Look How Much San Francisco Has Changed In 3 Years

Matt RosoffTwitter HQ

Three years ago, Twitter announced that it was moving into a deserted building in one of the worst parts of the city.

Twitter made the move because the City of San Francisco had created a new tax-free zone in that neighbourhood, known as Mid Market.

We took a walk around the neighbourhood in July 2011 to see exactly what Twitter was getting itself into. It didn’t look pretty. But Twitter made the move, and a bunch of other tech companies followed. Then came the residential developers. Then the other businesses.

Three years later, the change is startling. See for yourself…

First, a reminder. This is what the building looked like before Twitter moved in.

Here's what it looks like today.

The most obvious change is the number of people in the street. In this picture from three years ago, this neighbourhood didn't have much foot traffic at all. It was kind of grim.

Today, there are people everywhere.

We must have seen a couple hundred bicyclists heading to work. This is just one shot, but the stream of bikers was almost constant this morning.

San Francisco is a small city, and its public transportation system is kind of broken, so biking is a great way to get around. But you didn't see anything like this on this part of Market Street three years ago.

Remember this abandoned parking garage entrance?

Now it's an entrance to the building, which is filled with tech companies and other businesses.

The lobby is pretty plush. That weird thing on the right is a sculpture by Nick Cave. We've seen his work in a fancy VC's office down on Sand Hill Road.

Let's cross the street. Three years ago, there was a bombed out vacant lot here.

Not anymore! Now it's NEMA, a new luxury apartment complex.

It's got 754 units, a 7,000-square-foot fitness center, and 1,500-square-foot 'energy solarium.' Rent starts at over $3,400 for a studio apartment. Here are some street-level signs advertising the place.

Sure seems like they're catering to tech workers, doesn't it?

This is one of the views from inside the building.

This is going to be another huge apartment complex, TrinitySF.

It will take up most of a full city block.

Three years ago? It was another deserted lot.

There's more to come, too. This is another mixed-use development going up a block away.

Twitter isn't the only tech company around, either. Here's the new headquarters for Zendesk, which went public earlier this year.

The building was totally gutted and renovated, and opened right after Zendesk's IPO. It's quite beautiful.

Here's a sample of what it's like inside Zendesk

It also casts bright lights onto the street at night, which makes the block feel more welcoming, or at least a little bit safer.

This is the Warfield Theatre building. The theatre has been there forever. Jerry Garcia used to play there all the time.

But now it's been totally renovated and holds a bunch of tech startups, like Spotify and Quip, and VC firm Benchmark Capital.

Here's an example of a smaller building restored to glory.

It's another luxury apartment building called The Wilson. The leasing office boasts it was 're-established' in 2014.

This deserted bank has been an eyesore for decades. It's going to be housing new businesses next year, although we don't know who's moving in yet.

As tech companies bring more people into the neighbourhood, the types of businesses on the street level are starting to change. Sure, there are still plenty of check-cashing places and discount stores...

But there are also places like Littlejohn's, which makes handcrafted English toffee. It started in Los Angeles, but opened this branch a couple years ago.

Nice restaurants.

And fancy beer bars, like this one on the ground floor of a luxury apartment building.

And this one, Mikkeller, which has become one of the trendiest places for tech workers to hang out after work. You can't get a seat here after 6 p.m. most nights.

Then there's this place, which promises to teach the practice of female orgasm through meditation. Well, it's still San Francisco, after all.

Now, take a tour through one of the big new tech buildings in this part of town..

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