On a recent visit to San Francisco, friends and coworkers urged me to check out the Mission District, a bustling Latino neighbourhood famed for its oversize burritos, arts scene, and activism.
The word “hipster” may have originated in Brooklyn, but the Mission District has co-opted it and taken it to a new level. The neighbourhood is abundant in beards, denim shirts, artisanal cheese, bicycles, and overpriced lattes. It felt like Williamsburg on steroids.
Just as many of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods became havens of urban wealth in the 1990s, the Mission is no stranger to gentrification, having lost much of its working-class community during the dot-com bubble. As the demand for tech workers rises again in San Francisco, rents in the neighbourhood are skyrocketing — they rose 20% in 2014, according to Zumper — and trendy retailers are moving in.
I spent a day in the Mission to see how this transformation was playing out.
In the last five years, the tech sector created 34,000 jobs in San Francisco. In search of affordable housing, programmers, developers, and designers rode into the outlying neighborhoods on winged chariots, or tech campus shuttle buses.
Ten thousand of those new jobs popped up in the last year alone, according to Jordan Levine, director of economic research at Beacon Economics. Levine says those numbers could be even higher, as the Employment Development Department is subject to confidentiality rules that blur the full 'tech' picture.