On Thursday, media outlets, including Curbed SF, reported on the discovery of a queer space found underneath the 950 Market development—a tunnel that reportedly was used to discretely shuffle LGBT people underground during police raids in the 1930s. However, according to KPIX’s Joe Vazquez, who visited the space, this is a myth.
Curbed SF reached out to Group i, the developer in charge of the 950 Market space, whose public relations spokesperson, Jessica Berg, explained, “There are no tunnels under 950 Market. It is complete fiction, an accurate assertion.”
Berg went on to explain that the images used belonged to a planning commissioner.
The massive development along Market, which would result in 242 market-rate housing units and 232 hotel rooms, has been an inclusive project and one championed by many area residents, per the SF Planning Commission.
Nate Allbee, the legacy business preservationist who initially came forward with the story, explained his claims, saying that while he’s “obviously less excited” after seeing the KPIX report, he still believes a study of the space should be conducted.
“What we've heard from other people who have accessed the space is that there were multiple venues including gay bars on the 950 Market block that had access to the underground space and could use it to go from store to store, says Allbee. “That's why we're asking for a LGBT historian to spend time assessing all of the buildings including the below ground space for what may have been boarded up or changed in the last 70 years.”
Another hint at the possible existence of an underground tunnel appeared in a 2000 San Francisco Chronicle article, referencing 974 Market: “When the cops outsmarted [gay patrons] by coming in both sides, they'd outsmart the cops by going into a series of underground tunnels that connected the bars along the strip.”
Until then, it would appear that the underground tunnel network is, at least for now, a fantasy.