The Tenderloin must be one of the most, if not the most, complicated, controversial, and intriguing neighborhoods in the entire city of San Francisco. Even the origin of its name is rather contentious. On the one hand, some claim that the Tenderloin was named after another neighborhood in New York City. Still, others say the name originates from the fact that the police officers received extra pay, either due to the hazardous conditions they encountered, or from bribes paid by illegal businesses, or both. With this extra cash, they could afford to buy tenderloin. In any event, the Tenderloin has become synonymous with skid row, homelessness, drug dealing, and even prostitution. However, if you look at the area encompassed within this neighborhood, it includes some of the most expensive real estate, such as Union Square. The Tenderloin neighborhood is bound geographically by Geary Street, Grant Street, Market Street, McAllister Street, and Van Ness Avenue.
Because of the high density in this neighborhood, only apartments and condominiums are available to rent or buy, respectively. And the prices range from relatively low for the areas west of Powell Street to City Hall to pricey around Union Square and the immediate side streets to the north and east. Regardless of the potential inconveniences of urban living, its central location still makes it an attractive destination to live in. Many rental agencies, property managers, and realtors can help you find the right place. However, you can also start doing some research by visiting www.zillow.com or www.trulia.com to see listings with prices and descriptions.
The Tenderloin has had issues involving a crime for decades and will probably continue as such shortly. Still, there is considerable pressure from local merchants, residents, and politicians to clean up the entire area. However, the usual trend consists of seeing immediate and quick improvement, followed by a slide down to chaos. Within the last year, the homeless encampments were dismantled, and their owners were relocated indoors at the City’s expense and herculean efforts. However, there has been a resurgence of the encampments, albeit at a much smaller scale, but currently occurring. The important thing to remember is not to give up and actively try and improve the area. For further information regarding crime in the area, you can visit www.spotcrime.com or go to @SFPDTenderlon.
Since the Tenderloin is at the center of the City, there are tons of bus lines traversing the neighborhood, plus cable cars starting at Powell and Market, as well as the subway (Muni) and Bart stations at his same location, which can take you to any part of the City and, in the case of BART, down the peninsula and across the Bay.
Since the Tenderloin is a high traffic density area, and not all the neighborhood streets have bike lanes, cycling around here can be stressful. However, Market Street, at its southern border, has great bike lanes. Furthermore, you can walk to almost anywhere from here. Chinatown lies to the north of the Tenderloin, the Financial District to the east, and SOMA just across Market Street. Go to www.sfmta.com for traffic, transit, and commuter information.
Shopping and Dining
The most popular area to go shopping in Union Square and the streets immediately surrounding the square is Pot Street, Maiden Lane, and others. The larger department stores, such as Macy’s and Neiman Marcus, are located here, as are many medium-sized and smaller boutique shops. Additionally, many dining options are ranging from high-end restaurants to inexpensive cafes and snack shops. When this article was written, the future of many eateries was unknown due to the pandemic. However, there will be plenty of cuisine options in the Tenderloin once all restaurants reopen.
The nearest large food market, which I would recommend, is the Trader Joe’s located on 4th Street just south of Market Street. Otherwise, many smaller convenience stores are dotting the various neighborhood blocks in the Tenderloin.
Parks and Recreation
Officially there are no parks per se in the Tenderloin. However, there are several great options in the adjoining neighborhoods, such as Jefferson Square in Hayes Valley, Fillmore, Yerba Buena Gardens south of Market Street, and Civic Center Plaza just to the east of City Hall.
Additionally, there is the Tenderloin Children’s Playground located on Ellis Street between Hyde and Leavenworth. There are some mixed reviews regarding this playground. However, the City has recently made some major improvements, and they hope it becomes a destination point for residents.
Schools and Libraries
There are public schools in neighboring neighborhoods, but officially none within the Tenderloin. However, there is an accessible Catholic school, De Marillac Academy, located at 175 Golden Gate Avenue. You can visit their website for more information at www.demarillac.org. Additionally, you can find out more information about this school and other non-public academies at www.niche.com. For information regarding public schools nearby, as well as around the City, visit www.sfusd.edu.
The City’s Main Library, located at 100 Larkin Street, is just a block south of the Tenderloin’s southern boundary. It houses the largest collection of books, periodicals, CDs, DVDs, etc., in the City and the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center. The center is home to gay literature, as well as some small historical exhibits. A visit to the library is well worth the time and effort.