Fog City Blues
The Tenderloin District
The Tenderloin is a neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, California, in the flatlands on the southern slope of Nob Hill, situated between the Union Square shopping district to the northeast and the Civic Center office district to the southwest. It encompasses about 50 square blocks and a conservative description has it bounded on the north by Geary Street, on the east by Mason Street, on the south by Market Street and on the west by Van Ness Avenue. The northern boundary with Lower Nob Hill historically has been set at Geary Street.
The terms Tenderloin Heights or The Tendernob refer to the area around the indefinite boundary between the Upper Tenderloin and Lower Nob Hill. The eastern extent, near Union Square, overlaps with the Theater District. Part of the western extent of the Tenderloin, Larkin and Hyde Streets between Turk and O’Farrell, was officially named “Little Saigon” by the City of San Francisco.
The Tenderloin’s always been contested area between Fog City’s gangs and hustlers. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Francisco, and it’s pretty much been the bad side of town since the late 1840’s. Hell, Tessie Wall began her career as a madam in the Tenderloin in 1898.
The whole district got demolished in the 1906 quake, but that didn’t do much to clear the blight out of the Tenderloin. Hotels and apartments were back up and running by 1907, and with them, the gambling and whoring that made the district famous.
If you want to know about the comings and goings of the Tenderloin, the guy to ask would be Vladi, though I don’t really recommend seeking him out. He’s been around forever, but word is that he’s not a guy to be fucked with, and he doesn’t take kindly to people pestering him.