New feature alert: The People's Guide is Curbed SF's tour o' the nabes, lead by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone.
Notice a new voice on Curbed SF over the past few weeks? In today's edition we're rather thrilled to introduce a new member of Team Curbed SF, blogger Jimmy Stamp of Life Without Buildings.
[Tennis Courts at
Yerba Buena Park Buena Vista Park. Flogging ourselves as we type . . .]
Name: Jimmy Stamp
Nabe: The Haight
Q: Tell us something we don't know about The Haight:
A: I never expected myself to live in this city (transplant alert!), much less near the corner of Haight and Ashbury, and I definitely had some preconceived notions about the place. Thankfully, I was pretty far off. Is it touristy? Definitely. Is it still full of hippies? Well, there are a few old burnouts mixed in with the pandhandling trustafarians, but the tourists and boutique shoppers outnumber them. The most pleasant surprise when I moved here was the pedestrian lifestyle I now enjoy. The market, the pharmancy, the dry cleaner, the record shop, cafes, bars, restaurants, parks – all this (and more, of course) is within walking distance. And when I need to get around the city, there are 6 bus lines running through the Haight and the N is only a short walk away. In short, EVERYTHING is incredibly accessible.
Q: Local customs of note:
A: Let's see...there's a couple that immediately spring to mind: 1) running the gauntlet of panhandlers and amateur drug dealers when you're just trying to get a slice of pizza. 2) Little yellow tourist cars zipping through the nabe on weekend afternoon, shattering naps and aggravating hangovers with their recordings of "YOU ARE NOW APPROACHING THE HISTORIC INTERSECTION OF HAIGHT AND ASHBURY."
Q: Are your neighbors "Rotten Neighbor" worthy? If so, dish. If not . . . well, why not?
A: The neighbors are great, and that includes the shopkeepers. A lot of the people who work in the neighborhood also live here. So you'll see the hardware store guy at the video store, the video store guy at the market, the market girls at our parties. It's sometimes like Mayberry...only with more homeless people. As long as you don't mind that, and the occasional incredibly loud house party with kids screaming Van halen lyrics, you'll fit right in.
Q: Hidden gems in the Haight?
A: The tennis court in Buena Vista Park has to be the most beautiful court in the city. A lush park on one side and astounding views of the city on the other. I'm surprised at how may people - even people in the neighborhood - haven't been to Buena Vista Park. Citrus club has the best thai chicken noodle soup in the city. And then there's the local "newspaper" (and I use the term loosely), The Haight Street Beat, where you'll find such hard hitting stories as "some guy might've been selling drugs and the cops were like, giving him a hard time." Journalism at its finest.
Q: Inflate the bubble, or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood? If your nabe is an underdog, what's being overlooked?
A: Well, I hear parking can be a problem, but that's pretty much true everywhere in the city. It also can be a little annoying to have to step over sleeping transients on my way to work in the morning. Other than that, it's been a fantastic place to live. Wait...should I say some more negative things here to burst this bubble so I can maybe one day afford to buy in the area?
Q: The final word on the Haight:
A: For the final word, I'll quote one of the local Haight street independent businessmen: "nuggets?"