OK, this is awesome. We clicked on the New York Times yesterday and front and center on the front page was this story about how some people are trying to turn The Tenderloin into a tourist attraction, complete with plaques on buildings to create "visual interest." You see, Sixth Street is what Times Square used to be twenty years ago minus the porn palaces, and apparently this is worth drawing crowds who'd like a taste of our honest-to-goodness GRIT! It's real, people, and it's unique in our ever more sanitized America. To wit:

Wedged between tourist-friendly Union Square and its liberal-friendly City Hall, the Tenderloin is one of the mostly densely populated areas west of the Mississippi, officials say, with some 30,000 people in 60 square blocks, almost all of which have at least one residential hotel. The district’s drug trade is so widespread, and so wide open, that the police recently asked for special powers to disperse crowds on certain streets. Deranged residents are a constant presence, and after dark the neighborhood can seem downright sinister, with drunken people collapsed on streets and others furtively smoking pipes in doorways.

All of which, Tenderloin fans contend, is as much a part of San Francisco as flashier, decidedly less seedy attractions like Chinatown or Coit Tower.