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Curbed Cup's Winner Lower Haight Before the Cheap Eats and Bars

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Public spaces change fast here in San Francisco, and for better or worse, it can be pretty crazy when you see what the City used to look like. Every week, we'll bring you Then & Now, a comparison of historic photos of the Bay Area with current views from the same perspective. Have a suggestion for a photo comparison that looks totally different (or shockingly the same)? Drop us a tip in the Curbed Inbox or leave a comment after the jump.

Quick note: See that vertical green bar in the middle of the then and now photos? You can move it horizontally to see the photos side by side.





[Then photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY/ Now photo: Google Maps]
This year's Curbed Cup winner was Lower Haight for the second year in a row. But before it was all Toronado and Noc Noc, the neighborhood was transformed into apartment buildings after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. For a long time, the Lower Haight was simply thought of as the far-west portion of the Western Addition. Though originally laid out in 1956, the area began to develop in the 1880s once a cable car line was established on Haight Street (the Market and Haight Red Line). The spot was always a popular mixed-use area, with commercial business opening along Haight between Buchanan and Divis.

View from Buena Vista Heights, baseball field in the middle is corner of Pierce and Haight, 1886 [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]

Though it was pretty much spared from the fire and damage of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, the need for massive amounts of housing for displaced residents caused the transformation from a middle-class neighborhood of single-family homes into densely populated multi-family apartments and flats. Little cottages were knocked down to build larger apartment buildings, and by the 1940s old Victorians were carved up into smaller units to house war workers. The 60s saw a turn for the worse crime-wise, with some notorious housing projects making the area pretty sketchy through the 80s. The unsafe reputation has faded over time, and today the 2012 Neighborhood of the Year is mostly mostly dominated by young apartment-dwellers who like cheap booze and are willing to wait in long weekend brunch lines.

· The Curbed Cup Neighborhood of the Year: Lower Haight! [Curbed SF]
· Market & Octavia Historic Context [SF Planning]