Warning: this entry is negative. If you like San Francisco and feel offended by my categorisation of your city, wait until tomorrow's post, where I'll go over the positives.
Update: I couldn't figure out any positive things to say about San Francisco; sorry. Maybe eventually.
San Francisco's a really interesting city—it doesn't seem to change. The same things that were haunting it eleven years ago don't seem to have left—if anything, they seem to have gotten worse. The homeless problem is still insane, despite San Francisco being the secondmost dense city in the United States (it's nonsensical, really)—Alcatraz is just as depressingly present as it was when it was active; it's almost hard to think when you can see it from where you're standing.
None of the buildings are quite as tall as you'd expect for a city of its size—it's a lot closer to the Chicago of the late 1800s than to New York. Undeniably ugly, too, when compared to other cities—you'd be hard-pressed to find a corner that wasn't ad-filled. The atmosphere is almost oppressive in that way; regardless of what you do, you can't escape capitalism in San Francisco.
It's not all bad, of course, as I'm planning on expanding on in my post tomorrow. I'm not going to sing its praises—there really are too many posts doing that already, have been for decades now, and I'll be joining in on that later on.
It's really disappointing—people sell a very convincing tale of San Francisco being some quasi-utopia for resourceful nerds, but all it feels like is one huge, looming suburb with a half-dozen skyscrapers thrown in. It's too aggressively dull to be paradise. I have to wonder if there's something I'm not seeing—some pocket of hackers hiding out, writing revolutionary software in secret, some off-the-beaten-path startup scene that doesn't feel whitewashed and one percented, something outside of the corporate billboard and hiring funnel. If there's any of those, it's certainly well-hidden.
Of course, the rest of the Valley is different, as I'm fairly frequently told, but from what I can tell is drastically worse—it stops being a suburb-in-spirit and starts being...literally just suburb on top of suburb after you take out San Francisco. I can't understand why I know so many people who love this area. It's depressing to me. I could never live here.
I'd like to make perfectly clear that I don't hate San Francisco—really, I think it's fine, and some of its quirkier phenomena has been incredibly charming to me. But wow, it could use a facelift (and maybe open-heart surgery). This city is toxic, and I think I'll welcome Chicago like an old friend once it's time to leave. For now, though, I'll bask in the positives.
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