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. This time around, we welcome Kate Horton.
[Photo via Kate Horton]
Neighborhood: I've been known to tell people I live in Cow Hollow because technically I do, but who am I kidding. I live in the Marina.
Tell us something we don't know about the Marina: It's not awful. There are pockets of greatness, you just have to take the time to get past the artificial façade. There still beats a San Francisco heart deep down. Sure, The Marina is nearly unrecognizable from the neighborhood it was in the 80s when I'd ride my bike down Chestnut Street and wave at the old Italian ladies sweeping out their storefronts, but the charm and beauty do remain. Plus, it's super easy to get a cab here.
Local customs of note: Yoga pants, double-parking, jogging, wearing cargo shorts no matter the temperature, hungover brunch at Perry's, walking your dog while pushing a double-wide stroller and talking on the phone, picnic lunch from Lucca Delicatessen, pick-up basketball games at Moscone, puffy vests, waiting for the 22, takeout from Dragon Well, laughing at the tourists on the Segway tour, sacrificing your first born for an outside table.
Hidden gems: The Black Horse London Pub, which seats about eight and is the size of an alley because, well, it used to be an alley; Marina Library, where it's impossible to have a bad day after hearing the oohs and ahhs of pre-schoolers being read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs; the Wave Organ; Marina Submarine (owner Kyu has been making the best sandwiches in SF for over twenty years—Sorry, Ike); Marina Lounge; the docks at Fort Mason; Presidio Theatre (four screens, one bathroom, no fuss); Fredericksen Hardware's window displays; George R. Moscone Recreation Center, while not so hidden, some of its treasures do get overlooked—putting green, GIANT playground, tennis & basketball courts, not to mention the four baseball diamonds and the countless softball games played under Friday and every other night lights.
Are your neighbors "Rotten Neighbor" worthy, why or why not? I think it really depends on your block and your building. I basically live in a sorority house and I'm the angry local muttering to herself about "The Way It Was." And yet I know people who live in wonderful buildings with wonderful neighbors who will look in on your cat when you're out of town and help you carry your groceries up four flights of stairs. That same neighbor isn't afraid to run you over for a parking space, though.
Inflate the bubble or burst it: Look, the Marina has its faults (bad pun), but there's a reason I've stuck with it all these years. It's right on the Bay and really what's the point of living in San Francisco if you're not near the water? There's an endless bounty of restaurants and shops, year-round farmer's market at Fort Mason, tons of corner stores whose friendly owners have been here for decades and call you by name, no hills, perfect weather, front row seats for the Blue Angels, two Walgreens within blocks of each other, Mel's is always open and the Brazen Head serves until 1 a.m. There's plenty of room to breathe—Fort Mason Green, Marina Green, Crissy Field, The Presidio. The Palace of Fine Arts is your backyard and your most famous neighbor is the Golden Gate Bridge. Nowhere else can you gawk at the most beautiful man-made structure in the world while standing in a Safeway parking lot.
Final word: Foghorns. Best lullaby ever.