The Dogpatch neighborhood in San Francisco is in transition. For a century it was home to blue-collar citizens, many working in the close-by shipyards. Now it’s on the edge of becoming trendy; hipsters are moving in.
We think of gentrification as a once-in-decline neighborhood coming back to life. First arrive the artists seeking lower rents, followed by various craftspeople. Of course, hip people want to be where the artists are. Then come the trendy bars and restaurants, presenting a downscale appearance but with upscale menus. That in turn attracts the trendy and the affluent. Rents start climbing. Well, you know the story.
San Francisco is mostly beyond gentrification. A studio apartment in San Francisco can cost $3,500 per month, gentrified or not.
The Dogpatch neighborhood in San Francisco is south of AT&T Park, home of the Giants. Opened in 2000 as PacBell Park, and later SBC Park, this was the first privately financed major-league ballpark since Dodger Stadium in 1962. The neighborhood around the park has since trended upscale. Currently in the works is the development by the Giants of 28 acres just south of the ballpark comprising retail, a park, the new home of Anchor Brewing Co. and 1,500 apartments, a third of which will be rented at below-market rates. Dogpatch sits below this development.
The area came to be known as “Dogpatch” in the years before World War II. There is no documentation for the name, although Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner” comic strip, set in a rural backwater named “Dogpatch,” was becoming popular at the time.
Dogpatch became settled after the California Gold Rush brought rapid growth to San Francisco. Heavy industry – shipyards, factories, warehouses – developed in the neighborhood. Housing for the working people grew up as well. The geography of its location left the neighborhood relatively unscathed by the 1906 earthquake. As a result, it has some of the city’s oldest homes.
WWII brought even more activity in the iron and steel mills, dry docks and shipyards. After the war, the neighborhood began its decline into a gritty, sometimes dangerous area. In the 1960s, construction of the I-280 freeway on the community’s eastern edge displaced many residents and further isolated the district.
Now, Dogpatch is on the mend, attracting shoppers and tourists. Warehouses have been converted to condominiums and live/work lofts. The district’s main thoroughfare, Third Street, now has light rail – MUNI – connecting it to downtown. Many of the artisans and light manufacturers populating the area, take advantage of the traffic on Third Street, and have opened retail operations as well. You can buy a hand-made case for your iPad or a seven-dollar chocolate bar.
It’s a good place to spend a San Francisco day, away from the touristy places, mingling with the locals. Plenty of shopping and good eating and drinking. Go now; the ambiance is changing fast.