Herbert Asbury

The Barbary Coast

 1933

There were not nearly enough dwellings in San Francisco during the gold rush to shelter even a small proportion of the newcomers, most of whom consequently were housed in leaky canvas tents or in hastily constructed board shanties with muslin or linen partitions. Many of the lodging houses, and some of the more pretentious hotels as well, consisted simply of one or more large rooms with bunks fastened to the walls and rows of uncomfortable cots on the floor. To sleep in a bunk or a cot cost as high as fifteen dollars a night, although none had either springs or mattresses. Very few private rooms were available, and the cheapest rented for from two hundred to three hundred dollars a month, payable in advance. The best brought from five hundred to a thousand dollars for a similar period. Enterprising landlords also rented sleeping space on tables, benches, and other articles of furniture at from two to ten dollars for eight hours. One man is said to have realized fifty dollars a night from the rental of half a dozen rickety old rocking chairs. Another placed wide redwood planks on sawhorses and sold the right to sleep on them for three dollars, the occupant to furnish his own bedding. In all of these flimsy places roamed millions of flies, lice, and other noxious bugs and insects, besides the huge gray rats, which almost immediately began to infest the waterfront and the muddy streets. Many of these repulsive rodents attained such size and ferocity that they were more than a match for a terrier, and they often attacked sleeping men, biting large chunks from ears, noses, and cheeks. In several houses, signs were displayed warning the guests to cover their heads. Even this didn’t help much, however, for the thrifty landlord usually removed the covers from a man’s body as soon as he was asleep and gave them to a latecomer.

Greg Gopman

A post on Facebook

 2013

Just got back to SF. I’ve traveled around the world and I gotta say there is nothing more grotesque than walking down Market Street in San Francisco. Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy homeless drug dealers, dropouts, and trash I have no clue. Each time I pass it my love affair with SF dies a little.

The difference is in other cosmopolitan cities, the lower part of society keep to themselves. They sell small trinkets, beg coyly, stay quiet, and generally stay out of your way. They realize it’s a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests. And that’s okay. 

In downtown SF the degenerates gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, get rowdy. They act like they own the center of the city. Like it’s their place of leisure. In actuality it’s the business district for one of the wealthiest cities in the USA. It’s a disgrace. I don’t even feel safe walking down the sidewalk without planning out my walking path. 

You can preach compassion, equality, and be the biggest lover in the world, but there is an area of town for degenerates and an area of town for the working class. There is nothing positive gained from having them so close to us. It’s a burden and a liability having them so close to us. Believe me, if they added the smallest iota of value I’d consider thinking different, but the crazy toothless lady who kicks everyone that gets too close to her cardboard box hasn’t made anyone’s life better in a while.

Related Reads