De-gentrifying the streetscape : reclaiming tactical urbanism for San Francisco's Tenderloin
Author(s)Ryan, Annie (Annie Fisher)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Brent D. Ryan.
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San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood is often described in classic "skid row" terms as a neighborhood characterized by crime, prostitution, drugs, homelessness, seedy hotels, and rampant blight. It is described as 'hopeless' and 'lost', and a place to be avoided at all costs. In reality, the Tenderloin is a more complex neighborhood than a simple skid row definition allows, with a rich fabric of social dynamics, built form, local heroes,and powerful villains. While the historic culture bearers of other San Francisco neighborhoods have been gradually pushed out by younger, richer, tech-affiliated residents with little understanding of the historical context they have settled in, the Tenderloin has managed to retain its intrinsic grit, codify its historic artifacts, and ward off attempts to soften or commodify its rough edges through gentrification. Given the rapid rate at which income inequality and low-income displacement is transforming the social conditions and power dynamics within neighborhoods throughout San Francisco, this thesis uses the Tenderloin as a living laboratory for answering the flowing questions: To what extent has the Tenderloin resisted the forces of gentrification that have meanwhile infiltrated bordering neighborhoods such as Union Square and Mid-Market? What are the physical and social design qualities of the Tenderloin neighborhood that have allowed it to resist whole-sale changes to its function as a provider of affordable housing and shelter for San Francisco's most marginalized and vulnerable populations? To what extent does the urban form of the Tenderloin allow for continued resistance of gentrification, and what role(s) does it allow for planners and designers to assist in curating this continued resistance? This thesis begins with a field study of the neighborhood's public realm, undertaken in January and March of 2017. The resulting observations and conversations with public realm users served as the primary data source for the research, along with secondary data sources on the Tenderloin's development history from its reconstruction after the 1906 earthquake to the present. From these findings, this thesis concludes with a series of public realm design recommendations for preserving the Tenderloin as a sustainer of low-income people and as a shelter for those beyond the scope of the tech industry's viewfinder.
Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2017.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 170-175).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.