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Curbed Cup First Round: (4) The Mission vs. (13) Polk Gulch

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The Curbed Cup, our award to the San Francisco neighborhood of the year, is kicking off with 16 'hoods competing for a glorious JPEG of an illustrated trophy. This week we'll have two matchups per day, and all the results and full tournament bracket will be reviewed on Friday. Voting for each pairing ends in the wee hours the next morning. Let the eliminations commence!

[Photos: the ol' west via Jason Rosete/Green @ Polk looking west via Chris Schmidt]

The Mission saw plenty of drama in 2011: Kink.com's armory is being threatened with a condos being built right next door and they're pissed about it; a 230,000-square-foot mixed-use project broke ground in October; San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum allegedly trashed his rental on Hampshire Street; Stanley Saitowitz's condo development got approved; and the gigantic church across from Dolores Park (aka Castle on the Park) was sold to a children's school down the street. Oh, and did we mention that Dolores Park is undergoing a significant renovation, complete with bike polo court and community input? We think one reader nailed it right on the head: "The Mission is the only San Francisco neighborhood that never sleeps."

Polk Gulch has the high and low arts intermingle in perfect discordance, and we can find anything our heart desires-- most of it open late! In the 'Gulch, now a hedonistic shang-ri-la that not so long ago was just plain scary, we spent the year taking in local punk rock and 80's, sushi and 6-inch deli sandwiches, and still leaving room for fresh donuts. We've done yoga and then imbibed with Playboy centerfolds in a booth fashioned from a 1970s Econoline. We finally learned how to make the smokey-eye in a spontaneous make-up lesson from a super-hot tranny; then we took ourselves closer to Union to flirt with boys in Stanford sweatshirts. Never mind Polk Gulch has been tagged "seedy" by Nabewise!

Poll results