No place in San Francisco more embodies the city’s rapidly changing cultural/economic divide more than the Mission and no street more than Valencia and no block more than the 700 block of Valencia. It was already becoming more upscale when I moved here in the mid-1990s but still more bohemian. While Mission Street still holds onto the shreds of its working class history with check cashing places and dollar stores, little of Valencia Street’s former working class and leftist history remains.
I have long heard about the 1934 San Francisco general strike, but thought it was more confined to Rincon Hill, Market Street and the shipyards. So I was surprised to discover the above shot of “communists” being ousted from the Mission Workers Neighborhood House at 741 Valencia.
Today it is home of Tacolicious.
A few doors down the street at 777 Valencia is a more substantial landmark, what I knew for years as New College which was in operation from 1971 to 2008. Above it is shown in 1964 when it was a funeral home.
I expect to see it as the green and pink building above as it appear throughout the first 16 or so years I lived her, faculty including people such as Robert Duncan and where I attended many lectures and presentations by environmentalists and progressives.
And its sister campus was across the street at 766 Valencia.Today it is a mini-mall. I couldn’t’ find any vintage pictures of it.
Right next door was Luchetti Deli,at 780 Valencia, seen here in 1956.
It took me a while to recognize its current incarnation above, but then I recognized the columns on the facade that are among the few details that remain.
Further down the block is this view looking south from just north of the intersection of 20th and Valencia taken in 1927.
And as it appears today.
With Genentech, Google and others running commuter buses in the neighborhood that have garnered national attention over the battles of gentrification, it has become a symbol of a rapidly changing city that seems to be wiping away its history at an increasingly faster pace.
While I used to spend a good deal of time in this part of the Mission, I find it feels increasingly less welcoming as it becomes safer, cleaner, whiter, more expensive, and less interesting.