Thursday, June 1, 2017

The East Cut

Ah yes:

What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

Anyway, I learn today that the place where I work has a new name: New image for a slice of SF: The East Cut

History buffs will catch the reference to when Rincon Hill was bisected in 1869 to make Second Street a flat thoroughfare connecting downtown and the commercial waterfront. There’s a quest for cool as well: to identify this a place with “constant motion and evolution, serendipitous encounters, unanticipated inspiration,” according to the district website.

With the name comes a logo of three horizontal bars connected to form an abstract E. One represents Rincon Hill. Another represents what planners call the Transbay District. In the middle is Folsom Street, which the city plans to upgrade with wide sidewalks and landscaping to humanize the towers on either side.

It's not just me who works here, of course. Probably 100,000 people work inside this neighborhood, showing up every day at places like Linked In, Google, Splunk, DropBox, Mozilla, Salesforce, and on and on and on. It's an astonishingly vibrant neighborhood, with an energy and intensity and excitement that you just have to feel to believe.

Of course, it already had a name, sort of:

“I don’t know why they want to rebrand Rincon Hill, which is real and historic and accurate,” said Lauri Mashoian, who lives with her family on First Street in a restored industrial building.


“Nobody really knows where Rincon Hill is, or what it is,” Robinson suggested a bit sheepishly.

Which is, of course, just crazy. Everybody should know where Rincon Hill is, and what it is. Why, just go read about it: February, 1869 The laceration of Rincon Hill

According to the Annals of San Francisco, by 1853 Rincon Hill was dotted with “numerous elegant structures” — including the little gated community of South Park. By the 1860s, the Hill was covered with mansions in a riot of architectural styles, and had become the social epicenter of the young city.

For these parts, that's a long time ago; it's what passes for history. (South Park is just beautiful, still, by the way.)

Wandering around these streets nowadays, it's terribly hard to envision what it must have been like in the 1850's, just after the Gold Rush had begun, when San Francisco was the center of the nation, if not the world: everybody who could possibly arrange it was traveling to San Francisco to Start Over, to Make Their Fortune, to be Part Of Something Big, to Change The World.

Oh, wait.

Perhaps it's not so hard to imagine those days, after all, even if it's a different sort of Gold Rush nowadays.

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