How the Internet ruined

How the Internet ruined - How the Internet Ruined San...

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“How the Internet Ruined San Francisco” The dot-com invasion -- call them twerps with 'tude -- is destroying everything that made San Francisco weird and wonderful. By Paulina Borsook Salon.com, Oct 28, 1999 I had the misfortune to live in Manhattan during the '80s, when all conversations turned ineluctably to real estate and the shops and people that made New York interesting were being wiped out by a boom economy. Then, you'd see a slightly faded kosher butcher shop replaced by an Italian fusion restaurant, what was the rehearsal space for a dance troupe become a lawyer loft. Now in late-'90s San Francisco, you can have all the Manhattan greed-is-good bull-economy moments you like. Freed, Teller and Freed, the oldest coffee and tea seller in the city (established 1899, its handcrank cash register in use until the end) survived all -- earthquakes, the Depression, Starbucks -- but it couldn't survive the Internetting of San Francisco: It closed Oct. 15, its building to become condos. You can stand on Sixth Street smack in the middle of SOMA (where Wired got its start) and the flow of traffic now evokes Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Parking is bad all over the city, the gratuitous kindness from strangers and service personnel I always so pleasantly contrasted with New York is fading fast, and it's beginning to be all too clear that people have no slack in their lives. Commercial real-estate prices have gone up 42 percent since 1997 in San Francisco's Mission District, a formerly working-class, affordable, largely Latino neighborhood where in the old days auslanders only ventured to get burritos at Taqueria La Cumbre and sex toys at Good Vibrations. Now it's the scene of some of the most bitter class struggles in the city, the Yuppie Eradication Project (let's key those SUVs!) vs. sleek dot-com people, who look like nothing so much as the slickers I cowered from in the '80s, who lived on Manhattan's Upper East Side and commuted to Wall Street. On happening Valencia Street, where druggies and minimum-wage immigrants walk past their economic superiors, a fenced-in parking lot has appeared, where a white-coated valet protects a phalanx of Mercedes and Lexus SUVs from the neighborhood. By 1998 two-thirds of the people living in the Mission were new arrivals -- mostly from Wharton or MIT, not Honduras, you may be sure. The median price of a San Francisco condo was $410,000 in August 1999, more than a 40-percent increase from August 1998. The median rental price for a two-bedroom apartment was $2,000. Avalon Towers, the first high-rise apartment to go up in San Francisco in more than a decade, has had no trouble attracting tenants who pay rents ranging from $2,400 to $4,000 a month. Eighty- five percent of them earn more than $100,000 per year, 60 percent are under 40, and two-thirds are new to the city. Good bet these aren't the bad poets, malcontents, and fruits and nuts looking for a new start that the city has always attracted.
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