I remember that
the houses were beautiful; the Victorian houses with all the gingerbread
still attached to the buildings, and they were nicely painted. You
could walk just about anywhere in the community and feel very safe.
I remember at Christmas time how wonderful it was with the decorations
across Fillmore Street. There were also wonderful smells. In particular,
I remember a coffee roastery and dry goods store right on the corner
of Geary and Fillmore. I also remember the great Chicago Barber
Shop. It was an absolute deco wonder. It's a shame that these things
were taken apart and taken away.
Blight in the Fillmore
did not feel blighted to me as a child. The only way that you can
get to the issue of blight is to determine that the people who were
living there, largely African American, had low incomes. And then
you have to read into the idea that these absolutely beautiful Victorian
buildings were also blighted because they were populated by black
people. That's the only way that I think you can get to this argument.
It's amazing to me when you look back at the amount of housing that
On the Physical Changes in the Fillmore
You saw wrecking
companies come in and just wholesale destroy blocks upon blocks
upon blocks with tractors, bulldozers, cranes, wrecking balls. We
also saw this incredible line that goes all the way up along the
Geary Corridor. It's like a Mason-Dixon Line. The Geary Corridor
is a huge dividing line that separated the black community from
what was north, and from Pacific Heights. The central freeway system
in San Francisco came right through areas of low income, so economics
and race had a strong bearing on how the surface transportation
system in the city would work. These are the sorts of changes that
Redevelopment allowed to happen.