noe, you looked down upon the Mission and thought you were blight free. But 1945 disagrees:

“San Francisco is an old city. Much of it is built of wood. The areas of obvious blight and decay are generally those spared by the 1906 fire. Here buildings 40, 50, and 60 years old are crowded together. They have been patched, repaired, and changed into apartments, stores, rooming houses, and garages. The districts in which these conditions are found are convenient to the business and industrial centers. Streets, schools, and utilities are all in. The land is gently sloping, the climate excellent. But the future of this once valuable property will be dark until the old structures can be scrapped and attractive new buildings adapted to modern needs can be built on the land.

Eric brings us the blighted Noe Valley in 1945:

“Blight disfigures San Francisco, drives people out of the city, interferes with business and industrial development, lowers the value of good property, increases the costs of government. An attractive, new city can be built by reclaiming blighted areas.”

This is 1945, looking north on Sanchez, with Duncan on the bottom and 25th on the top:

1945 N on Sanchez, Duncan+25th

Link to today via Microsoft’s birdseye view, but for easy comparison let us zoom in and see the utopian vision brought on by the sweeping aside of blight and decay, with so many chang… err, wait…  I think only one building turned over.

27th to 26th, Sanchez and Noe highlight

Oh, lazy post-war San Franciscans. You missed your chance to reubuild a glorious and shiny future!  History clearly will curse you for ignoring those fateful words of the wise 1945 planners — this once valuable property will be dark until the old structures can be scrapped and attractive new buildings adapted to modern needs.

Poor, poverty-stricken Noe Valley, worth nothing.

27th to 26th, Sanchez and Noe prices

Makes you wonder what Fillmore and the Western Addition would have been like had the city not so generously redeveloped it.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2009 4:28 pm

    I grew up in Noe Valley and my parents were telling me that when we were kids, we had NO trick or treaters at our house on 26th & Sanchez, they said there were very few kids period. We walked around their old neighborhood a few weeks ago and they were like, “ugh, too many kids!”


  2. Concerned Guajolote permalink
    November 10, 2009 6:28 pm

    Funny thing about those streets, is that you can march up them and forward in time. The 1910-11 construction boom is down by Dolores, the teens, 20’s and 30’s go up to about Douglass, then after Hoffman is 40’s and 50’s, with 60’s around Grand View and 70’s+ on Twin Peaks. You can talk to really surprisingly young people who remember the construction above market. This all basically stops in the mid 80’s when the crackpot planners went from wanting to tear everything down to wanting to keep everything as it currently is forever. Their ideas have changed 180 degrees in the span of a single tenureship, but their insistence on imposing their crackpothood on everyone else is completely unshaken.

    The only good thing you can say about the previous generation of crackpots is that they indeed would have been shocked to hear that San Francisco would be smaller in 60 years than it then was, housing costs would be so ludicrous, and that their grandchildren would be living in deserts like Reno and Phoenix, because of decisions made by their children.

  3. gregory permalink
    November 10, 2009 9:37 pm

    also, the definition of “modern needs” changes all the time. i am certain that nearly all of those houses had electrical upgrades, phone, dsl, even totally rebuilt kitchens between the two images.

    also, the victorian look became charming instead of “old” — look at the date range: “buildings 40, 50, 60 years old” — maybe buildings that old always look dowdy (cf 1970s, 1980s today)?

  4. November 10, 2009 10:11 pm

    Indeed, most. But I’ve certainly seen a couple of open houses in Noe that probably hadn’t been touched since that picture was taken (but were still going for $800K).

    I like your “rolling old” tacky theory — anything 40 years old is considered crap (which means TK and I are screwed) but it becomes ‘classic’ later. (Yes!)

  5. sasha h. permalink
    November 12, 2009 12:37 pm

    Re: Concerned Guajolote – There’s no coincidence that as major industries shifted and transportation technology changed, so did where people live (from walking distance to factories to driving distance to offices [that is misleading generalization, but you get the point]).

  6. November 13, 2009 11:20 am

    How long do I have to wait to become “classic”?

    I love “rolling old.” I’m totally using that. “I’m rolling old tonight, bitchez.”

  7. November 13, 2009 10:52 pm

    Classic = hipster dad at Pi Bar.

  8. gregory permalink
    November 14, 2009 12:29 am

    yeah, just look at “midcentury modern,” the architectural style formerly known as “ticky-tacky.”

    (that’s re rolling old, not pi bar… and as a hipster dad myself i… well i guess i have to get over to pi bar…)

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