San Francisco’s Mid-Market region (roughly the stretch of Market Street between the intersections with Fifth and Ninth Streets) has defeated and mystified planners for decades. Given the strategic location, one might think that Mid-Market would be our city’s grandest thoroughfare: elegant, clean, a place where people would go to see and be seen. In reality: check cashing stores, strip joints, liquor stores, drug dealing, homelessness.
Also, lots of abandoned storefronts.
I took all of these pictures from inside the 6-Parnassus bus. Shooting with a point-and-shoot through a glass window in poor light on a moving bus produced some odd effects, usually at least a little blurring.
Mayor Lee has a vision for a drastically different Mid-Market (every Mayor has a vision for a drastically different Mid-Market–seems to be a job requirement), one with no traffic aside from City vehicles and taxicabs, cleaner and wider sidewalks and a retail district expanded from its current limits at Fifth and Market. To be fair, one enormous project on Market between Fifth and Sixth, plus a second at Market at Sixth, have begun and promise to bring new housing and jobs to a frankly blighted area.
Trouble is, ’tis not just buildings that are abandoned. So are people.
City Hall has a new set of plans for housing our homeless (every City Hall has had a new set of plans for housing our homeless). This set has potential and might work; the City has taken in significantly increased tax revenues thanks to changes in the code, plus the current boom. I’ve lived through booms, and I’ve lived through busts, and given the choice I’d rather have the booms, no matter what problems they bring. Unfortunately, if our plans work, they might have the undesired side effect of increasing the number of states that use “Greyhound Therapy” to get rid of their own homeless (“Let’s bus our homeless to San Francisco! Make those kooky liberals spend their money to take care of them!”).
But for now, we still have staggering poverty in the midst of staggering wealth.
Back to the photography.
For the next two pictures, I decided to take the blurry originals and apply painterly effects to them. They seemed like the sort of subjects that would have inspired one of my favorite painters Edward Hopper, and I wanted to try and obtain the same sort of, for lack of a better word, feel.
Vonn Scott Bair