If there's one thing San Franciscans love, it's patting themselves on the back for successfully gentrifying a new neighborhood.
To that end, the local non-profit Neighborhood Empowerment Network has named the Divisadero Corridor the "Comeback Neighborhood of the Year."
Once considered just another corner of the Western Addition, the section of Divisadero Street between Haight and McAllister Streets was, as the San Francisco Chronicle put it, "long known as a gritty stretch of seedy dive bars, failed businesses and low-income housing, Divisadero Street...functioned primarily as a multicultural thoroughfare from Market Street to the Marina, rather than a destination in itself
Now, all of that has changed. A $3.4 million revitalization project has reshaped the face of the neighborhood. In 2011, the bustling boulevard is now home to swank restaurants and hip bars that are at the forefront of the city's nightlife.
"The chief concern in 2004 was public safety—in particular, violent crime. Now it's hipsters complaining about the over-abundance of strollers," said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who has made the neighborhood's redevelopment a priority since the moment he joined the Board of Supervisors in 2004. "That's a welcome problem."
Even so, the neighborhood still retains some of its gritty edge. In a recent report prepared by the Lower Divisadero Corridor Revitalization Project, one area resident noted, "it's like Sesame Street with occasional semi-automatic gun battles."
This isn't to say everyone is happy with the street's new look. In giving Divsadero a facelift, the city has widened the central median, leaving less room for cars, bicycles and street parking to share the increasingly narrow thoroughfare.
Check out the slideshow below of area hotspots that have turned the Divisadero Corridor into the "Comeback Neighborhood of the Year":
How many restaurants can say they have an entire neighborhood named after them? Not many, because the Cow Hollow Empanada And Used Polo Shirt Emporium is something I just made up. Founded in 2006, NoPa's (a nod to being "North of the Panhandle") name has expended to reference much of the area surrounding area, leading many to levy charges of the California-style restaurant being over-hyped. Don't believe the haters; one taste of NoPa's maybe-best-in-the-city burger is more than enough to consider broadening the definition of what constitutes NoPa as far north as the Golden Gate Bridge. Flickr photo by SanFranAnnie
What's not to love about parklets? The conversion of one or more parking spaces into a small, outdoor, public park complete with greenery and seating comes with wonderfully satisfying feeling of making the poor sucker endlessly circling the block in a Honda Civic regret having a car city just a little bit harder. The parklet on Divisadero between Hayes and Grove is one of the first, and nicest, in all of San Francisco.
There are a lot of ways to start a riot in Oakland but one of the easiest is to go up to any die-hard Oaklandite (make sure they're wearing an "I Hella Heart Oakland Shirt") and proclaim, "Little Star is better than Zachary's." What follows won't be pretty. The secret to the cult-like following of San Francisco's premier outpost in the trans-bay pizza wars is its buttery, delicious crust and always-fresh toppings. Flickr photo by SanFranAnnie
Located just off the famous "Wiggle" bike route, Mojo Bicycle Cafe combines two of San Francisco's favorite pastimes in a single location--it's a coffee shop in front and a bike shop in back. If you ever had the urge to see what would happen if you lubed your chain with macchiato, this is the place to make that stupid, stupid idea a reality. Flickr photo by Mat Honan
Even the trendiest of 'hoods needs a dive bar and The Page is Divisadero Corridor's official low-key watering hole. Dotted with PBR swilling neighbors on weeknights and packed PBR swilling hipsters on weekends, The Page in an inviting place where anyone in the city can plop down on a bar-stool and wet their whistle. Flickr photo by Roshan Vyas.
The Madrone Art Bar can sometimes seem too hip for its own good. At one point, the space above the bar was filled with a crucified Mickey Mouse doll spray-painted gold and a rife adorned with Burberry. But don't let the bar's knowing trendiness get to you. Down a couple drinks and, before you know it, its well after midnight and you're having the time of your life, shaking your booty at one of the bar's monthly Prince vs. Michael Jackson club nights. Flickr photo by holisticmonkey.