It's been at least three years of a steady stream of national headlines about San Francisco being in a state of chaos, or a state of general misery, and being a wildly expensive and filthy city that people can't wait to escape from. But suddenly, some editors on high have decided San Francisco is OK again, and still very pretty, and maybe it has something to do with the Presidio Tunnel Tops opening? Is the pendulum finally swinging back to where people are jealous of San Franciscans again?
Time Magazine recently saw fit to include San Francisco in its "World's Greatest Places" list — something that seems almost unthinkable a year or two ago.
"San Francisco’s incredible scenery, cultural institutions, and diverse culinary offerings are all making major strides this year," the magazine writes. "Overnight visitors have a wide selection of new hotels to choose from" too, they say — pointing to the new 1 Hotel on the Embarcadero and the still-not-actually-open LINE SF.
And, yes, as opposed to last summer, most of the city's noteworthy restaurants are back up and rolling at full capacity, so there's that too.
Smithsonian Magazine has a glowing piece about the Presidio Tunnel Tops this week too, listing it among other "infrastructure reuse projects that have completely reshaped North American cities in recent years."
The New York Times turned to local writer Lauren Sloss for a piece headlined "San Francisco Shines With New Museums, Restaurants and Parks" this week, which also calls out the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Tunnel Tops, but goes a bit deeper noting things like Francisco Park in Russian Hill, the opening of Shuggie's Trash Pie & Natural Wine and other hot natural wine spots like Bar Part Time, as well as the awesome outdoor spaces now available at Nopa and Casements.
I guess a few new parks, restaurants, and a new museum are enough to wipe away the hangover of Trump and Fox News trash-talking us for four years, and two years of a pandemic that brought a hundred headlines about the "mass exodus" of SF residents. Was it all Chesa Boudin's fault?!
Remember when the New York Times' own SF bureau chief lamented about his fatigue at covering wildfires for three of his first four years on the job? And that was in August 2020! There is and was much more to come.
And remember, long before the pandemic began, in May 2019, when the New Yorker published a piece by a writer living here who talked about how everyone she knew was "down on San Francisco these days" and couldn't "envision a future here."
Even just a few short weeks ago, former SF resident Nellie Bowles filed her contribution to the genre of think-pieces known as "why I had to leave San Francisco and why it really sucks there now." Calling her hometown a "failed city," Bowles' piece was pegged to the recall of Chesa Boudin and repeated a bunch of oft-repeated falsehoods — including the idea that SF is a special magnet for the homeless because our services for the homeless are so generous.
As Sloss intones, despite all the negative press, "San Francisco is still San Francisco. The fog still rolls in from the Pacific to blanket the city’s jumbled hills, the sunset still flames crimson behind the Golden Gate Bridge and the smell of salt and eucalyptus still hits the moment you step outside of San Francisco International Airport."
And hey everybody out there having a gross heatwave right now! We're sitting pretty over here with our new parks and stuff and 65-degree afternoons.
But, if you listen to this guy, the place is still going to hell, and the streets are nothing but "fentanyl addicts jerking off in the streets and just throwing feces," so, believe who you will.
Photo via SF Dept. of Public Health/Twitter