My family has lived in San Francisco since the 1880’s. I’m 65 years old and have seen the City (a real San Franciscan always calls it the “City” and certainly never “Frisco” according to my mother–a proud Daughter of the Golden West) change from old and decaying to “summer of love” decadence to gay capital to latest incarnation of tech center of the universe.
Upon a visit to see my son paying a remarkable amount to live in a walk-up in the Outer Richmond, I was struck by the obvious vibrancy of so many young, brilliant and beautiful living and playing together.
The City has always attracted the artistic, gifted, and bohemian but now is a magnet for those who want to invent and be part of the future. I won’t make this a paean to what is obvious and widely celebrated but I do want to point to one remarkable classless (in least pejorative sense) feature of life in the City.
I do not believe there has ever been such a commingling of servant and served where in the bars, restaurants, and parks the rich and poor are indistinguishable from each other as they eat, drink, and play together.
Now this is not to say that the homeless, addicted and criminalized are suddenly welcome in the condos that are encroaching on the Panhandle. But the woman who is coming to do your laundry or drive you to your meeting is likely to be just as attractive as you are, similarly educated, and occasionally on the receiving end of a Frisbee in a game of Ultimate in the park.
I spent a good part of my career in Washington where the first question upon meeting a new person was almost always “what do you do?” You don’t hear that much in San Francisco and if you do it’s usually answered with “I’m in tech. I teach. I work for a startup. I drive for …” There is not the suspicion or need to categorize that I found in DC.
Aspects of society in San Francisco today gives me reason to hope that a new more egalitarian culture is emerging along with the tools and toys that are bringing the world closer together.